Friday, March 30, 2012

Sox Explore Options for Theo Compensation

(BOSTON) The Boston Red Sox continue to explore options in the compensation battle for departed General Manager Theo Epstein. In the wake of the Red Sox historic September collapse, Epstein bolted to the Windy City and the Red Sox received what many consider inadequate compensation. The primary chip in the deal was minor leaguer Chris Carpenter, who has recently undergone surgery in his throwing elbow.

General Manager Ben Cherington has tried to no avail to identify "fair compensation" in the extend and pretend fiasco that the Sox have undergone.

  1. Cherington sought permission to throw one pie in the face of Epstein, but could not get agreement regarding the flavor of the pie. In preliminary talks, Epstein also agreed that only Carpenter could throw the pie, right-handed of course. 
  2. Looking slightly blue, Cherington threatened to hold his breath for ever-increasing times. This made him look slightly foolish in comparison with the constant chatter from manager Bobby Valentine. 
  3. In response to the Sox constant requests for "Matt", the Cubs delivered a custom embroidered "Welcome to Fenway Park" mat for the Sox GM. Cherington was reportedly not amused.
  4. When asked about the delay in compensation, Epstein replied that the Cubs worked off the Mayan calendar.
  5. Epstein denied any culpability or feelings of guilt about the process. "After all, you're dealing with an organization run out of "wriggly". 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Training Progress

The Sox have appeared on NESN several times and last night I watched a few innings via an MLB channel on cable, the YES Network feed. Paul O'Neill and Lou Piniella couldn't have been more complimentary to practically everyone who ever wore a Red Sox or Yankee uniform.

Of course, I can only watch a few innings of a Grapefruit League game at this point...with developing wandering interests, neck stiffness, and some blurred vision. You can't expect players to play nine immediately, and you can't demand that fans endure the ordeal that is the Red Sox and Yankees either.

It seems as though every hitter is taking an extra pitch, or fouling off some, such that four innings of Felix Doubront seems like a whole game's worth of Denny McLain. His pitch count had to be at least seventy-five, and it's not Japanese baseball so I'm not expecting any eight inning, 150 pitch outings.

So how did I watch the game anyway? First, I had to check the travel distance from Fort Myers to Tampa (a little over two hours) and wonder how many players were looking forward to that little excursion (and the long bus ride afterward). Then, I had to peruse the starting lineups to check which (minimum four) starters drew the short straw.

Then, watch some ball. Piniella and O'Neill didn't like the Sox infield on the move (adjusting to infield in) in the first inning of a Spring Training game. Bill Belichick would call it "situational baseball", getting players adjusted to a situation that could arise in a key moment of a ballgame. Is Bobby Valentine going to be moving infielders in the first inning of every game? Doubtful.

You can argue that it's Red Sox-Yankees, and there's something special every time these teams meet. Well, you can argue it, but on March 13th, you'd be wrong. Guys get in their work. The ones left behind for the intrasquad game thank their lucky stars, and maybe more of them should be thankful every day for getting the chance to play a game for a kings ransom.

I'm glad there's no game on today. Enough was enough yesterday, and I didn't have to ride the bus there...or back.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Let The Beatings Begin

The Red Sox entertain Boston College and Northeastern today. In a gathering which should provide a lifetime of memories for players, families, and friends, the Sox get out of the box quickly. If only they could have beaten up on the Orioles so easily at the end of 2011.

Speaking of beatings, we'll be getting an insufferable number of comparisons between Terry Francona and Bobby Valentine soon enough. How can the media extol the retiring Jason Varitek for his meritorious service marked by great preparation, and condemn (or even hint at) Valentine for excessive work on fundamentals?

"Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" might have been a popular book, but the players who don't give away an at-bat, who take the extra base, hit the cutoff man, play better positional defense, avoid collisions in the field, and hold runners on base might actually steal a game or more over the season.

The clubhouse 'scrubbing' takes time. And everyone knows, had the Sox won a couple more games last year, that the gradual erosion of order and discipline in "America's Most Beloved Ballpark" would never have come to light.

I discussed the situation with an unnamed Fenway Park employee recently, asking for his opinion. His answer? It's not hard to see that once many players get their set-for-life contracts, they don't care as much as they did previously. While that's human nature, I doubt many Sox fans feel that way about the team. Like Shakespeare, they may want more of the "lean and hungry look". 

How many times have you seen some baseball travesty (horrible bunting, running into outs, defensive miscues and errors, 0-2 fastballs down the middle) and said, "I'll never watch them again." And the next night, like some incorrigible heroin addict, you're back watching NESN. Admit it. You're hooked...incapable of  NOT watching a children's game that all-too-often becomes as watchable as cricket. Start getting your dose know you will.