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Posts Tagged ‘Don Zimmer’

That was completely different from what was in my head when I pictured Lackey’s debut in a Boston uniform against the Yankees.  Completely different.  Because his debut, which was everything we expected it to be, was rewarded with a no-decision.  Not a win.  He was an Angel, and one good thing I can say about the Angels despite last October is that, historically, they’ve had New York’s number in just about every facet of the game.  And Lackey was a part of that, so between that, the first-pitch strike, the atmosphere which was perfect for someone who thrives on the pressure of competition, he had this locked.

He threw exactly one hundred pitches, which carried him through the sixth inning.  Fifty-eight of those hundred pitches were strikes, and only five were swinging strikes.  So New York had no idea what to do with him.  He threw basically the same number of four-seams as he did curveballs and cutters, and all three of them were thrown for roughly the same number of strikes, with the four-seam being a little less successful than the curve and cutter.  He allowed no runs on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts over his six innings.  All in all, I’d say had New York’s number all the way through.  Six shutout innings is no accident.  He owned New York.  His first pitch in a Boston uniform may have been a ball, but his first-pitch strike was on.  He thrived on the atmosphere.  He had it locked.  He was spectacular.  It was a sight.  And let me tell you something: if he pitches like this throughout the season, we’re set, no questions asked.

One other thing about Lackey: he works exceptionally fast.  We got through nine innings in less than three hours.  For a Sox-Yanks game, that’s warp-speed.

So where did the loss come from? What went wrong? The bullpen.  The theme of this series is officially that all of our strengths heading into the season failed.

In the bottom of the third, Pettitte gave Pedroia something in the inside of the strike zone, so naturally Pedroia sent it deep down the left field line, with his usual throwing his whole weight into the swing.  Then Papi came up to the plate, and over the course of his at-bat he gives a swing and a miss.  While all the sports writers across New England were focusing on the miss, I’d tell you to focus on the swing.  All of his power was behind that swing, and with a hitter as good as Papi has been throughout his career, if he’s still got his power, it’s only a matter of time before he starts hitting.  Sure enough, a few pitches later, he plated Pedroia.

Lackey held the score at 1-0 until he left.  Enter Schoeneweis and a tie game.  Schoeneweis leaves; enter Bard, who earns a blown save by letting the game tie (Swisher punched a changeup through the hole in right, and V-Mart couldn’t hold Drew’s throw), followed by Papelbon, who earns a loss, followed by Atchison.  The game went into the tenth.  Papelbon allowed a home run (who leaves a belt-high fastball right over the middle of the plate?) and a fielder’s choice.  Papelbon.  Brought back painful memories of October.  He’s positive about it so we know his confidence isn’t shaken, but ours is.  The one thing Red Sox Nation needed at the start of this season was a positive performance from him for a few games.  We didn’t get it, because that was the third contest of 2010, and already he has a loss to his credit.  The loss of this series is on him.  But at the same time, let’s not get carried away.  A solo home run is not two runs on three hits, for example; it indicates one mistake.  Just one.  Let’s see how he does next time.

Still, not what I envisioned to the start of his season, and not what I envisioned for Lackey’s debut.  I never thought Lackey’s efforts would be rewarded with a no-decision.  A win, sure, but not a no-decision.

So Pedroia and Cameron both doubled, and Papi batted in the only Red Sox run of the night.  As far as the defense is concerned, thankfully we didn’t commit any errors.  In the top of the third, Beltre missed a possible out; Jeter was running to first, and Beltre could only make the throw if he barehanded the ball.  Fine, I’ll grant that Jeter probably would’ve beat it out, but that’s not the point.  Beltre failed to barehand the ball, and that was my problem.  A third baseman of his caliber should make that play.  I guess that’s what the first week of the season is for, although I’d have preferred that not have happened against New York.  Although perhaps the throw would’ve been high and Jeter would’ve been able to advance, so maybe it’s a good thing.  You never know.  And Drew made a nifty catch in the sixth; he chased down a ball and caught it without batting an eyelash.  Seems routine, but consider the amount of territory he has to cover out there, and consider the unique challenges presented by Fenway’s right field.  Everyone’s so busy harping on the fact that his offense doesn’t measure up to his contract, but his fielding skills are pretty underrated.  Besides, heading into last night, he’s hit .361 against Pettitte with three homers.  Not that that was evident at the plate but still.

And now let’s talk about the hit batsmen.  Pettitte hit Youk in the helmet in the fifth inning.  That’s epically not okay.  That ball is traveling goodness knows how fast, and you hit someone in the head with it? You could kill someone that way! To be fair, I don’t think Pettitte was actually concertedly trying to hit him, but it was still very unsettling.  Lackey then hit Jeter in the elbow in the next inning.  The home umpire warned both benches.  Although Lackey said he wasn’t trying to hit Jeter either, and I believe him.  It was a one-run game against the Yankees; Lackey wasn’t born yesterday.  It was just a weird couple of incidents.

We welcome Jimmy Piersall, Tommy Harper, and Don Zimmer to the Red Sox Hall of Fame.  The J. Geils Band and Aerosmith will share a bill for a concert at Fenway in August; should be awesome.

So the first series of the season is officially over, and we lost it.  To New York.  Again, most definitely not what I had in mind.  But you can’t afford to read into it much since it’s too early to tell which negatives are there to stay and which are just temporary.  Moving forward, we’re taking a road trip to the Midwest; Wake pitches in Kansas City tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to that.  Wake’s still got it, and Kansas City doesn’t, so it should be a good opportunity to score some runs and get a win.  After that it’s Buchholz, and the starters will have completed one rotation and the first week of the season.  Folks, we’re underway!

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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We now have more to deal with this offseason than we bargained for.  We all expected Theo to have his hands full with fixing this team, which obviously has holes in it.  That’s hard enough.  But in addition to that the front office and coaching staff just took two huge hits.

Brad Mills is now the manager of the Houston Astros.  Congratulations and good wishes for success, though not at our expense.  To be honest, Mills achieving success at our expense isn’t likely.  Mills will have his hands full down there, because the Astros haven’t exactly been World Series material year in and year out.  But I will say that after spending time in the dugout with Tito, Mills will have learned from the best.  Still, I don’t expect the Astros to suddenly become some sort of threat.  Of course, now we have to find a new bench coach, one who’s as good or better than Mills.

It’s finally official: Jed Hoyer is now the general manager of the San Diego Padres.  Congratulations and good wishes for success, though not at our expense.  That leaves Ben Cherington as our sole assistant GM, but I think he can handle it.  More importantly, this has profoundly positive implications for a possible Adrian Gonzalez trade.

Speaking of player additions, I wouldn’t be too surprised if our front office attempts to do business with Ben Sheets.  As Theo said, it would be a low-price, low-risk move that could pay off big dividends down the road.  And if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.  No harm done.  Besides, it’s not like Sheets can afford to be as proud as he used to be.  After all the injuries he’s had, he’d be lucky to be in uniform for a contender next year.

Dean Jones, Jr. of the Baltimore Sun says that John Henry is the best owner in Major League Baseball.  Can’t say I disagree.  Pedro Martinez and his ego took advantage of a second visit to the World Series stage when he revisited the Don Zimmer incident.  He agreed with Zimmer that it was Zimmer’s fault.  Also can’t say I disagree.  Speaking of the World Series, the Yanks lead it two to one.  Let me just say that the region of New England will not be very happy with the city of Philadelphia if the Phillies fail to decimate.

And that’s a perfect segue into some extremely disturbing developments.  On Wednesday, Red Sox Nation and I visited the Boston Globe to read Tony Massarotti’s column, just like we always do.  But we were in for a profoundly rude surprise.  Mazz urged Red Sox Nation to root for the Yankees in the World Series because apparently a Yankees win would reinstate New England’s competitive fire.  I literally had to do a double-take.  Tony Massarotti, one of New England’s most trusted sports writers, was recommending the ultimate crime.  The ultimate blasphemy.  The ultimate act of treachery and betrayal.  First of all, let me take this opportunity to affirm in writing that I will not, nor have I ever, nor will I ever, root for the New York Yankees.  It is impossible for me to do so.  I am a Red Sox fan.  I loathe the New York Yankees with every fiber of my being and will in no way and at no time even consider the possibility of remotely supporting their organization.  And I think I can safely say that Red Sox Nation wholeheartedly agrees with me on this one.  You should have seen the comments on this column.  There were hundreds of them.  I assure you that you would be hard-pressed to find one that agrees with him.  Secondly, I was not aware of the fact that we lacked competitive fire.  We’re Red Sox Nation.  We’re the greatest fans in all of baseball.  You don’t get much more competitive fire than that.  So Mazz insults us, he insults our history, and he insults our loyalty.  I’m not sure Red Sox Nation and I will be able to read his columns in quite the same way again.

Furthermore, an article appeared yesterday in the New York Times by lifelong Red Sox fan Joe Nocera.  Same story.  He urged Red Sox Nation to root for the Yankees because they’re the underdogs.  Let me say something right now.  The New York Yankees are never underdogs.  How can a team be an underdog if they attempt to buy a championship every single year? What, they don’t win a World Series in eight years and all of a sudden they’re the victims of the rest of the league? There is a huge difference between a drought of eight years and a drought of eighty-six years.  And this article offends me personally because the author is a Red Sox fan behind enemy lines.  The New York chapter of Red Sox Nation has more fight than any other, and now he’s suddenly okay with the Yankees winning a twenty-seventh title? This is incredibly insulting.  Remember where you come from.  Remember the Royal Rooters.  Remember those eighty-six years.  And never forget 2004.

Nico Savidge of the Daily Cardinal wrote an article with the headline, “Yankees represent everything wrong with baseball.” I couldn’t agree more.  I suggest that both Mazz and Nocera read this as a reality check.  Let’s not forget that the Yankees are the Evil Empire, a business crushing opponents with its oversized wallet.  And don’t even get me started on the steroids, the ticket prices, and the broadcasters.  Seriously.

And that brings us to Tuesday.  On Tuesday of this past week, we celebrated the five-year anniversary of the 2004 World Series victory of the Boston Red Sox.  That was the greatest day in the history of the franchise.  It vindicated a Nation and set an entire region of the United States of America free.  I can’t even begin to describe the elation of that victory.  There’s only one way to sum it up:

“Back to Foulke! Red Sox fans have longed to hear it: the Boston Red Sox are world champions!”

Red Sox fans around the world were glued to their television sets on the night of October 27, 2004.  Generations of diehards achieved peace with that final out.  No victory meant more to a fan base than this victory meant to us.  And that’s why, even though this October didn’t turn out as we’d planned, five years later we’re still on top of the world.

The Patriots defeated the Buccaneers, 35-7.  We get a bye this week.  The Bruins lost to the Devils and shut out the Oilers yesterday.  With Lucic and Savard both on the injured reserve, I’m just glad we’re still putting W’s on the board.

The Onion

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It’s time I talked about the Manny-Jack incident. It was a horrible thing for Manny to do, and it was an irrational response to a reasonable occurrence. Manny wanted sixteen tickets, there were no sixteen tickets day-of-game and Jack said so, and Manny got angry. I’m not excusing what he did by any means, but I’d like to point out that this issue would be receiving nowhere near the media attention it’s currently receiving if it weren’t for the shoving match between Youk and Manny. All eyes are now focused on Manny when it comes to aggression. Of course, the incident would’ve received coverage, no doubt, but I don’t think it would’ve received as much. As for the apparent lack of consequences, Tito did state that the matter would be handled internally. For all anyone knows, Manny has already been disciplined or fined or something. We’re on the outside, we weren’t there, we don’t know the issues. Manny and Jack have both come forward and asserted that the incident is behind both of them and that they’re still friends.

I agree with the opinion that there should be consequences. But the Red Sox have a tradition of keeping these matters private. You can’t just assume that nothing’s beind done because you’re not reading about it. The Sox handle contract negotiations in complete secrecy, they keep trade information low-key, and they manage internal affairs internally. When Pedro Martinez got into it with Don Zimmer, nobody was ejected from the game. And now plenty of people in Yankee country are calling for public disciplinary action against Ramirez. Well, I didn’t see the Yankees doing anything about Randy Johnson’s shoving of a photographer, telling the man to get out of his face.

Some Boston columnists are even calling for Manny’s suspension. The truth of the matter is that they weren’t there. They weren’t on the scene and they don’t know exactly what happened. You can’t call for a suspension unless you know all the facts, and with the Red Sox handling it internally, a strategy with which I completely agree (it keeps the team focused instead of stewing in the public’s opinion of an issue), that just isn’t going to happen.

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