Posts Tagged ‘John Lackey’

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Why I Couldn’t Care Less About Theo Epstein Leaving

October 26, 2011

Boy Wonder. The Man Who Broke the Curse. The Mastermind. Inventor of the “Scouting and Player Development Machine.” Genius.

However you liked to refer to Theo Epstein over the past ten years, his era in Boston has ended in a shitstorm that I think gives the best nickname of them all: Houdini. Did this guy who just oversaw the biggest collapse in regular season baseball history really just sign a five year, 18.5 million dollar contract to run the Cubs? The man who signed John Lackey to a five-year, $82.5 million contract, only to see Lackey post the worst season of any starter in baseball history (literally) two season later, not only didn’t get fired, but he also got a promotion?! The genius who signed Carl Crawford, to patrol the smallest left field in baseball… then have him bat 7th because we already had our top six hitters in the lineup, to a seven-year $142 million contract not only watched Crawford put up a sub-.300 on-base percentage, but also got a promotion in job title? Am I the only one who feels like this…

If you agree this makes less sense than Helen Keller riding a bicycle in Times Square, keep reading. Otherwise, you’re probably a delusional Cubs fan, and I’d recommend you continue this blissful fit of ignorance and stop reading. But before you go, here’s this peace offering…

Melanie Iglesias does Youtube flipbook videos. I don't know what that means either, but you should watch them.

Somehow, Theo Epstein is made of teflon in the baseball world. He quit on the Red Sox in 2005 citing his “heart and soul” wasn’t into the job when he got offered a three year $4.5 million deal. This guy who supposedly lived and died with the Red Sox growing up in Brookline, Mass. didn’t have his heart and soul in running the team?! I don’t even need to explain how absurd this is. Then, for whatever reason, ownership didn’t get pissed and move on from the spoiled brat who ditched town in a Gorilla suit: THEY BEGGED HIM TO RETURN.

In the mean time, Theo’s replacement at the time (and replacement now) Ben Cherington, swung the deal that won the Red Sox the 2007 World Series when he traded top prospects Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. Lowell won the MVP of that World Series, and Beckett was the team’s best pitcher. Epstein is on record as saying he wouldn’t have made that deal, which is fine. We wouldn’t have won that World Series, either, though.

Now, after the epic collapse, a manager who lost control of his team, and a team that committed mutiny worse than Jack Sparrow’s crew, Epstein moves to a team that hasn’t won a World Series since 1908. We are all about to find out if the boy really is a genius. The Cubs are an absolute mess right now. They just won 71 games, they have no star players, a bunch of bad contracts and a weak minor league system. When Theo took over in 2002, the Red Sox had a nucleus of players left behind that carried the team within an inning of the 2003 World Series. With some minor tweaks, a lucky free agent signing (David Ortiz) and a Curt Schilling falling in his lap, the Red Sox finally broke the Babe’s curse the following season. If the Cubs can play .500 ball this year, it’s an enormous success.

What everybody was thinking...

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Red Sox 2011 Post Mortem

October 5, 2011

Water is clean and pure and capable of washing away man’s sin. Last week, raindrops fell from the sky and struck my window sill with the cadence of a revolutionary enlisted regiment. I awoke in a foggy glaze of the night prior. The events transpiring in a dreamlike flash that could only be harbored in my narrowest subconsciousness. The better part of me forgetting what caused such a restless night’s sleep, I immediately snapped into an intense clarity from the slamming of metal whose rusted pistons signified refuse had been cleared from the street. Suddenly, water, with its solely unique volatility to sustain life and create decay,  became toxic when mixed with the human waste removed from the slick pavement. The Red Sox season ended earlier that morning. Moon light casted a midnight shadow over a vacant Fenway Park whose grass would go dormant and die before stitched rawhide rolled along it again.

Often, the feats of an athlete or team are romanticized in such a way to make Thoreau or Emerson himself wish they had crafted the words. I tried it for the previous paragraph, and found that aside from sounding like a douche, the 2011 Red Sox deserve no such pleasantries. The garbage removal description is a fitting coincidence to this Red Sox season. It’s a week later, and I feel no different than the minute after Evan Longoria did his best Dr. Kevorkian and used a walk-off home run to euthanize this Red Sox season. Sick, pitiful, and causing more pain with each passing day, it was the merciful thing to do.

Somewhere over the past seven years, the Red Sox shifted from an emotion-filled baseball team of self-proclaimed idiots and cowboys, to a faceless corporation of high paid suits working a 9-5. Maybe that’s what happens when you win the World Series for the first time in 86 years. Then do it again three years later. Gradually, the losses hurt less, the wins provided less joy, and I found myself  rooting for a team with about two likeable players. The Green Monster is littered with advertisements, center field tells me where to grocery shop, NESN is forcing Bill James “Temperature Gauge” down my throat like a Nathan’s Hot Dog contest, and Fenway Park is a summer social scene rivaling the swanky bars on the wharf. In 2003, I cried myself to sleep after Aaron (Uffin’) Boone ended the  Red Sox World Series hopes with a left field walk off homer. In 2011, I was numb to Longoria doing the same thing. If the guys on the field didn’t care, I couldn’t either. Quite frankly, I needed this loss. The Red Sox as an organization needed this loss.

Now, after the biggest collapse in regular season history, heads are starting to roll. Francona, the most successful manager in Red Sox history is the first to go. Citing a mutual decision, in which reports say Tito simply lost control of a clubhouse full of prima donnas. While many fans might wish it weren’t true, Tito became such a player’s manager, and kept things so “in house” that there was a mutiny. Unfortunately, captain’s go down with their ship.

The fact that fans and the media are so outraged by pitchers drinking beer in the clubhouse shouldn’t be such a “holy shit” moment. In the 60s, 70s, and 80s, guys were borderline stoned and cracked out on the field. Baseball and beer are practically synonymous. David Wells pitched his perfect game hungover on no sleep from the night before, and if you read any accounts from old-time baseball, most players were notorious drunks (Ruth, Foxx, Cobb, Mantle to name a few Hall of Famers). Blame this season on some Bud Light smoothies all you want, but it required much more for a collapse of this magnitude. True pros don’t let things like beer get in the way of their craft. I may or may not be shnockered right now, but it wouldn’t get in the way of amazing blogging.

Bud Light Girls. Because there haven't been any girls in this blog. I'm too focused.

More realistically, this season went to hell in a handbasket when the starting pitchers all dropped faster than acid in front of Jimi Hendrix. After Dice K’s elbow finally exploded from all those imaginary gyroballs he could throw, Clay Buchholz’ literal broken back was the straw that broke the idiomatic camel’s back. Suddenly, we were left with a rotation of:  

Jon Lester: Mediocre all season, with a few gems mixed in, until an embarrasing September in which he resembled a left-handed John Lackey.

Josh Beckett: Had a fine season, and I hate to come down hard on a guy with a sub-3 ERA, but this dude was straight up obese by the end of the year. In his final start, he was resting his glove on his pot belly while holding runners on like Homer Simpson rests a Duff on his gut.

Erik Bedard: What do you say about a guy who doesn’t just live on the DL, he buys up other property and becomes the landlord? Thanks for those 5 inning, 3 run efforts you served up.

Tim Wakefield: The quest for 200 wins took longer than Ulysses” god-forsaken Iliad and Odyssey combined. Night in and night out were were treated to Timmy lobbing watermelons up to the dish praying one night we’d score 12 and not give up 13.

John Lackey: Shellackey, Mouth Breather, Big Hoss, pick your name for him, but this guy just put up the worst statistical pitching season in Red Sox history. If you missed it, don’t worry, there’s 3 years at 17 million per remaining on his contract. The only thing that could make Lackey more unlikeable  is if I told you he is in the process of divorcing his cancer-stricken wife. Wait. Crap.

Basically, we were taking the field every night with a disadvantage in pitching matchups come September. On top of all that, the lineup somehow stopped producing.

Adrian Gonzalez – turned into a singles hitter, as reports came up that his surgically repaired shoulder limited his power. Not sure how everybody forgot he even had a surgically repaired shoulder when he decided to use his SURGICALLY REPAIRED SHOULDER  in the Home Run Derby.  There were times during the season Gonzalez looked like me roping opposite field home runs during wiffle ball. There were other times he put up consistently horrendous at bats against the Yankees and Rays in every big September game.

Kevin Youkilis– You can’t be that out of shape and constantly banged up for so long without it taking its toll. I can’t picture Youkilis making any movement without a grimace and wince. Dude probably rips a hemi just trying to wipe. Now let’s see what a full year flopping around at third base got him: a hip flexor and sports hernia that landed him on the bench during  the most important month. Perfect.

Varitekalamacchia– The catching platoon that actually produced some of the best power totals from that position was nonexistant in the final month. ‘Tek simply is too old to be squatting when the September chill hits his bones. Salty hits breaking pitches worse than Bobbi Brown hit Whitney, and the league figured that out.

Carl Crawford– somehow, went from being the best statistical player in the game last year, to an anemic liability this year. He actually had a few walk-off hits early in the season that everyone assumed would snap him out of his slump. But for whatever reason, once he signed a contract for triple the Rays payroll this year, he apparently thought he had to bat .700 with 113 home runs and 346 rbis. What I still can’t figure out is how he wasn’t even stealing bases. I know you need to get on base to steal, but he was a total non-factor in every aspect of the game. Fittingly, the Red Sox lost the final game on a ball that Crawford failed to make the play on. It summed up his entire suck season in Boston.

In the end, the real Red Sox fans have their team back: chokers who invented new ways to lose. It just took a few seasons of looking in the mirror and lying to ourselves to finally recognize how much has changed. We see all of these problems and finally realize we need help. Theo has been living off World Series titles that  have masked his inability to add any productive piece to the team via free agency.  When you’re a big market ballclub, Moneyball is fun, but it’s the actual money that puts you over the top.

Stay tuned…

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Can Red Sox Play Game #163?

September 27, 2011

Heidi Watney just finished fumbling her way through another post-game interview. The Red Sox star of the game just finished answering her muddled, predictable questions: each one ending in some form of “how were you able to do that.” None of this is really news (other than the fact there was a Red Sox star of the game, implying a win). The story here is the player answering those questions. No, Jacoby Ellsbury did not get asked to talk, even though he hit ANOTHER home run, this time giving the Sox a 2-1 lead. Yes, Heidi tossed softball questions to a Yale product who probably could have better explained the current world economic crisis: rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway.

Just mute it and enjoy.

Ryan WHO!? La-varn-way. Phonetic. Phenomenal. Phuckin’ clutch. Lavarnway is the Red Sox reigning two-time Minor League Offensive Player of the Year. But you couldn’t predict this one. Early in the game Francona had a soundbyte explaining his decision to go with Lavarnway over banged up starter Jarrod Saltalamacchia: “maybe he’ll run into one. Otherwise, we’ve got Salty to finish off the game.” Ahh Terry, you sly fox. You meant run into one or TWO. As in Lavarnway would clobber not one but two (not Green, we’re in Baltimore) MONSTER home runs. The first a three run homer to provide a 5-1 lead. The second an insurance run making it 8-4 at the time, ended up being the difference in an 8-7 win in which Sox relievers tried as hard as they possibly could to blow the game.

So now, the Red Sox live to see another day. They actually trailed the Rays by 1/2 a game in the win column tonight for about an hour. Red Sox ace Jon Lester is on the mound tomorrow. Beyond that, nobody knows what to expect from these Red Sox. The team who started the year 0-6, is trying to finish the regular season on a two-game win streak, something they haven’t had since August. The win tomorrow will only ensure a one game playoff with the Rays. And as sure as Alfredo Aceves’ arm (three straight appearances, 3 2/3 innings tonight) is held together with toothpicks, crazy glue, rubber bands and Bengay, that one-game playoff WILL happen if the Red Sox win. There’s no way the Rays go out tomorrow and lose to the Yankees spring training split squad team. The Yankees threw their top four relievers in the loss tonight, so none will be available tomorrow. They earned that rest. All the Rays have to do is beat up on second or third rate pitching. Red Sox fans earned a pacemaker and some Zantacs in watching a month with just six wins, and a nine game lead erased.

But what about that one game playoff? Who would even be pitching? The Rays will have lefty phenom Matt Moore, who has only struck out 15 batters in 28 outs. The Red Sox? Reports today said they were looking into trading for a guy to start one game, then not even be available for the playoffs. Desperate? That’s worse than taking your cousin to prom. It’s having your mom PAY your cousin to go to prom with you. For $161 million this season, that’s what the Red Sox money will get them. That, or John Lackey. Now, the cousin coming to prom doesn’t look so bad, does it?

What’s going to happen? Who knows. The Red Sox might go out and have a classic double figure scoring day and the Rays could get shutout by no names. That’s the beauty of baseball. My money’s on a one-game playoff in Tampa Bay. Rookie phenom versus disgruntled mouth-breather with the highest single season ERA in Red Sox history (Lackey). Advantage: Rays