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Posts Tagged ‘John Henry’

Pitchers and catchers officially reported on Sunday.  Fortunately, since we have a lot of badness to put behind us, most of our key pitchers were already down there, and that’s the way it should be.  The season isn’t going to win itself.  But we as Red Sox Nation can be ecstatic about that because it means that we’re one step closer to Spring Training, which is one step closer to the regular season, which is one step closer to having baseball return after a long winter and to putting last season behind us.

Compensation for Theo has officially been hammered out.  We’re getting Chris Carpenter – the prospect, not the Cy Young winner – and a player to be named later in exchange for a player to be named later.  Congratulations.  It only took four months to get this done.

Speaking of Theo, John Henry apologized to Crawford for stating on WEEI that he was against signing Crawford but did it anyway because Theo wanted to.  Crawford apparently apologized to John Henry for his horrendous season in return.  The brass also took ownership of last season’s collapse.  Well, apologies are all well and good, and it’s nice that people are owning up to things and being accountable, but we’ve got a new season on our hands that I think we should get to focusing on.

Rich Hill is on the roster.  Lackey is on the sixty-day DL.

In other news, the B’s were shut out by the Wild but bounced back with wins over the Blues and Sens; we also lost a shootout to the Sabres but at least we got a point out of it.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis
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Well, it was a quiet week.  A quiet, quiet week.

As it turns out, my tribute to Tek may have been written too soon.  Apparently we’re talking to him to see if he wants to come to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, which obviously conflicts directly with his previously stated desire to keep playing legitimately.  Bobby V. hasn’t even spoken to him yet since he’s not on the roster, so I don’t really know.

We signed Sweeney to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal for next season worth $1.75 million.

Randy Niemann is our new assistant pitching coach.  I feel like we shouldn’t be trying to bring people from the Mets to Boston.  It’s not like we need even more dysfunction than we have already.

Theo made an appearance on WEEI’s The Dennis and Callahan Show on Thursday during which he officially confirmed that John Henry opposed the Crawford deal and that Lackey’s elbow wasn’t right at the time of his signing.  He thinks that, when Lackey returns from surgery, he’ll be right as rain.

In other news, the Pats crushed the Broncos, 45-10.  Is anyone surprised? Nobody should be surprised.  The B’s beat the Jets and Habs this week but lost to the Canes.

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Just so you know, this is not going to be a happy post.

First of all, it’s pretty much unofficially official.  Theo is going to take over the Cubs.  It’s a five-year deal, and the only thing left is for the two clubs to agree on compensation since Theo is technically entering the last year of his contract with us.  The deal is currently worth twenty million dollars, which reportedly includes said compensation.  As of late, Theo’s title within the Cubs organization is unclear, but it supposedly is something higher up.

The bottom line is that he’s leaving us, so we’ll have to find a first-base coach, a manager, and a general manager.  Here’s an understatement: this offseason, we’ve got some serious work to do.  With any luck, we won’t actually have to find a general manager and will instead be looking for an assistant general manager; I wouldn’t mind having Ben Cherington take the helm.  That’s where it looks like we’re headed, anyway.  He’s been included in all club dealings so far during the offseason.  He’s been Theo’s right-hand man for years, and the two of them started with Larry Lucchino in San Diego anyway.  It obviously won’t be the same, but it’ll be pretty close.

That is, if you like the job Theo did.  Sure, he made some huge mistakes.  Eric Gagne and Dice-K were the most notable of those; if Jenks doesn’t recover properly he’ll be another, and if Crawford and Lackey don’t turn it around they’ll be a third and fourth.  But I would argue that his good so epically and completely eclipsed his bad that this discussion isn’t even necessary.  His drafting and farming decisions were legendary and include Pedroia, Ellsbury, Youk, and Lester.  He is the youngest general manager to be hired, and he is the youngest general manager ever to win a World Series.  After almost delivering us in 2003, his first season, he lifted us out of the Curse of the Bambino in 2004 and reminded us that we weren’t dreaming in 2007.  His acquisition of Gonzalez was absolutely masterful.  He brought sabermetrics to Boston and made it feel at home here.  He wasn’t just a professional removed from everything; he was a baseball guy and, worth noting, a Red Sox fan.  He’s from Boston, specifically Brookline about two miles from Fenway Park, and that’s something Chicago will never change.  Chicago’s dysfunction as an organization goes well beyond any single position that Theo could possibly fill.  Make no mistake; he won’t simply waltz in there and have them winning World Series left and right.  If he could do that in Chicago, we would have been winning every single World Series title since his takeover of our team, and clearly that didn’t happen.  And if it didn’t happen here, it’s not going to happen there.  But that’s neither here nor there.

This is about what Theo did for this city in his nine memorable years here.  He brought a new approach to the game and put the pieces in place for us to win.  He established a winning culture here.  He’s a genius and will be sorely, sorely missed.  Here’s to you, Theo.  Here’s to everything you’ve done for us and for the game of baseball.  Here’s to the good, the bad, and the ugly, and here’s to smiling through all of it because, all along, in Theo we trusted.  We know that other fans in other places rooting for other teams will be trusting in you from now on.  But we also know that you can take the general manager out of Boston but you can’t take Boston out of the general manager.  We just hope that the great things you’ll accomplish will not be at our expense.

Secondly, all of the pieces to the devastation puzzle are now coming to light.  It’s an ugly story.  Here goes.

It wasn’t one pitcher responsible for the beer-drinking between starts.  First of all, it wasn’t just drinking beer; it was also ordering in fried chicken and playing video games.  Secondly, it wasn’t just one pitcher; it was three.  Beckett, Lackey, and Lester.  I never thought I’d see Lester on that list, although I should point out that the degree to which he actually participated in these goings-on is highly speculative, and it’s possible that he wasn’t really a mainstay.  Apparently they not only drank beer but ordered fried chicken and played video games, all at the expense of working out, and they were starting to get more players involved.  All I know is that when we needed them to deliver most, they didn’t, which is unusual for them so something must have been going on.  We knew they were health, so that should have tipped us off, but I never thought I’d see the day when such people would actually knowingly put on pounds and thereby sabotage everything the team worked for.  It’s sacrilegious. Pedroia probably couldn’t believe his eyes and must have been seething.

Meanwhile, Tito was losing influence with both old and new guys, he was having health issues, and he was living in a hotel due to marital issues.  He insists that the former wasn’t due to the latter two, but I’m also sure that Beckett, Lackey, and Lester insisted that their very visible extra fat and subsequent tanking wasn’t due to their clubhouse habits either.  I’m actually inclined to believe Tito, though; he’s focused, dedicated, and committed, and we can’t just assume that he doesn’t know how to handle personal issues in his life and balance them with his job.

Then, apparently, the team accused the brass of caring about money more than results when they scheduled the doubleheader in response to Hurricane Irene.  Then the veterans on the team, including Tek, started pulling back on leadership.  Wake exacerbated this problem by calling for a return next year so he could break the all-time wins record; neither the time nor the place when you’re days away from playoff elimination.  And Youk, as you can imagine, was more of a clubhouse pain than usual, which we all knew but didn’t feel because all of these other issues weren’t present before.  At least, if they were, we didn’t know about them to this extent.  Youk was the only player to call Ellsbury out for his time on the DL last year due to his rib injuries.  And it’s obviously admirable and dirt-doggish indeed that he played through his injuries this year, but doing so apparently brought the worst out of him socially in the clubhouse.  And when you’re hanging on by a thread in the standings, that is so not something you need.  Gonzalez, of all people, joined in the pettiness by complaining about the late-season schedule.  I honestly thought he would be much more Pedroia-like than that.

Ellsbury, by the way, is officially the American League’s Comeback Player of the Year.  I can’t think of anyone who would deserve it more.  He earned every last bit of that honor this past year, so hats most definitely off to him.

Add to that the fact that the signing of Crawford was largely a push from Theo over which the brass was divided.  If you ask me, I would have said it was the other way around.  Crawford’s strengths, both in practice and in numbers, aren’t that compatible with sabermetrics, the philosophy used to build the team.  So I thought that we would all find out that it was Theo who was against it, and it was the brass who was pushing him to sign Crawford because of the wow factor of bringing in a star or something.

All in all, the team this year turned out to be one big, dysfunctional family on every front.  Nobody, from the players to the brass, was spared.  Everyone who had issues let them loose at exactly the wrong time and in exactly the wrong ways.  Players on whom you depended to carry your team through the stretch in the clubhouse either withdrew or sunk to the level of the players you never thought would sink to that level in the first place.  It seems like it was just an awful atmosphere completely non-conducive to anything positive or constructive.  Obviously you’ve got to consider sources of this information when you read stories about this, but I guess now that we know the end story, we saw the signs all along.  That’s true of Theo’s departure as well.  At the time to us on the outside, all of the signs were too subtle for us to keep putting two and two and two and two together to come with what is clearly a very elaborate set of social circumstances that spiraled out of control and led to our painful and epic downfall.

Organization chemistry, both in the clubhouse and in the front office, is a very difficult thing to fix and cultivate.  It’s organically grown, and you either have it or you don’t.  You can’t force it.  Now Papi is claiming that he’s seriously considering free agency as a way to escape all the drama.  It’s all been meshing so well recently; how, in such a short time, could we become “that team” with all the drama? It’s like a soap opera.  Seriously.

John Henry even drove down to 98.5 The Sports Hub on Friday completely on his own because he felt like he had some records to set straight.  He said that Crawford was not signed to boost NESN ratings, although he confirmed that he did oppose it but ultimately approved it because baseball operations were for Theo and Larry to govern.  Henry also implied a confirmation that Theo is going to Chicago while saying that he wishes that Theo would stay.  He said that, during the season, he let the brass know that he was all in favor of picking up Tito’s options and that the only time he thought that that maybe wasn’t such a good idea was when Tito told the brass that he didn’t want to come back.

Significant changes to the organization could potentially be afoot, and that’s either good or bad.  There’s no way to know who’s on the radar or what we should expect.  There’s nothing to do.  No amount of speculation would ever shed any light because this organization keeps everything under wraps, as is appropriate and right even if it is annoying for us fans hanging in the breeze.

The whole situation is crushing.  Make absolutely no mistake whatsoever about that.  It’s crushing.  It’s devastatingly epically crushing in every conceivable sense.  We’ll get through it because we’re Sox fans and we always do, but it’s just so remarkably and epically depressing and crushing.  I can’t even believe that this whole situation is happening.

Ultimately the big question is short and sweet and simple but revealing of the trepidation that’s currently racking all of us.

What’s next?

Also, Scott Williamson is auctioning off his 2004 World Series ring.  Why in the world would you ever do that? That’s completely sacrilegious.

In other news, the Pats summarily disposed of the Jets, 30-21.  Would I have preferred a blowout? Obviously.  But hey, that score is a lot better than the score we put up against them the last time we played them last season, so I’ll take it.  And the Bruins, since beginning their season on October 6, have beaten Philly, Colorado, and Chicago and have been beaten by Tampa Bay and Carolina.

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We are now a mere five days away from the start of what could be our first hundred-win season in sixty-four years.  This is the part where everyone starts speculating about who’s better, us or the Yankees or the Rays.  That’s a ridiculous thing to do.  We have our guys who play our game, and that’s how we intend to win.  It doesn’t matter who the opponent is.  Our goal is to be better than everybody.  And we are.  And we will be.  Five more days.  Only five more days.

On Sunday, we lost to the Cards, 10-3, but it actually was not Dice-K’s fault.  I repeat: it was not Dice-K’s fault.  It’s so refreshing to be able to say that.  He pitched shutout ball through five innings against a lineup that did include several regulars, including Pujols and Holliday.  With two outs in the sixth, Pujols walked, Holliday doubled, and Dice-K was pulled.  His line was two runs on three hits.  He struck out four, three looking, and walked two for his second consecutive good start.  Miller came on in relief and was horrible; a walk, another walk with the bases loaded, and six runs on four hits.  Atchison replaced Miller and didn’t fare much better.  Most of the damage was done by Pujols and Holliday alone.

We lost to the Phillies, 4-1, on Monday.  It was Lester’s last lengthy start of spring.  He pitched five and a third innings.  He cruised through the first five.  He actually had a no-hitter going until Roy Halladay of all people hit a single with two out in the inning.  Not so much in that one third.  He ended up giving up four runs, three earned, on five hits while walking four and striking out six.  He threw fifty-six of ninety-eight pitches for strikes.  Twenty-five of those pitches were thrown in that sixth inning alone.  Meanwhile, Paps, Bard, Jenks, and Doubront got some throwing time in.

We lost again on Tuesday, to the Rays, 7-4.  Lackey wasn’t at his best; he gave up five runs on six hits over five and a third innings while walking two and striking out four.  He threw sixty-seven of ninety-six pitches for strikes.  Pedroia hit two doubles, and Tek went two for three and threw out a runner.

Wednesday was the team’s only day off this spring.  Gonzalez took the opportunity to DH in a minor league game.  He made extremely solid contact in each at-bat and went three for six with an RBI and a run.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

Thursday was not a good day for Buchholz.  He may have thrown eighty-two pitches against the Marlins and struck out five, but he gave up eleven runs, six earned, on eleven hits, four of which were homers, over four innings, leading to our 15-7 loss.  It was a total implosion.  Salty was the bright spot with four RBIs on three hits, a homer and two doubles.  Ellsbury also went deep.

We put the regulars in on Friday but to no avail.  We lost to the Jays, 11-8.  Corey Patterson had to leave after getting hit in the back of the head by a Bard fastball.  Luckily, he walked off the field, and he appears to be alright.  Five members of our starting lineup posted two-hit games.  Beckett, however, gave up seven runs on eleven hits over six-and-change frames.

The Twins beat us, 9-8, on Saturday.  It was all Jenks’s fault.  He was truly terrible for the first time this spring.  He gave up six runs in the ninth.  Dice-K was the opposite; he gave up one run on five hits with a walk and four K’s over six innings.  He threw sixty-three of ninety-four pitches for strikes.  Gonzalez went two for three with his first homer for us.  Okajima delivered a scoreless seventh.  That brings our losing streak to nine.  Oh, Spring Training.

Roster cuts this week included Daniel Nava, Matt Fox, and Mark Wagner.  The bullpen competition looks like it’s going down to the wire.  Gonzalez’s agent has starting to talk extension with Theo.  Gonzalez’s agent is John Boggs, not Scott Boras, so I actually believe him when he says that an extension should be finalized sometime next month.

New England Sports Ventures changed its name to Fenway Sports Group.  I take that as John Henry reassuring everyone that the Red Sox are his top priority.  Honestly, I never really doubted that.  And Pedro Martinez’s portrait will be added to the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.  Susan Miller-Havens painted him in his Dominican Republic uniform.  Well, he was as interesting a character as he was a baseball player, that’s for sure.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Devils and the Rangers.  But between those two losses was a win so epic and golden that it almost makes you forget them and just focus on the fact that we’re about to clinch a playoff spot.  We soundly thumped the Habs, seven-zip.  You read right.  They had absolutely no chance whatsoever.  And I hope we meet them in the playoffs so we can do it again when it counts even more.  We’re playing the Flyers tonight.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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The stove isn’t hot yet, but it’s definitely getting there.  The Rays lost to the Rangers, so their playoff run is officially over.  Take one last look at the 2010 Rays, folks, because I guarantee you that the team that plays for Tampa Bay next year will be completely different, and I most definitely do not mean that in a good way.  Tampa Bay has been good because their young talent has come through.  But young talent on a mediocre and altogether insignificant team is a recipe for disaster because you can pretty much bet anything that all of them will be writing one-way tickets out of there the first chance they get.  Carl Crawford, for example, will file for free agency this year.

That brings us to a discussion of our outfield.  If you had to pick an area of the team with obvious holes, that’s not necessarily the first one that comes to mind (that honor obviously goes to the bullpen), but it is an area where we can improve.  Drew didn’t have his best season this year.  Ellsbury was injured.  In 2011, I expect to see Drew in right and Ellsbury in center.  Technically, that’s supposed to be Cameron’s territory, but after this year it’s unclear whether we want to or can expect Cameron to man it.  Conceivably, he could split time with Kalish, but in order to become the superstar outfielder he will obviously be, he needs to finish his work on the farm.  Cameron was supposed to be our starter this year, but between injuries and days off, that never happened.  He certainly had his flashes of brilliance, but flashes of brilliance alone doth not a good starter make.

Therefore, Crawford is on the radar.  So is Jayson Werth.  Upon first glance, one would naturally assume that Crawford is vastly superior to Werth and there should be absolutely no debate.  Crawford runs.  Crawford hits.  Left.  Crawford fields.  Crawford is young.  Crawford plays in the AL East.  This year, Crawford batted .296 with nineteen home runs, a career high and ninety RBIs, another career high, and he posted 110 runs, a third career high, and forty-seven steals.  His only conspicuously mediocre stat is his OPS of .781.  Without that OPS, we bat him third after Ellsbury and Pedroia; that left-right-left combination to open every inning would be deadly.  With that OPS, there’s no way he’s batting third.

Werth also deserves some consideration.  A very obvious con is that he comes from the National League; true, he comes from the NL East, which is about as close as any NL division would ever get to the AL East, but still.  He’s not as young as Crawford.  He’s also not as athletic.  But he’s still good.  He plays our style of offense.  He’s patient at the plate.  He hits for extra bases.  His OPS since 2008 is .889, during which time he averaged .279 with thirty-two home runs and ninety-one RBIs per season.  He’s coming off a season during which he hit righties thirteen average points better than lefties.  All of which is to say that he was born to bat fifth.  He also stole home last season, so while he isn’t as speedy or agile as Crawford, you can’t steal home straight without having some serious athletic skills of your own.  And he comes from a big-market team with competitive fans, a playing experience that Crawford basically knows absolutely nothing about.  Ultimately, the argument can be made that he has all five tools.

In terms of coin, it would be easier to work a deal with Werth than with Crawford.  The Yankees won’t be likely to chase either, but if they had to pick one, they’d pick Crawford, and they’d offer him years.  We don’t like to offer years, and rightly so.  We also are unlikely to be willing to even remotely overpay for either of them since, like I said, we have bigger problems than our outfield.  But they’re definitely going to be on the radar this offseason.

Apparently, McDonald had been playing with a thumb injury for quite some time.  That’s a dirt dog right there.  In fact, his was the same injury that sidelined Salty.  He’s expected to be ready to go by Spring Training.  Speaking of Salty, we re-signed him for a year.

John Henry’s New England Sports Ventures group has just purchased the Liverpool Football Club.  It’s not as bad as it sounds.  If anyone can handle everything, John Henry can.  It’s not like he told the front office it has to service two different teams of two different sports in two different countries on two different continents.  We have our front office, and they have their front office.  Just because the two teams have the same owner doesn’t mean our performance will suffer.  I think he’s more than proven at this point that we are the priority.  If he wants to have a side venture, by all means.  At the end of the day, he’s got his eyes on the right prize.

4SportBoston.com

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One thing has become incredibly clear this week: as go the pitchers, so go the Red Sox.  With a team based on run prevention, we should have expected this.  Because if you don’t have effective starting pitching, it doesn’t matter how many runs you score; the opposition will score more.  And it just seems like, somehow and for some reason, the offense is much more comfortable hitting behind a pitcher who’s on.  The cuts look more robust, the at-bats look healthier.  We’ll have to wait and see if that remains to be true, but for now at least we’ve performed noticeably better with good starting pitching behind us.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we should honor him who was honored: Nomar! The retirement ceremony for No. 5 took place before last night’s game, on May 5, 5/5.  I’m telling you, seeing him in that home jersey with that old No. 5 on the back was something else.  When he spoke with Don and Jerry in the booth, he said he cried after being traded; to tell you the truth, it seems in retrospect like he had no idea what he was doing when he wanted to be traded.  It seems like his resentment, the chip on his shoulder, the bad feelings, and the bitterness were the stuff of an immature player who acted on his momentary emotions.  Because I think he’s regretted it since.  You don’t go through all of these measures afterwards to return to the team you left if you didn’t wish you were with that team the whole time.

His former teammates turned out, which was good to see.  Obviously all the guys on the current team were there.  Trot Nixon was there, complete with a standing ovation, along with Brian Daubach and Lou Merloni.  The brass was there.  And of course his family was there.  He didn’t do the batting ritual, but he did the next-best thing: he rubbed some dirt on his hands at shortstop, stood at the third-base side of the mound, and made one of his signature off-balance, side-arm throws to Tek for the first pitch.  That brought back a lot of memories.  How about those two three-homer games, or when he came back from that wrist injury only to go deep and bring home the go-ahead run?

So here’s to you, Nomar.  You finally found what you were looking for:

You might say it’s closure to a playing career, but the door is open because I feel like I’m back home.

What a player.  What a career.

And then of course we proceeded to honor him further with a win.

The final score was 3-1, and Lackey did indeed show his former ballclub who’s boss.  Seven innings of one-run, two-hit baseball with four K’s and only two walks.  That one run was a homer for Wood in the fifth on a pitch that was down because Lackey didn’t locate it, but that was it.  He threw only 103 pitches.  So in four of his first six starts, he’s allowed at most two runs.  He had some trouble in the early innings, including the obligatory bases-loaded jam through which he fortunately emerged unscathed.  He threw forty-two pitches over the first two innings; he threw sixty-two over the last five.  For the entire game, the Angels left three men on base.  Having scored only one run, that means two things: one, that they weren’t given opportunities to score, and two, that they couldn’t make good on the opportunities they managed to find.

He obviously threw mostly cutters, but his mix of pitches was good and he had good movement and velocity on all of them.  His cutter was fantastic.  His quickest inning was the third, in which he threw just nine pitches, followed by the seventh, in which threw ten.  As opposed to the second, in which he threw almost three times as many.  His strike zone was nice and even.  He didn’t throw too high up and limited throwing too low down.  He had some on the left and more on the right.  All in all, a very dominant outing.

Bard followed that with an equally dominant hold, retiring two of his three batters.  And Paps capped it all off with an equally dominant save, enjoying a one-two-three ninth and throwing nine of his ten pitches for strikes.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you close a ballgame.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is Jonathan Papelbon.

The offense was short but sweet.  Beltre’s single glanced off third base, and Wood was charged with an error for failing to catch it while Drew scored.  Papi hit a towering opposite-field home run over the Monster in the fourth.  Pineiro left the pitch up.  After that home run, I don’t want to hear anymore about his supposed slump.  He’s out of it.  It’s done.  Finished.  Leave the man to his business; he’s obviously off to a better start this year than it is last year, so no use turning up the pressure.  Besides, his timing has looked great lately.  And Beltre went deep in the eighth, his second in three games after going twenty-four without.  And he was as good in the field as he was at the plate; amidst pieces of broken bat, Beltre initiated a double play unfazed.  And he fired that ridiculous hop by Kendrick to first on time.

So Scutaro doubled, Pedroia went two for three with a walk, Ortiz went two for three with a walk, and Beltre went three for four.  How ‘bout that.  How about that.

Tonight we go for the sweep and a chance to bring our record above .500, which we desperately need.  Dice-K’s on the mound, so I’m not making any predictions, because as we all know, all bets are off with him.  But still, this is awesome.  We are in a position to sweep the Angels at home in our first series with them this year.  We’ve played baseball during this series that I’d love to see played for the rest of the season.  And we have good momentum going into our series with the Yankees.  I couldn’t have planned it better myself.

We buried the Flyers, 4-1.  I seriously can’t believe the kind of hockey we’re playing.  It’s incredible.  I have no idea where this came from.  All season, we try to play like this, we barely make the playoffs, and all of a sudden it comes out.  Excellent.  Just excellent.

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As usual in these situations, I’m going to cut to the completely unjustifiable chase.  We’re not getting the All-Star Game in 2012.  Kansas City is getting it.  I’ll give you a moment to recover from the shock before I continue, because believe me, this was one seriously twisted shock.  Okay.  Apparently, Kauffman Stadium recently completed major renovations.  How nice for Kauffman Stadium.  It’s brand-new, nice and clean, and very fan-friendly.  Congratulations, Kansas City; now Kauffman Stadium is just like every other ballpark that completes major renovations.

Just to review, the reason why we wanted the All-Star Game in 2012 is because Fenway Park will turn one hundred years old.  The oldest ballpark still in use in the United States of America will commemorate a century of baseball.  America’s Most Beloved Ballpark will celebrate its one hundredth birthday.  Think about what Fenway Park has seen in that time.  It’s seen the Royal Rooters, Tris Speaker, Duffy’s Cliff.  It’s seen Joe Cronin, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski.  It’s seen Nomar Garciaparra, David Ortiz, 2004, and 2007.  It’s seen a team of royalty followed by a team that committed cruel and unusual losses year after year after year, followed by royalty’s return.  If there is a structure in this country that embodies the history of the game of baseball within its very foundation, it’s Fenway Park.

And Fenway Park was denied.  Why? I have no idea.  What, they can give it to New York because it’s the last year of Yankee Stadium but they can’t recognize that America’s Most Beloved, and oldest, Ballpark will turn a century old? I mean, okay, so Kansas City hasn’t had the All-Star game in forty years and Fenway last had it thirteen years ago, in 1999 when none other than the Splendid Splinter threw out the first pitch.  But Fenway only turns one hundred years old once in a lifetime.  Kansas City could’ve gotten it in 2013.  In fact, it would’ve been okay by me if Kansas City had it every year for another forty years if only we could have it this one time.  Something just doesn’t seem right here.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we are extremely and profoundly disappointed and extremely and profoundly confused.

Zack Greinke won the AL Cy Young.  I’ll be very interested to see how he pitches next year.  I don’t think he’ll be as effective.  But I do think Josh Beckett is in line to have a break-out season so dominant that not even CC Sabathia can squeeze past him in the Cy Young voting.  Tim Lincecum won it for the NL, becoming its first repeat winner since Randy Johnson.  Andrew Bailey of Oakland and Chris Coghlan of Florida were the Rookies of the Year.  Mike Scoscia and Jim Tracy of Colorado were the Managers of the Year.  I don’t think I would’ve picked Mike Scoscia.  In my mind, there were three managers this year who faced significant uphill battles and who powered through them: Terry Francona, and then Ron Gardenhire and Ron Washington.  Terry Francona managed us through a lack of shortstop, the entry of a new starting catcher, a decline in the playing time of the team’s captain, a very public steroid scandal, and the worst slump in the career of the figure at the heard of said steroid scandal.  True, every manager deals with things behind closed doors, but what makes Tito’s job so difficult is that those doors are never closed completely.  It’s the nature of sports in Boston.  Gardenhire took the Twins from zero to one-game-playoff winners without Joe Mauer in the first month of the season, Justin Morneau in the last month, or a particularly effective bullpen.  And Washington almost made it to the playoffs this year without big-name talent.  All I’m saying is that, if the award goes to a Manager of the Year within the Angels organization, it should have gone to Torii Hunter, not Scoscia.  He was the real force in that clubhouse.  MVPs will be announced tomorrow.

Again, not much in the way of business yet.  Jason Bay rejected a four-year, sixty-million-dollar offer in favor of testing the free agent market for the first time in his career.  He’s Theo’s priority, though, and I still say he’ll end up back in Boston.  The Cards have already stated that they’re not interested, preferring Matt Holliday instead.  But I think this has the potential to be one of those long, drawn-out negotiations.  By the way, let’s not forget that Jermaine Dye is also a free agent.

We released George Kottaras, who has been claimed by the Brewers.  PawSox manager Ron Johnson will be our new bench coach.  We’re reportedly interested in Adrian Beltre, and we claimed reliever Robert Manuel off waivers.  Before the offseason is done, we’ll probably re-sign Alex Gonzalez and add a low-risk, high-potential starter.  Remember: in an economy like this, you do not need to, nor should you, empty your pockets to win a World Series, no matter what the Evil Empire might assume is the best practice.

Congratulations to John Henry on winning the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship.  Again, corporate social responsibility in this day and age is the way to go.  Unfortunately, though, ticket prices are up this year.  About half the seats were increased by two dollars, including the infield grandstand, right field boxes, and lower bleachers.  The field and loge boxes and Green Monster seats and standing room were increased by five dollars.  The outfield grandstand and upper bleachers weren’t increased.  Whenever you hear about price increases or decreases for tickets at Fenway, remember to always take them with a grain of salt.  Obviously we’d prefer a price freeze, but how many of us really purchase our Fenway tickets at face value anyway? I’m just saying.

So, as per usual this early in the offseason, we have more wait-and-seeing ahead.  Theo never reveals the tricks he has up his sleeve, so that’s really all we can do.

The Bruins suffered a particularly painful loss to the Islanders, 4-1.  I’d rather not talk about it.  We did best Atlanta in a shootout, though, and we eked out a win against the Sabres in sudden death.  That last one was particularly heartening, being that the Sabres are first in the division.  For now.  We’re only two points behind.  And now for the grand finale, let’s discuss Bill Belichick’s oh-so-positive judgment call on Sunday.  In the fourth quarter with a six-point lead, the Pats had the ball on their 28.  Tom Brady’s pass was incomplete.  With two minutes and eight seconds left on the clock, Belichick decided to go for it.  But Kevin Faulk fumbled the ball, and suddenly it was fourth and two.  Needless to say, we lost, 35-34, to the Colts, who are still undefeated.  I mean, it’s a tough call.  Belichick made the same decision against Atlanta and we won.  Then again, we had the lead, we had the time, and we had an opponent that wasn’t Indianapolis.  It was just bad.  It was just really, really bad.

Sawxblog/Derek Hixon

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