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Departure

Let’s get the small stuff out of the way first.  We non-tendered Bailey and Kalish.  Also, congratulations to Lackey on a well-deserved Tony Conigliaro Award.  Not that that’s a small achievement, but it’s not disturbing and alarming like the big news of the week.

This week, we’ve had to deal with some significant departures.  This is going to be rough.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is our first departure.  He is now a Florida Marlin, having signed a deal for three years and twenty-one million dollars.  We acquired him as a veteran, and now he leaves as a veteran having helped us win the World Series.

Last year, Salty batted .273 with fourteen homers and sixty-five RBIs.  He posted a fielding percentage of .994 and a catcher’s ERA of 3.88.  But as with all great catchers, he contributed innumerable qualities like leadership and work ethic and skill with calling games and managing pitchers.  Needless to say, the last three years, including October, would have looked very different without him, and he will certainly be missed.  Salty, we thank you, and we salute you.

We welcome AJ Pierzynski, who has signed a one-year deal pending a physical.  Last year, he batted .272 with seventeen homers and seventy RBIs.  He posted a fielding percentage of .998 and a catcher’s ERA of 3.63.  He’s gritty, and he’ll fit in just fine.  We also welcome Edward Mujica, the righty reliever, who signed a two-year deal for $9.5 million.

Our other departure is different.  This isn’t someone we brought in who has now decided to leave for a three-year contract.  We say goodbye to someone we raised, who spent his entire career thus far with us, and who didn’t go to just any team.  Jacoby Ellsbury is now a New York Yankee.  It’s basically the same old story.  They lured him over there with the type of contract that only the New York Yankees could provide: seven years and $153 million.  So the Evil Empire offers these contracts like it’s made of money, since it basically is, and no other team can compete with that.  I mean, it’s not like we haven’t seen this before.  A star center fielder who bats leadoff and makes spectacular catches and helped us win the World Series and who is a Boston icon leaving for the dark side; where have I seen that before?

It’s just awful.  Our job is to raise players in the farm so they can stay here.  Out job is not to raise players in the farm so they can win a ring and then just leave and give their services to the highest bidder.  That was never what baseball was supposed to be about.  But that’s the reality in which we and the game find ourselves now.

It’s not our fault that we choose to be a responsible team that conducts itself in a responsible way.  A contract worth that many years and that much money does not allow for much flexibility, which is what you need if you’re going to win.  Think about our performance over the course of the past decade. Think about our performance over the course of the past year, about the acquisitions we made last offseason and where they led us in October.  We should feel good about our success and about the business model and strategies that got us there.  Hindering our flexibility by committing almost a whole decade’s worth of years and millions of dollars in three digits has not, historically, been one of those strategies.  That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with us. It means there’s something wrong with them.

Let’s take a moment to celebrate Ellsbury’s achievements in Boston.  He’s been hurt, but he has always powered through in true dirt-dog fashion, never shying away from making the tough plays no matter what mind kind of pain waited as a consequence.  In his career, he’s bagged .297 with sixty-five homers and 314 RBIs.  He has led the American League three times in steals.  And he made only three errors last year.  He helped us win not one but two World Series championships, making his presence  seen and felt in both.  I don’t think we’ll ever forget the way he patrolled Fenway’s center field with ease and made it look as easy as it really was for him to make catches that didn’t even seem to be humanly possible.

His seven years are up, and now he’s joined the darkness. Ellsbury, we thank you, and we salute you.  But we feel disappointed, insulted, and betrayed.

Fortunately, Napoli is coming back.  So there’s that sign of hope and optimism.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Habs, 2-1, but beat the Penguins, 3-2, and the Leafs, 5-2.  The Pats just barely, and I mean that in every sense of the phrase, eked out a win against the Browns, 27-26.  It really went down to the wire.  Seriously.

Pro Sports Extra

Still Waiting

There haven’t really been any developments.  Showing interest and finalizing deals are two very different things, and we probably have a long way to go before things start heating up.

In other news, the Bruins bested the Penguins, 4-3, as well as the Rangers, 3-2, and Blue Jackets, 3-1, but lost to the Red Wings, 6-1.  And the Pats edged the Broncos, 34-31, in a real mess that eventually turned into a real awesome victory.  The first half of that game was an epic disaster.  I didn’t even know what team I was watching.  And as a result, I didn’t even know what team I was watching in the second half, either.  It was a situation of polar opposites, and the win was just unbelievable.

AP Photo

Business As Usual

That’s the funny thing about the World Series.  We spend the entirety of a long season trying to win it, and then we do win it, and then it’s over.  And then it’s suddenly back to business as usual, trying to do the things that will make it possible for us to win it again.

We acquired righty Burke Badenhop from the Brewers.  Basically, he’s a workhorse in the bullpen, so he’ll add some nice depth and dependability, especially down the stretch.  So far, we’ve shown interest in Corey Hart and Carlos Beltran, and supposedly we’re keeping an open mind as far as alternative options behind the plate are concerned.  Pedroia won an incredibly well-deserved Heart and Hustle Award.

In other news, the B’s beat the Canes, 4-1, and Rangers, 2-1.  We also lost to the Blues, 3-2, in a shootout but beat the Canes again yesterday, 3-2.  The Pats dropped a nailbiter to the Panthers, 24-20.

Gammons Daily

The Waiting Game

Pedroia’s thumb surgery is now done, but it looks like he may have to miss part of Spring Training to recover.  And that’s pretty much it.  No big news on other fronts, so the waiting game continues.

In other news, the Bruins bested the Bolts, three-zip, as well as the Blue Jackets, 3-2.  But we lost to the Sens, 4-2.  The Pats had a bye last week.

Boston Herald Staff

First Honors

Congratulations to Papi for reeling in his sixth Silver Slugger, a very well-deserved award indeed! Pedroia has been named the AL Defensive Player of the Year, and John is up for AL Manager of the Year.

Other than that, it’s still really early in the offseason, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens as things start heating up.

In other news, the Pats walked all over the Steelers, 55-31.  The Bruins lost to the Stars, 3-2 in a shootout but went on to beat the Panthers, 4-1, and the Leafs, 3-1.

Getty Images

The traditional Rolling Rally victory parade took place yesterday, and what a victory parade it was.  Almost one million people turned up in person to watch the team roll through by land as well as by sea.

But this year’s parade was really special.  The team made a special stop at the finish line of the Boston Marathon to commemorate the tragic events that took place on that occasion.  They placed the World Series trophy on the finish line along with a jersey numbered 617 that said “Boston Strong.” Boston Strong indeed.  This year’s victory was exactly what the city of Boston needed, and to see the players communing with the city in remembering the Marathon tragedy was just a really beautiful thing.

The celebration itself was epic, and it was just awesome.  The glory indeed that has returned to Boston this year.  The glory, glory, glory that is ours after we won the 2013 World Series.  Oh, the glory.  What can I say? It was a victory parade.  We had a victory parade for a reason.  And to see thousands and thousands and thousands of people celebrate that victory really shows what the Red Sox mean to Red Sox Nation.

Technically, the offseason officially began as soon as the World Series ended.  Now that the Rolling Rally has taken place, attention will turn to things like who will come back next year, who’s talking to who, and who will strike what deal when and for how long and how much.  But no matter how much business must be talked this offseason, the epic and awesome and ultimate glory is ours.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Penguins but beat the Ducks and Islanders.

AP Photo

Oh, the glory.  Oh, the epic glory and elation.  Oh, the epic glory and elation and wonder and virtue and justice that has been delivered again to Boston this year.  I don’t even know.  I can’t even adequately verbalize the truly awesome epicness of this entire situation.  Oh, the glory.

I just have to say this.  Ladies and gentlemen, we, Red Sox Nation, are the official diehard supporters of the Boston Red Sox, the official World Series champions.

Actually, I have to say this multiple times.  THE BOSTON RED SOX JUST WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!! THE CROWN HAS RETURNED TO ITS RIGHTFUL PLACE!!!! THE UNIVERSE HAS NOW AGAIN BEEN MADE RIGHT!!!!

And again.  WE ARE WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS!!!!

Think about where we were this time last year.  We were not busy winning the World Series.  We were busy trying to deal with the pain of watching some other team win the World Series, let alone play in the World Series, let alone make it to the playoffs.  The circumstances surrounding the team were so disappointing and disillusioning so often, and we were just hoping that we could turn it around in the offseason.

After that offseason, since day one of this season, the pieces have fallen into place.  This year’s team is brand new in so many innumerable and yet vitally important ways.  And it was really a team, from the first game of Spring Training to the last game of the World Series; even through everyone said we wouldn’t amount to anything this year, a different guy was getting it done every night, and everyone was relying on everyone else to deliver their own core strengths.  The clubhouse dynamic has been healthy, and that really translated well onto the field.  So in terms of big-picture team qualities, I think this year’s team just had so much in common with past teams that have won the World Series.  And I don’t think that that’s a coincidence.

To go from worst to first, it takes a team.  A whole team.  It definitely takes a team.

This posteason hasn’t been easy.  We had our work cut out for us the whole way through.  And this is the first of our last three championships that we hadn’t been able to sweep.  It was nerve-wracking and nail-biting.  It was like that all the way down to the wire.  Of course, in the end, part of that had to do with the fact that, even though I was seeing it with my own eyes, I couldn’t quite believe it until the field was mobbed and the goggles were donned and the champagne was sprayed and the trophy was hoisted and and we won it all.  That last out was just so brutal; the seconds lasted forever, and then it was over so fast.

And we won the World Series.  This whole organization turned itself around, and we became champions of the world.  I am so proud of this organization and this city, and I am so proud to be a member of Red Sox Nation.

Alright.  Down to the monumental contest itself.  Obviously, we came home needing to win only one more game to cap the year with the greatest accolade that the Major Leagues has to offer.  Lackey got the call, and he most definitely did not disappoint.  He delivered one of the best starts this month, giving up only one run on nine hits over the course of six and two-thirds innings while walking one and striking out five.  He threw 105 pitches, two of which were wild and seventy-six of which were strikes.

But that doesn’t even tell the whole story.  He went one-two-three in the first.  He gave up two singles in the second and ended the inning with three straight outs.  He went one-two-three in the third despite giving up a single thanks to a double play.  He gave up a single and contended with a second baserunner in the fourth thanks to a fielding error by Pedroia but escaped unscathed.  He pitched around another two singles in the fifth and went one-two-three in the sixth.

His problem was the seventh.  Lackey is an incredibly fierce competitor, which is something you really, really want in a starting pitcher.  Unless they aren’t very good at letting go.  Two outs into the inning, he gave up a single, a double, and an RBI single.  That run was the Cards’ first of the night, which broke up a potential shutout.  I’ll be honest with you.  A win is a win no matter how many runs the opposition scores as long as you score more, but after having played close games against this team, I just really, really wanted the shutout.  Whatever.  We won the World Series, so in the end it doesn’t matter.

Anyway, then Lackey convinced John to leave him in but proceeded to issue a walk.  And that was it for Lackey.  But not before he received an incredibly well-deserved standing ovation.  The organization turned around, and so did he.  And earned the start last night, and he earned that standing ovation.

Then Tazawa ended the inning.  Workman came out for the eighth and mowed right through, going one-two-three in the inning.  And then I could taste it.  I could just feel that glory about to wash over this great city.  A city that’s been through a lot this year, and a team that’s helped everyone get through it.

The epic awesomeness was supplemented by offense.  Obviously.  Because without hitting and scoring, you can’t even win a single game, let along a World Series.  Whoever hunkered down for a long night after two scoreless innings looked really, really incorrect really fast.

We scored three runs in the third and another three in the fourth.

Ellsbury singled to lead off the third and moved to second on a groundout by Pedroia.  Papi walked intentionally, Napoli struck out, and Gomes got hit to load the bases.  Victorino yet again came up with the big hit, clearing the bases with one swing.

Then Drew homered on the first pitch of the fourth.  It was a fastball clocked at ninety-one miles per hour, and he powered that ball out of the park in right center.  It was epic.  It was also the lone power display of the night.  So in this game we had some of everything: small ball, long ball, and most importantly, everything else.

Ross struck out, Ellsbury doubled and moved to third on a flyout by Pedroia, and Papi walked intentionally again.  Then Napoli singled in Ellsbury, Gomes walked to load the bases, and Victorino singled in Papi.

And that was it.  Six runs in two innings.  We couldn’t have known this at the time, but the game was won after we scored our second run in the third.

And then Uehara came on for the ninth.  And he recorded the first out.  And the second out.  And the third out.  It was happening right in front of me and it was something so beautiful and incredible to see, and I couldn’t believe it.  And yet simultaneously I could, because I knew that this is where we were, in Boston, at the end of October.  Right here.  Right now.

And then it was over.  And the field was full.  And we won.  We won it all.  And The Standells played, because now Boston is everyone’s home.

The final score was 6-1.

It was the first time we won the World Series at home in ninety-five years.  The last time? 1918.  Against the Cubs.  The first time we won the World Series since? 2004.  The team we played? The St. Louis Cardinals.  Coincidence? I think not.

Again, I point out the glory.  The sheer beauty of the thing and the glory, glory, glory that is Boston’s this year.  The glory that belongs to every single player, and coach, and manager of course, and staff member, and brass of this illustrious organization.  The glory that belongs to Big Papi, the official World Series MVP, and to everyone who was a part of this win.  The glory that belongs to each and every beard, real or fake, that’s been feared.  The glory that belongs to each and every rally cap that’s been turned upside-down.  The glory that belongs to the people of Boston after having endured such tragedy this year.  The glory that belongs to Red Sox Nation the world over, because the World Series is ours.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I congratulate ourselves on a truly incredible journey that has brought us to the end of a truly incredible year.

WE DID IT!!!!

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin
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