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Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Valentine’

We officially have our new manager, and this shouldn’t be a surprise either.  It’s John Farrell! Honestly, it was supposed to be John Farrell all along, but last year he had two years left on his contract and the Jays instituted that rule that their employees couldn’t make lateral moves to other clubs.  Now, he already managed the Jays for two years and had one year left on his contract so we’ll have to compensate the Jays; look for Mike Aviles and Adam Lind to be included in the deal.  There isn’t much to say by way of introduction because we already know him.  Over the last two years, Toronto’s record has been 154-170.  Obviously that’s not great.  But if the whole Bobby Valentine fiasco taught us something, it’s the value of the intangible factors that come into play when one is managing.  Farrell has been with us through plenty of good, bad, and ugly, and if we can’t have Terry Francona, then Farrell is probably the next-best thing.  Obviously he has a ridiculous amount of work to do, but I believe that he can take the first step down the long road of recovery that’s facing us right now.  It won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick either.  It’s not going to happen overnight.  But it’ll be that much better with the right man on board.  Welcome back!

Unfortunately, Dave Magadan was lured away by the Rangers; he’s now their hitting coach.

Speaking of the Yankees, the Tigers swept them right out of October.  That was pretty sweet.  It still hurts that we weren’t the ones doing the sweeping, but at least somebody did it.

In other news, the Pats experienced another nailbiter loss, this one to the Seahawks, 24-23.

AP Photo

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Not much has happened since our slog of a season ended, but what did happen should be surprising to anybody.

Our first order of business was dismissing Bobby Valentine, which we did last Thursday.  This is something that was entirely predictable, appropriate, and correct.  We all know that he shouldn’t even have been hired in the first place.  It was awful.  He just wasn’t a good fit for our clubhouse, and the whole situation with him at the helm was completely dysfunctional.  There’s no need to go into specifics, but suffice it to say that there is a certain degree of professionalism that I think players and fans alike expect from a manager and that Bobby Valentine’s conception of that degree differed from ours.  Anyway, look for John Farrell and Tim Bogar to be on the brass’s radar.  Other possibilities include Torey Lovullo, former Pawtucket manager and current Jays first base coach; Joe McEwing, Other Sox bench coach; Tim Wallach, Dodgers third base coach; Brad Ausmus; and last but not least, our very own Jason Varitek.  Onward and forward!

Our blockbuster deal with the Dodgers is finally done.  For Nick Punto, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez, we took on Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands in addition to previously acquired James Loney, Ivan De Jesus, and Allen Webster.

Pedroia was nominated for the Hank Aaron Award.

In other news, the Pats beat the Broncos, 31-21, last week.

Boston Globe Staff/Aram Boghosian

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Honestly, it doesn’t get much more infuriating than that.  I’m just going to jump right in because it’s really tough to deal with it all.

Cook pitched decently.  He only lasted five innings, and he gave up three runs on seven hits while walking none and striking out two.  He went one-two-three in the first and second, and gave up a double in the third.  He gave up a solo shot to lead off the fourth followed by a single and then a two-run home run.  Following  two quick outs, he gave up a single, and then a fielding error put another runner on, but the inning ended there.  He allowed a single in the fifth and a double to lead off the sixth, at which point he was replaced by Hill, who was replaced by Aceves after three batters.

Meanwhile, we reduced our deficit from three runs to two; in the bottom of the fourth, Pedroia doubled with one out and scored on a single by Loney.

Aceves came out for the seventh and gave up a single followed by a two-run home run of his own, which made the score 5-1.  Two outs later, he gave up a double and was replaced by Carpenter, who ended the inning.  In the bottom of the seventh, we made another dent in the score.  Ross began the inning by striking out, but then Salty and Nava hit back-to-back doubles.  The Yanks sent out their third pitcher of the inning, and then Salty scored on a groundout by Gomez and Nava scored on a double by Aviles.  5-3.

Carpenter handled the eighth without incident baseball-wise but with incident drama-wise; when Bobby V. came out to the mound and Aceves saw Carpenter coming in, he walked to the other side of the mound to avoid Bobby V. when he left the field.  In terms of the bottom of the inning, we failed to score.  But it was not without further drama.

Ross ended the inning on a called strike; the at-bat featured seven pitches, all but one of them sliders, and the count had been full.  Ross and everyone else who had a pair of decently functioning eyes could see that that last supposed strike was actually a ball because it was low, and he let home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez know it immediately. So Marquez rejected him; it was only the second rejection in Ross’s career.  Several minutes later, Bobby V., who had separated Ross and Marquez, went back out there to have a talk with him that obviously got heated pretty quickly and was ejected for the sixth time this year, which sets the record for the most single-season ejections by any manager we’ve ever had in our long, illustrious history.  And at some point even third base coach Jerry Royster was ejected for some reason, so bench coach Tim Bogar was managing and coaching third at the same time at the end of it all.  The whole situation was just absurd and could have been neatly avoided had Marquez just done his job and saw reality.

Anyway, Miller and Padilla teamed up to shut out the Yanks in the top of the ninth, and the stage was set for another possible walkoff.  Salty’s leadoff at-bat was exactly the kind of at-bat you hope for most in those situations.  The count was full and he got an eighty-three mile-per-hour slide as his sixth pitch.  He’s a big guy, and he unleashed his formidable power on it and sent it out of the park to right field for a solo shot that only he could have powered out of the park.  We were now one run away with nobody out, and between Salty having made it look so easy and our last-minute heroics of the previous night, we were daring to believe that we could potentially pull it off again.

But we didn’t.  Nava flied out, Gomez grounded out, and Aviles reached on a fielding error.  Ellsbury could have put the whole thing away right then and there.  But he grounded out instead.

So we lost, 5-4.  But no one can say we didn’t put up a fight.  Because we did, both literally and figuratively.  We manufactured our own runs and pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps in the face of a deficit and dared to call a ball, a ball.  We just kept going at it all night long, but we came up just short in the end.  It’s just so infuriating.  I mean, I have to think that we’ve lost this way to plenty of other teams this year since clearly we’re in the business of losing every way to every other team this year, but to do it against the Yankees is particularly brutal.  We were almost there; we just needed one more run to tie it, and we could take care of them in extras.  And we couldn’t get it done.  It’s the story of our 2012 baseball lives.

On a more cheerful note, we have next year’s schedule, so assuming that we’re optimistic, it’s a reminder of something to look forward to.  The season starts for us on April 1 in the Bronx; we follow Opening Day with a day off and then conclude the three-game series.  We then head off to Toronto for three games, and then we head home for our home opener against Baltimore, which is followed by another day off.  We then finish our series with Baltimore and play the Rays before spending three games in Cleveland and going back home to face the Royals, A’s, and newly-AL Astros.  Then we have a day off and we go back to Toronto and then to Arlington, our first full series of May.  The Twins and Jays comprise another homestand, followed by a day off and another road trip against the Rays, Twins, and Other Sox.  Then back home we’ve got the Tribe and the Phillies, followed by a series at Philadelphia and then the Bronx, followed by a day off.  That takes us to June, our first full series of which is at home against the Rangers and then the Angels.  Then we head off to Toronto and Baltimore before another day off and coming home to face the Rays.  Then we head off to Detriot before another day off and another homestand featuring the Rockies, the Jays, a day off, and the Padres in July.  Then it’s off to the West Coast for the Angels, Mariners, and A’s before the All-Star break.  When play resumes, we host the Yanks and Rays before a trip to Baltimore and a day off.  The west then comes to us as we host the Mariners and D-Backs at home, which brings us to August.  We then travel to Houston and Kansas City before taking a day off and traveling to Toronto.  We host the Yanks at home after that, followed by a trip to San Francisco, a day off, a trip to Los Angeles for the Blue Sox, another day off, and then a homestand featuring the Orioles, Other Sox, and Tigers, which brings us to September.  We go to the Bronx after that, take a day off, go to Tampa Bay, and return home for the Yanks, a day off, the Orioles, the Jays, and another day off.  Then we go to Colorado for two games, take a day off, and go to Baltimore for the last series of the season.  So we’ve got at least three days off every month except one: May, our most packed month, when we only have one day off.  But it’s a good schedule.  It’s interesting that Interleague is sort of spread out this year instead of being clustered in June.  It’s often a tough schedule, and we have to play some worthy opponents, but if all goes according to plan, we’ll be able to hold our own next year.

AP Photo

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We lost again.  How ’bout that? Only this time it was even more painful than usual because this time we could have won easily.  Except that, really, it can’t be more painful than usual since we’ve had plenty of losses like this one as well.  So really it’s just another in a long line of diverse and painful losses.

But seriously, this one was really bad.  Like, it was really, really bad.  We seriously were so close to winning; all we had to do was hold on.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We scored first.  Ellsbury was dropped in the lineup but produced anyway; with one out in the second, Ross walked, and then Ellsbury went deep on a changeup to right for two runs on one swing.  It was awesome.  We haven’t seen power from him in a while, so it’s good to know he’s still got it.

Meanwhile, Buchholz was on a roll.  The extent of the Jays’ threats during the first two innings was one walk in each, and then they singled in the third before finally scoring in the fourth.  Unfortunately, they erased our two-run lead in the process and established a one-run lead of their own.  After securing the inning’s first out on a three-pitch strikeout, Buchholz gave up three consecutive singles that brought in one run, a sac fly that brought in the tying run, and another single that brought in the go-ahead run.

Both teams then went down in order in the next two half-innings.  Kalish walked in the fifth, but the inning ended with a pickoff.  Buchholz took down the Jays in order in the sixth, and then Pedroia tied the game at three with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning, going deep on a slider, his second pitch of the at-bat, which sailed out toward the Monster.  So all three of our runs were scored via the long ball.

Both teams then went down in order until the top of the ninth.  Buchholz induced a groundout to start it off.  But then the badness happened.  It was the badness that would cause us to lose the ballgame.  He gave up a single, which may as well have been a double thanks to a steal.  He then gave up another single, which also resulted in a steal.  He then issued an intentional walk to load the bases.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, what happened next would have been considered a fantastic play given any other circumstances.  Buchholz gave up a sac fly, which scored a run.  Normally, you accept the fact that, with the bases loaded, you take the out even if it means you allow a run, and if you escape from that situation after having allowed only one run, you’re in great shape.  The problem is that, sometimes, you’re in a tie situation and that run is the dealbreaker that decides your fate.  So given the circumstances, during any other season, this loss would have to have been accepted as a loss that you sometimes have to expect to endure.  But this is not any other season.  This is a season during which we’re losing as much as we’d have been winning during any other season.  And so it’s worse.  Much, much worse.

Tazawa issued a walk and then ended the inning on a strikeout.  We failed to score in the bottom of the ninth, so we lost, 4-3.  The irony, of course, was that Bobby V. came out to the mound with one out in the ninth and Buchholz was convinced his night was done.  It begs the question of what would have happened had Buchholz been right.  At the time, I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that, at the time, we had no reason to believe that the ball should be taken away from him.  Hindsight, of course, is always twenty-twenty.  We just got swept.

In other news, now that the regular season is underway, let’s talk about the Patriots! In preseason, we beat the Saints but lost to the Eagles, Bucs, and Giants.  Fortunately, we started the regular season off right, beating the Titans, 34-13.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Ugh.  Another crushing loss.  You know it’s bad when you go home and can’t seem to dig yourself out of your slump and instead start a new losing streak.  As if we haven’t had the indication that it’s bad from the fact that it’s September and we’re in last place.

Dice-K did not do well.  As in, he really, really, really did not do well.  He gave up five runs on five hits while walking one and striking out two, and he only lasted one and one-third innings.

He issued his walk in the first but otherwise sailed right through it.  All five of his runs were scored in the second.  It was a complete transformation from good to bad that occurred immediately.  His first pitch of the inning was hit for a solo shot, and his third pitch of the inning was hit for a single.  Then he hit a batter and gave up a double that scored one and a single that scored two.  The next runner that would score stole second, moved to third on Lavarnway’s throwing error, and came home on a sac fly.  Dice-K then allowed another single before being replaced by Aceves.

Aceves finished the second and got through the third and fourth in solid fashion.  Miller breezed through the fifth, and Melancon breezed through the sixth and seventh.

Meanwhile, the hitters were completely quiet.  They did nothing.  And they squandered the few opportunities that they did manage to create.  We went down in order in the first and third, but Lavarnway walked in the second, Ellsbury singled and Ross got hit in the fourth, and we didn’t convert those.  We finally did manage to get on the board in the fifth.  Lavarnway walked to lead it off, Aviles singled, Lavarnway scored on a single by Podsednik, Iglesias popped out and Podsednik got doubled off at first, and then Aviles scored on a single by Ciriaco.

It turns out that those two runs would be our only ones of the game.  That was the difference between us and the Jays last night.  Their one bad inning yielded two runs; our one bad inning yielded five and we weren’t even done.

Padilla came on for the eighth and allowed three straight singles, which brought in another run.  And Bailey came on for the ninth and gave up a single, a walk, and a three-run home run.  So after all the hype that Dice-K would bring an end to our slump and after all the rain delays, which lasted a grand total of 123 minutes, the final score, therefore, was 9-2.

Be mindful of this, folks: if Bobby V. chooses to shut Dice-K down for the remainder of the season, this may very well have been the last appearance he will make for us.  He’ll be a free agent this offseason, and something tells me that the brass may decide go to in a new direction.

ESPN Boston

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Well, it’s been to the headlines and back by now, and anyone familiar with how baseball works would know that there was no chance in the world that this was going to stay quiet until the formalities were taken care of.  So let’s talk about it.

We just sent most of our core to the Dodgers, in keeping with their doubling as the Los Angeles Blue Sox.  And when I say that it was most of our core, I mean that literally.  Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto.  They all involved waivers.  All but one of those were starters for us, and Punto did see more than his fair share of playing time as a utility man off the bench.  In return, we will receive four prospects (right-hander Allen Webster, infielder Ryan De Jesus, and two more to be named), a first baseman (Jason Loney), and financial flexibility.  There is no question about the fact that this is one of the largest waiver deals ever and certainly the largest in recent baseball history.

Obviously this is a huge deal, both literally and figuratively.  Beckett has obviously struggled this year, as have Crawford and Gonzalez and Punto, although much less than Beckett.  So if Ben wanted to make some sort of wave by getting rid of somebody big, he could have just gotten rid of Beckett and have been done with it.  That would have been the obvious action, if there were one at all.  But to ship out all four of these guys, especially Gonzalez? Was that really necessary? Regardless of who these prospects might be and what this flexibility might look like, is this really the best thing for our future? Or is it a short-term quick fix to show the Nation that the brass is at least doing something and that this really was a bridge year? Furthermore, does this mean that the brass has sided with Bobby V. rather than the players regarding the issue of his managerial style, or does this have nothing to do with that at all because it’s based strictly on performance, or lack thereof? But if it does have to do with that, how certain are the brass that the solution indeed involved the players rather than the manager and coaches?

Punto finishes his lone season with us, which wasn’t even a whole season, with a batting average of .200, an on-base percentage of .301, and a slugging percentage of .272.  He has had 125 at-bats in sixty-five games; he has twenty-five hits to his credit as well as ten RBIs and fourteen runs.  He has walked nineteen times and stolen five bases.  He has played every infield position this year and has made only two errors.

Crawford departs after having played almost two season here.  Last season was better in terms of playing time, while this season was better in terms of performance.  He finishes this season with us with a batting average of .282, an on-base percentage of .306, and a slugging percentage of .479.  He has had 117 at-bats in thirty-one games; he has thirty-three hits to his credit as well as nineteen RBIs and twenty-three runs.  He has walked three times and stolen five bases.  He has made only one error in the field.

Gonzalez also departs after having played almost two seasons here, but it feels like so much more because he has so easily become a fixture on this team.  He historically has been known for his great leadership and team presence, both in the clubhouse and on the field.  He always seemed to be really enthusiastic about playing here, and he usually let his production do the talking.  And it talked a lot.  His average last year was a cool .338, and it was hard to imagine him not getting up there and whacking some ball for extra bases every time.  He certainly did struggle at the beginning of the season but has since started to bounce back quite nicely.  His average is now at .300, and he has an on-base percentage of .343 and slugging percentage of .469.  He’s had 484 at-bats in 123 games; he has 145 hits to his credit as well as eighty-six RBIs and sixty-three runs.  He has walked thirty-one times and stolen no bases, but that’s alright because his job, unlike Crawford’s, is not even partially to steal bases.  His job is to hit for extra bases, and that he can do.  He hasn’t hit any triples, but he’s hit thirty-seven doubles and fifteen home runs.  And in addition to first base he has also played right field this year because he’s a team player, and when the team needed him, he didn’t ask questions; he just slid right in there, and he did an impressive job at that.  He made four errors this year, two in right and two at first.

Beckett, of course, is the most storied of the four.  He’s certainly been here the longest, so he’s given us more memories, some good and some bad but all unique.  He came here in 2006 and had a subpar season.  In 2007 he went twenty and seven, and everyone but those in the position to award the Cy Young knew that he was the one who deserved it, regardless of the fact that he was a huge reason why we won the World Series that year.  His start in Game One was phenomenal.  It was a real gem.  He retired nine batters, including his first four, and gave up only one run.  2008 was another mediocre year, but 2009 saw him largely back to his old self, finishing the season with a record of seventeen and six.  2010 was an abysmal year, and of course last year was decent; his record was thirteen and seven, so he won almost twice as many games as he lost.  And then we have this year.  This year he’s five and eleven with a 5.23 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP.  He’s pitched 127.1 innings and given up seventy-four earned runs on 131 hits, sixteen of which were home runs; incidentally, he’s only allowed one unearned run.  He has given up thirty-eight walks as well.  So, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not like every single season he’s been here except for this one has been an unabashed success.  Far from it.  But when he’s been successful, he’s been really, really, really successful.  And of course there’s his personality.  Rumor had it that he was partly if not completely responsible for the deterioration of our clubhouse and has been widely associated with the instigation of beer-drinking and whatnot within it.  As I said at the time when all of this was news, none of us were actually there, and we can’t know what really went on.  All we know is that, despite his mile-wide competitive streak and work ethic, Beckett has not been performing well at all on the mound.

On the eve of the departures of these players, we salute their commitment to this team and the accomplishments that they achieved during their stay here.  In the spirit of the tribute, therefore, Punto, Crawford, and of course Gonzalez as well as Beckett, we’ll miss you and we salute you.  Now, as far as the implications of the deal and what it all means, there are things I said and there are things I didn’t necessarily overtly say.  But in reality I said a lot.  Ultimately, our task now is to see what we end up doing during our offseason.

We lost to the Royals in extras last night, but it really wasn’t Cook’s fault.  Cook, for his part, did an extremely admirable job, especially when you consider the fact that he made this start on three days’ rest.  He gave up three runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out none over six innings.  He gave up all three runs in the first thanks to a double that brought in two and then a single that brought in one.  He then cruised for the remainder of his outing.  Meanwhile, our hitters put us on top.  The Royals may have scored three runs, but we answered with four in the second.  Gomez hit a solo shot, the first homer of his Major League career, and then Salty and Lavarnway hit back-to-back singles to set the table for Aviles, who went yard on the first pitch he saw, sending the ball out toward the Monster.  And the third inning only served to solidify the fact that we were in control.  Pedroia doubled, Ellsbury walked, and Ross singled to load the bases; thanks to a single by Gomez as well as a Royals error, we scored another two runs plus a third thanks to a sac fly by Salty.  We just kept piling it on in the fourth; Ciriaco walked, and Ellsbury singled two outs later.  Ross and Gomez added their consecutive singles to Ellsbury’s to go back-to-back-to-back and plate two more runs.

So by the time Cook’s appearance came to an end, we were leading, 9-3.  And I have to say, I was feeling pretty comfortable with how I expected this game to turn out.  I mean, we just scored nine runs, and we did it with everything: long ball, small ball; you name it, we did it.  And we had a six-run lead to boot.  But I should have expected that no lead would possibly have been safe.

Because then the seventh inning happened, and the seventh inning was when our entire relief corps ruined it completely, imploded totally, and embodied the epitome of an epic fail.  First, it was Miller, who allowed a groundout, a single, a strikeout, two consecutive walks, and an RBI single that scored two.  Then Melancon came on and gave up an RBI double and an RBI single.  Then Breslow came on and gave up a triple that scored two and then managed to finish the inning with an intentional walk followed by a groundout.

Breslow pitched the eighth, Bailey pitched the ninth, Padilla pitched the tenth, and Tazawa pitched the eleventh and most of the twelfth.  He gave up a walk, a double, and finally the single that scored the winning run.  Mortensen replaced him after that and ended the inning.  And we threatened a bit in the eighth, when Ellsbury got himself to third with two out, and in the tenth, when Ciriaco was thrown out at home.  But we didn’t score since the fourth, so we allowed our lead to be completely squandered and lost, 10-9, even though we outhit them, 20-14.

And as an added reflection of the badness of our entire situation, Aceves reportedly slammed the door on his way into Bobby V.’s office after Friday’s game and has been suspended for three games for conduct detrimental to the team.

AP Photo

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So, how many times have we seen this? It’s a classic story.

Pitcher makes bid for no-no.  Pitcher gets halfway through game with no-no.  Opposing team takes solace in the fact that, if they can manage to scrape together just one hit, pitcher will implode completely after losing bid.  Pitcher gives up first hit.  Pitcher does indeed implode completely after losing bid.  Team on receiving end of win ends up losing.

And I know that story because that’s the exact same story I root for every time I even think we might actually be the victims of a no-no or some such outcome.  Fortunately, in that situation it comes through for us almost every time, and certainly in recent memory.  But when your pitcher is the one making the bid and then losing it and imploding, suddenly the story means something very different.  It means a regular old loss instead of a loss that at least represents the recovery of your dignity.

When Cook was in business, Cook was in business.  His bid lasted for five innings, and he actually had a perfect game going through the fourth, when he gave up his first of three walks.  He gave up his second walk an inning later.  He had the Orioles wound around his finger and did with them as he pleased.  They all stepped up, and he sent them down in every way you could possibly send a batter down.  He mowed through that lineup like it was a lawn in need of some serious grooming.  And he did it precisely and efficiently to boot.

And then came the sixth, and it was like he completely transformed right in front of our eyes.  Actually, scratch that; he did transform right in front of our eyes.  From a good pitcher to a bad pitcher.  He gave up five runs, but he’s lucky he didn’t give up much, much more.  After securing the inning’s first out, Cook gave up his third and final walk, his first hit of the night in the form of a single, and then his second in the form of an RBI single.  His next hitter ended up reaching on a force attempt; Cook made a throwing error, and that brought in another run.  Then Cook gave up a double that scored one.

And that was when he was replaced by Miller, who began his workload with a fielder’s choice out at home that also resulted in a baserunner.  That was it for Miller, and Tazawa came in and gave up a double that scored two followed by a single, which was when he was replaced by Breslow, who finished the inning and pitched the seventh as well.  Mortensen pitched the eighth.

As far as the offense is concerned, we were busy matching the Orioles pitch for pitch, which in this case means not hitting anything for the first half of the game or so.  We scored our first run in the fifth; with one out, we hit back-to-back singles and scored one run on a double by Ellsbury and the other on a sac fly by Crawford.  So at the time, we were up by two.  Then the sixth inning happened.  And then we scored our last run in the seventh, when Punto reached on a fielding error, advanced to third on a deflected hit by Ellsbury, and scored on a sac fly by Crawford.  That was all we could muster.

So the final score was 5-3.  We could really have used the galvanizing effects that a no-no always brings with it.  If you thought things weren’t bad already, they’re really starting to get bad now.  Gonzalez and Bobby V. were both ejected in the eighth because Gonzalez argued that he was quick-pitched.  And you could just tell that they and the rest of the team are tired, frustrated, and wanting so badly to just win but for some reason not being able to do it consistently.

Getty Images

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