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Posts Tagged ‘George Steinbrenner’

I was thinking about which Dice-K we were going to get last night.  I was thinking we’d get the mediocre Dice-K.  I was hoping we’d get the really good Dice-K.  But I’m not sure anyone thought we’d get the outstanding Dice-K.

Which is a shame if you think about the fact that he’s actually been good for his last six starts.  In his first four starts, he was lucky if his season ERA approached five.  In his last six, his season ERA has been under five.  Actually, it’s been four and change, but with Dice-K you can’t afford to be picky, especially since if you look at those six starts alone, his ERA is 2.95.  Who knew? He’s pitched at least five innings, given up five or less runs, and walked four or less in all six.  So perhaps a corner has indeed been turned.  It wasn’t the dramatic corner-turning we were looking for, as if he’d have a stretch of really bad outings and then suddenly be the next Cy Young, but I think we wouldn’t have seen that from any pitcher anyway.  I think he’s getting the hang of it, slowly but surely.

Which brings us to last night.  Last night he rocked.  He didn’t get rocked.  He just rocked.  He gave up only one run on only two hits, one of which was a solo shot on an offspeed he failed to locate, in six and two-thirds innings.  He walked two.  He struck out six.  And he did all of it with just eighty-nine pitches.  He was fantastic.  He held the entire game in his hands.  He planned it out perfectly.  He controlled each and every one of his pitches; he threw all of them for strikes at least half the time and often as the first pitch of an at-bat.  The first pitch of nineteen of his twenty-four total at-bats was a strike.  Specifically, his cutter and four-seam seemed unhittable, and he was able to use the latter for strikes on both sides of the plate.  He threw eighteen pitches in the seventh, allowing a walk and a double with two outs before he was removed, but he threw as few as nine the inning before, and he tossed four one-two-three innings.  His zone was littered with strikes.

Even better, Dice-K knows what’s up.  He wanted to at least finish the seventh, but knows and understands why he had to be pulled.  He knows he’s inconsistent, but he wants to become that guy we trust to finish the job.  And if you’re self-aware, you’re halfway there.

The inning after Dice-K gave up the homer, we got the run back and then some. Papi hit a sac fly that allowed Patterson, who was already on third with a triple, to score, and Beltre smashed one deep over the left-center field fence.  This was basically revenge for the homer Dice-K gave up.  It was a high changeup, an offspeed that missed its mark.  Those just don’t stay in the park when you ave a guy with power on the receiving end.  He finished three for four.  His hamstring is clearly still bothering him, but as Tito said, if he hits home runs, it doesn’t matter, because all you do after that swing is take a nice leisurely stroll around the bases.

The winning combination of Bard and Paps held the fort and collected a hold and a save, respectively.  Bard came in with two runners in scoring position and induced a popout to third and now has an ERA under two.  His last twelve appearances are roughly the equivalent of one and a third whole games during which he shut out opponents, struck out twelve, walked two, and gave up five hits.  That’s better than most teams’ starters.  Paps was his usual lights-out self.  His past seven appearances are roughly the equivalent of a deep quality shutout start.

Honestly, if you told me Dice-K would only need two runs to get a win, I would have believed you, but I would’ve liked to see it for myself just to know exactly how he did it, which pitches he used, and how efficient and commanding he really was.  And trust me, he was.  He had that game all sewn up.  The Yankees didn’t play yesterday and the Rays also won, so there’s no noticeable movement in the standings.  Yet.  Give it time.  Tonight Wakefield takes on Braden, which should be an interesting matchup.

And finally, a word on George Steinbrenner.  George Steinbrenner passed away before the All-Star Game.  Condolences to his loved ones, of course.  But I won’t lie.  I never liked him or his team, and I never will.  The reality is that passing away just makes you human, not a saint.  The end of your life doesn’t change your legacy.  No doubt the Jimmy Fund appreciates his gracious donation via our annual Radio Telethon.  However, George Steinbrenner’s legacy is one of ruthlessness, destruction of loyalty in the game, and an obsession with only winning.  So, as I said, condolences to his loved ones.  As always, the Big Show must go on.

AP Photo

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Okay.  That didn’t exactly go as planned, and that’s putting it lightly.  We knew it had to happen sometime, but it would’ve been fine by me if it didn’t happen for an incredibly long time.  The New York Yankees won the 2009 World Series.  Wow, that was excruciatingly painful to say.  So basically the Angels wounded us and the Yankees finished us off.  Of all the bad things that could possibly have happened to Red Sox Nation this year, it had to be New York coming out on top at the end of the decade.  Suffice it to say that the region of New England and the city of Philadelphia are brothers in grief, but as I said, the region of New England isn’t very happy.  To be fair, the Phillies gave it their all and put up a good fight, forcing a Game Six and whatnot.  But to be completely honest with you, I’m still furious and bitter about the whole thing.  Words can not describe the anger and frustration I experienced.  I’m sure you can relate.  And don’t even get me started on what it felt like to see pictures of the victory parade.  Viscerally painful.

What does this mean for Red Sox Nation? Does it mean we’re back where we started? No.  Absolutely not.  The curse is long gone.  (Speaking of curses, so much for that valiant attempt to hex the new Yankee Stadium with that Ortiz jersey.) So we don’t have to worry about that anymore.  So what does it mean? Well, quite frankly, it means we’ll have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  It doesn’t mean we have something to prove because 2004 and 2007 have already taken care of that.  In its simplest terms, it literally means we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Alex Speier of WEEI ranked the World Series winners of the decade.  He put the 2004 Red Sox at third, the 2007 Red Sox at second, and the 2009 Yankees first.  This is something I’m having a very hard time believing.  The Yankees didn’t win the World Series.  They bought it.  Just like they bought their previous twenty-six World Series wins.  The Phillies were beaten, more than anything else, by the Yankees organization’s abnormally huge wallet.  Their 2009 payroll was $209 million.  That’s a full fifty percent more than the Red Sox, Tigers, and Mets, who were all more or less tied for second this past season.  (So to all the Yankee fans out there who favor the you’re-one-to-talk line, don’t even try it.)

To that end, in response to “Remember Who You Are,” Jeremy pointed out:

CC Sabathia made $3906 per pitch this season.  AJ Burnett made $4391 per pitch.  Mariano Rivera made $12,500 per pitch. I think I’m going to be sick.

Believe me, we share that sentiment.  Those figures are absolutely grotesque.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen something so disgustingly exorbitant in my baseball life.  This is what ruins the sport.  This is what alienates and disillusions.  It’s just sad and pathetic that New York has to go out and poach their talent in fiscally irresponsible ways.  Signing a pitcher for seven years for that amount of money is completely irresponsible.  The dude could snap his arm tomorrow and never be the same again.  Why would anyone ever sink that much capital into a less-than-stable investment? Similarly, why do you sign a pitcher for five years who’s known to make multiple trips to the DL? I don’t understand what they were thinking.  Burnett is a huge medical liability, not to mention the fact that his consistency isn’t worth his currently salary at all.  One of the reasons they locked Burnett was probably to keep him away from us, and that should never be the basis of any decision, but that’s just what they do.  As far as Mariano is concerned, he is especially not worth it.  For a team so worried about their archrival (remember when they acquired Mike Meyers for the explicit and sole purpose of pitching to David Ortiz?), they’re placing a premium on a closer whose only Achilles’ heel is that same team.  And to pay him that much at his age when other closers just as good and younger are making less should signal the lack of sensibility in their approach to the market.  That organization just does not make sense.  At all.  It’s stupefying.  Every time I read something about Brian Cashman and any Steinbrenner, I feel my powers of common sense drain out.

By the way, Bronx leaders are considering naming the soon-to-be-constructed the East 153rd Street bridge after Derek Jeter.  I’m sorry, but that’s just ridiculous.  We have the Ted Williams Tunnel because Ted William was the greatest hitter who ever lived, a soldier in combat for the United States in two major wars during the prime of his baseball career, and an avid supporter of the Jimmy Fund.  He was a local, regional, and national hero.  Derek Jeter is a shortstop.  There is a huge difference.

Now that the Yankees have, you know, won and all, I think we need to move forward constructively.  An instrumental part of that will be making peace with Jonathan Papelbon.  He may have disappointed us, and he may have humiliated us, and he may have been as porous in his pitching as a slice of Swiss cheese, but at the end of the day he’s still our closer.  And let’s face it: there’s nothing more dangerous than a closer with something to prove.  And I’d say that’s doubly true in Papelbon’s case.  Putting his last appearance aside, he’s a beast.  He’s one of the biggest competitors on the team.  Essentially, he was born to close.  He’s got the power, he’s got the movement, and he’s got the crazy attitude to get the job done.  In the past, when Papelbon got hungry, he went out and he sealed the deal.  And I fully expect him to be back to form this coming season.

Speaking of big competitors, here’s a story that’s been downplayed in light of other impending free agency filings: this coming season is a contract year for Beckett.  After that, he’ll be eligible to become a free agent for the first time in his career.  But if I were you, I wouldn’t expect him to walk away.  Free agency for this year has already begun; notable filings include John Lackey, Matt Holliday, and (you guessed it) Jason Bay.  Other filings included Carlos Delgado, Marlon Byrd, and Adrian Beltre.

Make no mistake: the stove is about to get hot for Theo Epstein.  In fact, he’s already started his move-making.  We acquired right fielder Jeremy Hermida from the Marlins for southpaws Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez.  This could obviously have implications for Rocco Baldelli’s future with us.

We still need a bench coach.  Tito wants to replace from within.  I know technically you’re supposed to take a few years off to transition from player to coach, but Jason Varitek wouldn’t be a bad idea.

So that’s where we’re at.  We have double the pain to conquer now: the experience of an extremely brief October and the surge of the Evil Empire.  Obviously, we’ll get through it.  We always do.  I’m just saying I wish I didn’t have to have this to get through.  It would’ve been so infinitely better if we won the World Series.  And that’s exactly what 2010 is for.

The Bruins aren’t exactly helping our cause.  We were shut out by the Rangers and Devils earlier this week, and being shut out twice in a row isn’t easy.  So that’s bad.  To make matters worse, we lost to the Habs in overtime.  But we ended the week on a high note when we defeated the division-leading Sabres, 4-2.  The problem is that we don’t have a goal-scorer because he’s off playing for the Leafs now.   That’s a problem.  Someone’s going to have to step up and start putting pucks in nets if we’re going to get anywhere this year.

 

Center Field

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