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.

I Believe

364 days ago I wrote a post called “Keeping the Faith, Part 2.” At that time Boston was in a 3-1 hole to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series, and they were getting ready to face CC Sabathia in game 5. One year later, I find myself in a similar position, full of hope and optimism and sitting in front of my laptop. Can Boston make another comeback and crush the hopes and dreams of Rays fans everywhere? I not only hope so, but I’m going to give the reasons why.

  1. Scott Kazmir is pitching tonight. Why would Joe Maddon do this? He is either hoping that Kazmir rebounds from his last several poor performances and pulls out a win, or he’s that confident that “Big Game” James Shields will be money in game 6 at Tropicana Field to win it in front of the home crowd. Whatever the reason, I giggled a little when I saw Kazmir as tonight’s starting pitcher. This series is at least going back to St. Pete.
  2. The Red Sox have played horrible baseball. This the all-or-nothing, backs-to-the-wall scenario that shows a team’s character. Like Gene Hackman said in The Replacements, “winners want the ball.”  The Red Sox are the defending World Series Champions. Let’s start acting like it.
  3. 1986, down 3-1 to the California Angels in the ALCS. 2004, down 3-0 to the NY Yankees in the ALCS. 2007, down 3-1 to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. They’ve been here before and have won. They will do it again.
  4. Jon Lester and Josh Beckett. There is no way in hell that these guys throw another crappy game like their last time out.
  5. Big Papi actually got an extra-base hit last game. The offensive flood gates are officially open.
  6. There is no way that the Rays can keep up with their 8 home runs a game pace. MLB is going to start charging them for lost baseballs.
  7. Dice K is a ninja. The Rays won’t know what hit them.
  8. Jason Varitek got the hole in his glove stitched up, so no more inning-extending passed balls.
  9. The Sox only have to win three measly games. A three game winning streak is nothing. They’ve done it 16 times this season.

So now you can see how obvious it is that Boston will rally back and win this series. I almost feel bad for the Rays…

Go Sox!

Games People Play

This fantasy baseball league is sucking the life out of me. I can’t focus at work. I’m ignoring my kids. I spend too much time making blockbuster trades in my mind. All with the hopes of winning the prestigious title of “Best GM on thefoulline.com.”

I’ve been scouring other teams’ lineups trying to figure out their secret formula for success. Is having seven shortstops a good thing? Can my team win without any Yankees on it? Should I have focused on pitchers? Did I over think, and put too much stock in some potential up-and-comers? Should I have just used the damned Auto Draft?

Please help me if you know the answers to any of these questions.

thefoulline.com quick hits

  • Last night Dice K lived up to his hype. Let’s hope he can do this all year.
  • Has anyone seen the greatest clutch hitter in baseball? He wears #34 and spits on his hands a lot. If found, please return him to the Red Sox ASAP.
  • Attention, Eric Gagne: I guess it wasn’t the city of Boston that caused your woes last year. It’s that you suck.
  • It took all of three games, but I am done with J.D. Drew and his candy-ass excuses for the rest of the year. The Sox should send him down to Pawtucket to “rehab” his back, and bring up someone with heart.
  • I’m not sure how to pronounce Cub’s right fielder Kosuke Fukudome’s name, but he might have the greatest name in Major League history since Rusty Kuntz.
  • Fantasy Baseball causes Attention Deficit Disorder.

And then there was one…

Am I the only one that was getting a little nervous when Colorado scored five runs in the seventh inning? Was anyone else having flashbacks of Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner and Aaron Boone? What the hell is wrong with us?

This is a different Red Sox team. This team is made up of guys that never quit. After seeing their lead cut to one run they could have panicked. Instead, they got back to basics and put four more runs on the scoreboard. I got the feeling during the eighth inning, when Boston responded to the Rockies rally with three runs, that the Colorado players were finally beginning to realize that they were over matched. This was a punch to the gut not only for the Rockie players but also for their fans.

While I am on the subject of the Rockies fans, am I the only one that was a little disappointed in their performance last night? I kept hearing all week that once the series went to Colorado it was going to be totally different ballgame. That the fans were crazy and acted like the 10th player on the field for the Rockies. Instead I saw a stadium of people sitting on their hand the whole game. They didn’t make a peep until the seventh inning when the Rockies finally scored. And when they did they responded with the lamest chant in sports history. “Rockies………………. GO!” They need to (a) change their chant, (b) change their batteries, or (c) buy a metronome. Not to mention the towel waving was pathetic. These fans really need to watch the Cleveland Indian fans from games 3 and 4 in the ALCS for a Towel Waving for Dummies demonstration. Colorado had the tamest 50,000 fans I’ve ever seen.



“Crazy” Rockies fans in action

I thought Dice K looked great last night for the first four innings. He didn’t try to get cute with his pitches and, with the exception of Todd “Chin Beaver” Helton, didn’t get into any really long battles with the Rockies players. These long at-bats have been what’s plagued Matsuzaka this year, driving up his pitch count and tiring him out. When Dice K started to wear down in the sixth inning and walked two batters, Terry Francona did the right thing and pulled him. It was a solid performance from the rookie pitcher that I am sure he will build on for future post seasons.Speaking of rookies, Jacoby “Wonderboy” Ellsbury and Dustin “The Little Engine That Could” Pedroia were awesome. Did these guys not get the memo that they are rookies? Instead of going a combined 7 for 10 with four RBIs, they were supposed to be sucking their thumbs in the corner. But these two are wired differently then most. They have ice water in their veins and play better on the bigger stage. They make something happen in every game they play in. I really look forward to watching these guys play in Red Sox uniforms for the next ten years.

Here are thefoulline.com’s quick hits for game 4:

  • How the hell did the Rockies make it to the World Series with a rotation of Francis, Jimenez, Fogg and Cook? These guys are even worse then I thought. If Aaron Cook can make it past the fifth inning tonight, I will eat my Red Sox hat.
  • What a great time for Julio Lugo to start playing his best baseball of the season. He got on base three times last night and made two great defensive plays. He reminded me of Plastic Man on the run-saving line drive he caught. It was a great play at a pivotal time in the game.
  • Please put Javier Lopez in the same hole Eric Gagne is hiding in. He sucks. Just because he has a funky delivery doesn’t mean he can pitch.
  • How about Big Papi at first base last night? He looked pretty good. Maybe it was the six run lead, but I wasn’t too nervous with him out there.
  • Jon Lester will complete the most inspirational comeback in sports this year when he wins game four for the Red Sox tonight.
  • I’m stuck on who I think is the MVP of the World Series. If Beckett pitched one more game, I think he would win it. But right now I think it’s a two-horse race between Dustin Pedroia and Jonathan Papelbon. I’m voting for Pedroia.
  • Get the champagne on ice.

Cautiously Optimistic

For the first time during these playoffs I am not 100% confident that the Red Sox are going to win a game. Now before people start calling me a fair-weathered fan, give me a chance to explain.

Being up 2-0 in the series, I feel that the pressure is now on Boston. The Rockies are in a big hole to a more experienced team. But unlike most teams in baseball, the Rockies seem to play better when their backs are against the wall. The Rockies can go out and just let it rip. They can be aggressive at the plate and take chances on the basepaths. People are already writing them off, so what do they have to lose?

Colorado has scored two runs in the series. Nobody can really believe that this is the best the Rockies have to offer. This is a team loaded with guys that can play and that are eager to show some offense. And tonight they’re playing at Coors Field in front of 50,000 fans. If this doesn’t give the Rockies the boost they need, nothing will.

Which brings me to Boston. I have been going back and forth since game two on who I think should start at first base for the Red Sox. This was like if someone asked which of my kids was my favorite. Who do you pick? Big Papi or Youk. This had to be a really tough decision for Francona. My initial thoughts were to go with Youkilis. He plays great defense and has been crushing the ball. The defense is particularly important in a bigger park like Coors Field.

Big Papi, on the other hand, is arguably the greatest postseason hitter in MLB history. He may not be a Gold Glover, but he has proven to be a decent first baseman. Every time I think Papi can’t play first base well, I remember the 2004 World Series. Game three, St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Suppan rounded third base too far and was promptly picked off by Ortiz on a great throw. I understand why Francona kept Big Papi in the lineup, but I just know I am going to worry every time he has a ball thrown or hit to him. Francona has stuck by his guns all year with regards to who plays and hasn’t been wrong yet. I’m counting on him that this is the right decision.

Another reason for my concern is Dice K pitching tonight. Although he pitched pretty well in game seven against the Indians in the ALCS, I never know what to expect from him. To make matter worse, Dice K doesn’t like pitching in cold weather, and with the forecasters predicting temperatures in the 40’s for tonight’s game, this could pose a huge problem for Boston. Another point of concern is the thin Colorado air that toys with pitches. Balls don’t break like they are supposed to. Balls that are supposed to break out of the strike zone will come right down the pipe on a silver platter. With a pitcher like Dice K, who relies on off-speed pitches and breaking balls, this could be a big problem. Let’s hope the extra day he has spent in Colorado has prepared him for tonight.

Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. The Sox have a two-game lead in the World Series. They have been getting great pitching from the starters and the bullpen and getting a lot of runners on base. As an added bonus, Boston will face Josh Fogg tonight. A light-throwing pitcher that relies on nibbling around the plate, he reminds me of a really poor man’s Jamie Moyer. With a lineup like Boston’s, this has the potential to resemble batting practice.

The key for Boston tonight is not to play “safe” baseball. They need to continue to do the things that have got them to this point: patience at the plate, making pitchers work for their strikes, and capitalizing on mistakes.

If Boston can do these things and win tonight, pull out your broom. The series is over.