Four Big Questions for A Fantasy Baseball Beginner

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As I begin my first foray into the fantasy baseball world, I’ve come
up with more questions than answers. Here are a few things I’ve
learned: fantasy baseball is way harder than fantasy football. My
fantasy draft is just days away and I have no idea what I’m going to
do. I’ve spent the better part of a week with the flu, so I used that
time to watch 30 Clubs in 30 Days, as well as look at thousands
of box scores and predictions and fantasy advice. But I still have
questions. Here are the four big ones I’ve been trying to answer:

Question 1:

What’s the best strategy? Do you put all your money on the big name
guys and  have the rest of your team come from late rounds? Or do you
maybe spend more on two or three great players, then take all the good
middle round picks to fill up the rest of your roster? Is it smart to
try and take all the good pitchers so you can force trades in your
league for better position players?

Here’s
why this confuses me: in my Fantasy Football league, you go for your QB
and your RBs, because they get you the most points, then it just
depends on who you want and when they come up in the draft. But fantasy
baseball? There are a million different strategies and I have no idea
which one works best.

Question 2:

How
far do you trust your instincts? I fully believe that Jacoby Ellsbury
and Jason Bay are going to have phenomenal years. I also expect C.C.
Sabathia to get injured or not do as well this year based on the sheer
amount of work he did last year. But he’s ranked high in the ESPN draft
order and projected to have a great year. Bay ranks fairly high and
Jacoby is not that far down, but tehn comes the question: if you are
not going for a name like Sabathia, do you try and take Bay earlier
than he’s supposed to go to try and get a better price? It is all very
confusing.

This also applies to
currently injured players, like A-Rod. Do you still take him in the
draft even though he won’t be playing for a while? Or should you wait
and try and pick him up as a free agent? (not that I would ever take A-Rod, but I’m curious.)

Question 3:

For
our draft, its an auction draft, and we nominate players on our turn.
Here’s a big strategy question that I just can not figure out. Do you
nominate the player you want or nominate someone to make others spend
their money. Like if you want Youkilis as your 1B, but its too early
for him to go, do you nominate Teixeira in hopes of getting your
opponents to spend more of their money, thus leaving you with more
draft power in the middle rounds, or do you go ahead and nominate
Youkilis and hope you don’t have to overpay for him?

I
did two mock drafts and tried both tactics with mixed results.
Sometimes I got the guy I wanted, sometimes I overpaid, sometimes
someone else nominated them and the bidding got too high.

Question 4:

Homerism.
I looked at my team, and I had Pedroia, Beckett, Bay, Lester and
Papelbon on my team, and Drew and Masterson on the Bench. Drew and
Masterson I don’t mind because if they do look good, or if Drew has
another month like he did last June, I can throw him into my outfield,
but I began to wonder about the others. Did I pick Beckett and Lester
because I think they are going to have a great year, or because they
are Boston pitchers?

Papelbon,
Pedroia, and Lester were all smart picks, I think. My gut is telling me
that Lester will have a better year than last year, and Paps is always
good, plus, he’s in a contract year, which certainly doesn’t hurt.
Pedroia is off to a good start and I think he’ll have another great
year, he still wants that batting title, so I would count on him having
a high average and on base percentage.

Beckett…well,
he is a smart choice, but I can’t tell if I took him because of his
stats or because he’s from Boston. The same question applies to Bay.
There are a lot of good out fielders in the draft, and Bay is certainly
one of them, but was my decision to pass on others based on the fact
that I wanted the Boston player?

Like
I said, its all very confusing. But when I took a close look at my
tentative roster, almost all the players I want to draft are from the
American League. So not only am I a “Homer” I’m also a league
discriminator.

So those are my four burning fantasy questions. Next I’ll try and highlight a few guys who, in my opinion, will be busts and sleepers.

Pink Hats, The Youk Fu, Picture Day and a Changeup

There’s a lot to cover today, and since Spring training has officially started, we finally have news! On a funny note, Manny rejected another massively huge offer from the Dodgers. That’s his fourth offer he’s declined due to either: not enough money or not enough years. Really, at this point, Boras should be telling him to take anything because no one is going to pay as much as he wants for as many years as he wants because we know that Manny doesn’t play unless its a contract year. Enough said.

Next on the list, the now-infamous and controversial pink hats. I’ve actually had several emails/comments/etc about the pink hats, either for or against. So here’s the new plan: a poll. Its at the end of the article, so select your answer and we will get a clear picture of how Red Sox Nation (or any baseball fans, really) feel about the pink hats.

Moving on.

A few days ago was Red Sox Photo Day. Probably one of the most ridiculous things in all of baseball, photo day never ceases to produce a few funny pictures.While we haven’t seen all the pictures yet, here’s the first few. We get a glimpse at the “Youk Fu” (to be explained later), we realize that the team as a whole is not particularly photogenic, and we see that Terry Francona looks a little like Ben Kinglsley. Click on the photos to seem them larger.

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kotsaypd.jpgjddrewpd.jpglesterpd.jpglowellpd.jpglugopd.jpg

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smoltz.jpgpenny.jpgpapelbonpd.jpgokajimapd.jpg

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Here they are, from left to right, top to bottom:
Row 1: OF Jacoby Ellsbury, RHP Michael Bowden, 1B/DH David Ortiz, OF Jason Bay, RHP 
           Josh Beckett
Row 2: U Mark Kotsay, OF J.D. Drew, LHP Jon Lester, 3B Mike Lowell, SS Julio Lugo
Row 3: 2B Dustin Pedroia, RHP John Smoltz, RHP Brad Penny, RHP Jonathan Papelbon,
           LHP Hideki Okajima
Row 4: RHP Junichi Tazawa, C Jason Varitek, RHP Tim Wakefield, 1B Kevin Youkilis,
           Skipper Terry Francona
Along with being picture day, it also seemed to be father’s day, with Little Papi and Little Lugo hanging out. Here are some super cute pics that made me go “awwwwwww”

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Aren’t they just too cute?
A few final things to address: The Youk Fu. I would try to explain, but I’ll just let Kevin Youkilis do it for me.

http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/x8hxiv
The Youk Fu
by beisbolct

Guess the goatee is out…

Finally, lets take a look at the pitching staff. While Wake was a little rusty in his start, Beckett, Saito, Lester…they’ve all be sharp. Lester has even worked on his changeup a little more and if he continues to progress it through Spring training, he’ll have a very dangerous pitch added to his already ace-like repertiore.

One thing you can’t argue is that the Red Sox have massive depth with pitching. They have several guys who could start but will likely be in the bull pen because they don’t need to start. So that makes the good bull pen even better. Then we have the consistent capstone himself in Papelbon, and I think with a pen this strong, he won’t have to come in for any 5-out saves or even 4-out saves, which will keep him full of gas just a little bit longer.

What can I say, I’m excited about this season. I think they have great chemistry in the clubhouse with guys like Papi, Pedroia, Papelbon, Tek, Lowell, and Youk. They all relax and goof off in the clubhouse, but when the game is on, so are they. And I don’t think we’ve seen the last of “Large Father” and “Pedroia Productions”. I’m sure Pap’s mom has a lot more embarrassing movies of her son that will make their way into the clubhouse this year.

A few final questions facing the Sox this year:
1. Will Jacoby steal his way back into America’s heart by winning another free taco?
2. How much Double Bubble will Tito go through on average a game?
3. Will Pedroia attack the next person who calls him a “little guy” “jockey”, etc?
4. Will the Youk Fu catch on as a national craze?

Finally, and, most importantly:

5. Will Pedroia ever beat Tito at Cribbage?

Here’s the poll:

Your Pink Hat Opinion

I have no opinion. I’m neutral.
They aren’t called the “Pink Sox” so why wear a pink hat
Real fans wear pink hats!
Only for special events, like cancer awareness days
They’re okay if your a girl
Other opinion.


View Results
Free Myspace Poll

 

Some Sox Beat the “Spring Training Rush”

Yesterday, the Red Sox minor league facility in Fort Myers was packed with veterans and newbies getting their workouts in.

Rocco Baldelli, Brad Penny, John Smoltz and Takashi Saito all arrived two days before pitchers and catchers were supossed to report to get their feet wet with a new team.

Co-aces Josh Beckett and Jon Lester were there as well, along with Kevin Youkilis. Lester and Beckett weren’t scheduled to report until tomorrow (thursday) and Youk wasn’t supposed to be in until Sunday, there they all were, the proverbial early birds just trying to get the worm.

Of course, this goes right along with Youk’s reputation as “Mr. Intensity”, and for me, means that baseball is back. And this is a good thing, because if I have to hear one more thing about Miss October (A-Rod) having juiced, I might scream.

There seem to be certain teams, certain locker room cultures across the league that seemed to condone the use of steroids at one time or another. And if you are in that culture, you’re probably going to do it. I’m not defending A-Rod, seriously, would I actually do that? But if he’s stopped, he’s stopped, and you don’t have to add an asterisk to any of his stats from those years because we will all do it in our minds, our own mental asterisks.

But with Spring Training officially starting tomorrow, we can move past the ugly and into what might be baseball’s most optimistic time. At this juncture, everyone thinks 2009 is going to be a great year, and for some teams, it will.

The Yankees made all the flashy moves this off-season, landing CC, Burnett, and Texiera. So that gives them a one-two-three punch of Sabathia, Burnett, and Wang. But who is their fourth starter? And their fifth? Joba made a splash last year, but he could turn into a Buchholz, he’s got fast stuff,  real rocket arm, but how many innings deep can he go? His technique makes him very injury prone, so the Yanks would be smart to keep his pitch count low. And now that everyone has seen Joba, they are going to start figuring him out. And who’s the other starter? Pettite?

And the Rays? The Rays are sort of the dark horse of the AL East. Either they caught lightening in a bottle last year and will be bottom of the barrel again this year, or they’ll still be competitive in the increasingly tough AL East. 

As for the Sox, I’m liking the rotation and the ‘pen. We’ve got Beckett, Lester, Dice-K, Smoltz, Penny, Wake…I’m not too sure what the rotation is going to look like, because you can never count out Masterson and Buchholz.

And while the Sox will miss quite possibly the greatest right-handed hitter of our time at Spring training, the Sox can make up for missing Manny with a meaty bunch of hitters. Pedroia, Youkilis, Drew, Ortiz, Bay, and Lowell, if they are healthy, make for a frightening batting order.

The focus this year, though, for the first time since 2000, will not be on “when will Manny show up”. The focus will be on the team, and their goal to win another World Series, and with the team we’ve got now, its a plausible goal.  

That Dirty Water Never Tasted So Good, So Good, So Good

Watch Jed Lowrie’s Walk-Off Single!

Sox win. Yay!

Lets talk some post-season baseball. First off, what a start for Jon Lester. The Angels were a tough team, and, as Tito said, “we had our hands full [with them]”. So now the best team (record wise) in the AL and the best team (record wise) in the NL are both gone.

Good, good things happened last night:
Dustin snapped his October slump by hitting a rocket RBI double off the Monster (or “Monstah” depending on where you live)
Tek chased down a young guy like a Teddy Bruschi or Rodney Harrison going after a quarterback, getting the out on a suicide squeeze that didn’t quite work.
Lester finishes the ALDS going 14 innings, scattering 10 hits with 11 Ks and 3 BBs and a 0.00 ERA (that’s right, ZERO point ZERO ZERO. As in goose-egg) Can we just say beast?
Bay leads the team in  post-season BA (.412), OBP (.474) and SLG (.882) with 7 hits, 5 RBIs and scoring 3 runs. He hit what could have been an inside-the-park home run, had it not bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double.
Lowrie got quite possibly the most clutch single of his career (more to come, I hope!) scoring Bay for the walk-off single with 2 outs in the 9th.

As with all things, we will take the day to celebrate, then look to the future and the extremely tough Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays. After battling the Angels, I feel like the Sox are up for any battle that gets thrown at them. Dice-K is pretty good against the Rays and excellent on the road. Beckett looked rusty in game 3, but I think he’ll be much better when he faces the Rays. Then we have Lester, who is probably the best pitcher in baseball right now. Throw in Masterson and Oki who are tough, and Manny D and Paps, both with 0.00 ERAs this post-season, and the Sox are looking pretty good, if we can just get that offense going a little more. Now that Dustin got his first hit, I think we’re going to be just fine.

Just for a little fun, here are some post-season pics for your enjoyment! (from http://www.boston.com, click to make them larger!)

cinco ocho.jpgjbay tek.jpg

youk leap.jpgjumping joy.jpg

Finally, because life wouldn’t be complete without some Papelbon antics:

Those shirts, by the way, say “Cinco Ocho: He don’t know how he do…” and on the back it says “He just do”.

Hopefully, Cinco Ocho (Papelbon for those of you who don’t know) will be doing what he do and hopefully we’ll be singing Dirty Water again soon! Go Sox!

How To Ride The Red Sox Roller Coaster

Okay. I’m finally sitting down to do this after last night’s game. I reiterate how much I hate west-coast games and how excited I am that they are playing in the Fens tomorrow. I also gotta say, I usually don’t watch games with my dad. Being in school and all, you know, he’s not there. I’m home for the weekend so I got to watch it with him (its been about two years since we’ve watched a playoff game together). Watching with my dad truly highlighted the absolute difference in generations of fans. I’m from the generation where we don’t remember the heartaches as much. I mean, the first time I saw the Sox in the World Series, I was a month old and they lost (1986 WS). My mom eventually took me away from my dad, for fear that instead of the remote flying at the TV in frustration, it would be me. Of course, my dad would never actually throw me at the TV, but I digress…

So we’re watching the game, and I get nervous, turn my hat inside-out, change shirts, etc., but I don’t give up. I am an eternal optimist. The whole “Sox fans are all crazy pessimists” is a stereotype and you have to look at the ages of  these people. Those of us born in the past 20 years or so only remember a few bad years, like 2003. But we mostly remember 2004 and 2007. While we’ve heard all the stories of all the bad years, we didn’t live through it.

jbayhomer.jpgSo we’re watching the game, and my Dad is like a yo-yo. He can go from loving the Sox to needing a Prozac in 30 seconds or less. Two outs in the first, Drew is up to bat, Papi and Youk are on base. Dad is thinking of JD’s game 1. Then he hits a double and scores Papi. Next up, Jason Bay. At this point, Dad is just amazed, because the Red Sox never rally with 2 outs. Lets be honest, here, no one really does. So Bay steps up and launches a three-run shot, becoming the first Red Sox player ever to homer in his first two post-season games. (Think he’s enjoying his first trip into October?)

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After that, we watched (me nervously, my dad, angrily) as the Angels pecked away at our lead, until finally, in the eighth, its tied 5-5 on a sac-fly in the 8th (inherited runner from Masterson). Due to the day of rest, both Tito and Scioscia had the closers on in the 8th. Paps shuts down the inning, continuing to have a 0.00 ERA in the post-season (its only two games, but still…) At this point, I have changed my shirt to bring some good kharma and my Dad is close to giving up. And we both really, really, really want to strangle the rally monkey (seriously). So Papi hits a double and we come to Drew with one out in the ninth. JD’s  been fierce tonight, and me, the eternal optimist, have already said before this inning: one fo them could hit a home run, you know. My dad scoffed at this but a two-run dinger from JD Drew let me say “I told you so”. JD Drew hit a homer off of K-Rod, with the count 2-2. That just doesn’t happen. All of Red Sox nation is again celebrating JD Drew’s clutch homer (remember last year?) which immediately silenced the crowd and put away the monkeys (seriously, monkeys?).

jdhomer.jpg 

youkwow.jpgDown to the bottom of the ninth, Pap is back, and Hunter bunts, but is out on a good play by Youk. Then Matthews works Paps for quite a few pitches, and fouls one off. It’s going to land in the cameras, but Youk reaches in and grabs it for an amazing catch and the 2nd out of the 9th. Then Paps gets Kendrick to end the game and put Boston ahead in the series 2-0. So here’s to game 3, and for my father’s health (I seriously worry about his heart during the playoffs) I hope they blow the Angels out of the water.

In other news: I’m currently watching the Cubs continue to collapse. Its the middle of the 8th and they are down 3-1 to the Dodgers, two out, one guy on. My prediction is the Dodgers are about to achieve what the Brewers managed to avoid today: the sweep. Any one taking the ChiSox at home? I am. I have this feeling that series is going to go 4 or 5 games. Obviously, I’m gonna take the Sox at home to finish the sweep of the Halos. Maybe killing the rally monkey in the process…you know, maybe one time he bounces right into a black hole or something? Sorry. I have an inexplicable hatred for the Rally monkey. Not sure what that’s about, but…eh.

Hopefully on the playlist for tomorrow: Sweet Caroline, I’m Shipping Up To Boston, Dirty Water and Tessie. GO SOX!  

A Bay-utiful Morning For the Red Sox

Okay, yes, technically it was not morning for the Red Sox, but it was for me as I sat, bleary-eyed, surrounded by research paper sources and cans of diet coke, on my couch last night/this morning. And since the Sox are an east coast team, we’ll just say that very early this morning, the Sox took game one of the ALDS.

How did they do it? In that spectacular, down-to-the-wire, saved-by-great-plays, give-all-your-fans-a-heart-attack way that the Red Sox specialize in. The Angels scored first, capitalizing on an error by Lowrie which should have been out #3 but instead it lead to the Angel’s only run of the game. Since the Sox were scoreless, hitting atrociously with men on, I thought that was going to be the game. Not good for a young player’s psyche.

So we continue on, two outs in the top of the sixth, and Youk walks. So here comes Bay, who has struck out twice. At this point, I’m picking up my books so that when they go to the commercial for the middle of the innings, I’ll be all prepared to do homework. Then Bay just rips one, and it keeps going, and I’m standing up, trying desperately not to wake the rest of my house up (lame people who don’t like baseball and a Phillies fan who was done with it for the night) so I just did a happy dance and sat back down and called my dad. Its his fault I’m this crazy, anyway.
 
bay youk.png

(image courtesy of mlb.com)

Lester was sick. Lester was a beast. Lester proved what I’ve been believing all season, he is one of the best pitchers in the league. And of course, Jacoby had a beastly night. I mean, the catches, the hits, the stealing. I’m just waiting for him to score on a wild pitch. From second. JD Drew and Mikey were back in the lineup, and though they didn’t really produce, Mike hit a few that were well-hit balls but better defensive plays.

lester pitch.png

 

(image from mlb.com)

Oh, and something else historic happened last night. A second Angels player got a hit on Paps. The entire post-season roster is now 2 and 40 against the closer. I like that stat, I just want that big number to keep getting bigger.

Day off today, then again in La-La-Land for another late-night game. This one starts a whole 1/2 hour earlier, but since the next day is Saturday, who cares?

A final note: Jacoby Ellsbury, who had a stellar night including a great diving catch seen in the image below, has a new blog on MLBlogs, it’s called “Jacoby Ellsbury’s Postseason Blog” and you can read it here

ellsbury dive.png

(image from mlb.com)

Sox Slug One, Drop One At The Trop

After looking like they were hitting
in a home-run derby, the Sox failed to produce and lost the second game
on a walk-off single in the 9th. These things happen, you know. All is
not lost, Sox fans. We were tied for the lead, now we’re one game back.
If we take the rubber match, we’ll be tied again. We’ll also have split
the series overall with the Rays.




I would rather lose a one-run game on
a bit of shakey pitching then my ace be clobbered by 6 home runs and
giving up 9 earned runs in just three innings (ehem, Kazmir). Becks had
a stellar game, the offense just couldn’t produce in the second one.




Also, congrats to Jason Bay, who welcomes a daughter, Evelyn Jane. Yay! Tonight, Wake takes the mound  tonight. Go Sox!

Comeback and Sunday’s Game LIVE!

What a comeback last night. Whew. Scary. Live blog time!

Holy cow. What a match-up today. Halladay (on short rest) vs southpaw ace Lester.

Crap. Home run Toronto. Lester is throwing rockets but his control is off. Good thing we have game-manager extraordinare behind the plate (thank goodness for Tek!)

Batter up.

Single Jacoby! Yay! Here comes MVP Dustin Pedroia! (What? I can hope, can’t I?)
Steal Jacoby and Sac-bunt for Dustin, Jacoby to third and here comes big Papi. All we need is a single or sac-fly. I tell you what, Dustin does it all, home runs, sac-flies, doubles, triples, bunts…Papi’s out at first but Jacoby scores, tie game.

Youuuuuuuukkkkk. After a long at-bat, Youk hits a bat-shattering single. Mikey up.

Okay, I get that Toronto really wants to win, but pitching Halladay on three days rest is really not a good move, especially in September. Mike is out at first, and we go to commercial.

Overbay is up. And Lester got him. And the Yankees are leading the Rays 6-3 in the bottom of the 2nd (wow). Say it with me everyone. “Let’s go Yankees!”

Okay, count is full on Rolen and Lester walks him. He is really not finding the strike zone right now.  Wacko chopper, nice stop Pedroia and a bang-bang play. He’s out.

Lester is up 0-2 on McDonald. Come on Jon, just one more strike and we’re good. McDonald is battling. Lester really needs to get some control down, because he’s thrown WAY too many pitches for it to only be the 2nd inning. Swing and a miss, he’s out. Commercial time.

Back to the game. JBay is up. Bottom of the third, Yankees up 6-3 bottom of the third. Oh! JBay hits a double. Yay for JBay! Here comes the Captain. Come on Tek! We love Tek. Whatever he can do to get JBay to third or to score, he’ll do it. And you can talk about how his average is down – good eye Tek! – we need that man behind the plate as long as we can because that man is a beastly fabulous leader. Good job, Captain, sac-single to get JBay to third.

Cora is up and the infield is in. I have a feeling we’re in for a pitchers duel. Both pitchers are up over 30 pitches in the 2nd. The ‘pens will be getting some work tonight. Okay, I think the TBS is in love with Halladay, because they are fawning all over him. Yes, he is a great pitcher, but come on!

Oh, Cora out on strikes. Coco is up. I’d recognize that batting stance anywhere. Oh, and announcers, its impossible to take the Fenway crowd completely out of the game, you underestimate the fan-base.

Coco hits a 2-out RBI single and Ellsbury is up. He has caught fire again, and I am hoping he  can make a big push for Rookie of the Year. Bunt, but they got him. Inning over.

Lester seems to be getting things under control…big hit but Coco is there…1 out. Come on Lester, get them up. Liner back, Lester misses, Pedroia scoops it up and gets the out at first. 2 down. Next up, Alex Rios. Lester gets ahead 1-2. Lets close this one out with a K, lefty. Rips one…they try for it but its in the alley. Double for Rios. Next batter. He pops up and Cora gets it. Inning over.

Dustin is up. I love him, he doesn’t think any pitcher should be able to get him out, and he goes up knowing he’s going to get a hit. That’s the kind of batter I like. Fly out, out 1. That’s okay, here comes Papi. 2-2 on Papi, and he is really not happy with himself. And he strikes out swinging. Top of the 5th and the Yanks are still beating the Rays. Remember that old adage “I root for the Red Sox and anyone playing the Yankees”? Well, things sure have changed.

Youk’s up, down 0-2. Seems like Halladay has found his zone, but Youk is battling. Hit to third, out at fist.

While the Jays are up, here’s a score update: Yankees lead TB 6-3, Os lead Twins 5-0. Good things for the AL East and good things for the AL Wild Card.

Nice catch by Ellsbury for the second out. Wow, what a play by Lowell and Youk! Three out.

Three-up, three down. Crap. Anyone else think the strike zone on this guy is a little off? Oh well, at least he’s consistent.

Batista against JLes, Ellsbury has the catch. You gotta love the Sox outfeild right now. Coco and Ellsbury are speed demons and can move all over to catch the ball. And Jason Bay isn’t exactly slow either. Line out to Mikey and its 2 out. Lester is 2-2 on Batista, got him.

Okay, back to the game with 2 outs in the fifth.  Jacoby up. Come on buddy, get  a rally going.  At least stop the Halladay streak of retiring batters. Nope.  Took a swing at a bad one and struck out.

Bring on the 6th.

I have a theory about the TBS annoucers. I think they are biased, they clearly want Toronto to win this game. Now, in a nationally broadcast game, where there are many more Red Sox fans. Grounder to Pedroia, out at first. Grounder to Mikey and out at first. Liner and foul. 0-2. They are really swinging  at Lester. Swing and a miss and Lester has taken out 8 in a row.

Dustin is up to start. Lets break the Halladay streak. He’s thrown 85 pitches, they have to be getting close to pulling him. Pedroia hits it to third, thrown out at first. And here comes Papi. Yankees still beating the Rays, bottom of the 6th. Papi’s wrist is still kind of bothering him, but he won’t rest until the Sox are done for the season, because that is how Papi plays. Full count. Fly out. Youk is up, Halladay is behind 3-0 on him.  A few pitches later and its full count. Infield ground ball, out at first.

Lester is looking pretty good. Got his sixth K. Dang, Mikey couldn’t make a play, but good stop anyway. I don’t care if Halladay has retured 13 batters and Lester only retired 9. Scoreboard!

Walked him. Two on. Come on Lester! Masterson is warming up in the ‘pen, I love watching him pitch!

DP for Cora, DP and Youk, inning over.

Mikey is up. Halladay is at 105 pitches, full count on Lowell. Base hit Mikey. Lets get a rally started! Bay-man is up, popped out. Bring on the Captain, base hit for Tek! Cora is up and takes one high, ball 1. Hits it, Tek’s out at 2nd, but they can’t get the double play on Cora. Coco is up to bat. Line to left, drops down for a hit and Mikey is in. Coco gets his second 2-out RBI. Jacoby is up. Pops out. Inning done, but another run to pad the lead. Yay!

Okay, I’m gonna shut it down so I can go and get ready to watch the Patriots game. This has been fun, but I’ll blog later. 

Red Sox Blank Rays, Close In On AL East

jles.pngRed Sox 3 Rays 0. Lester pitched into the 8th, allowing 0 runs on 6 hits, striking out 9 and walking 3. Paps came in and got a 4 out save allowing 1 hit and striking out 3. With this win, the Red Sox pull into within a half game of the AL East-leading Rays and move up to 7 games in front of the idle Twins for the Wild Card.

Not really the best night for the bats, considering the Sox had 9 hits and only 3 runs, all of those coming in the bottom of the 1st.  Lester  pitched 7+ innings of shut-out baseball, and Jackson pitched  6 shut-out innings. Fortunately for the Sox, that early jump proved to be enough to win the game.

Tonight the Red Sox made baseball history, breaking the streak for most consecutive home sell-outs with 456, beating the Cleveland Indian’s streak of 455. In honor of that, we will look at the 15 greatest moments at Fenway since May 15th, 2003 (when the sell-outs started).

Why 15? Well, 456 is reasons is way too many to cover in one blog, but 4+5+6=15, which is a much more manageable (not to mention readable!) amount.

15. April 22, 2007: Home Run Bonananza The Sox tie a major league record high 4 HR’s   back to back to back to back home runs in the third to help the Sox onto their first sweep     of the Yankees in Fenway since 1990. Hitting HRs were Manny, JD Drew, Lowell and     Varitek.

14. August 1 2008: A Brand New Bay Jason Bay makes his debut after the down-to-the-wire trade which sent Manny to LA and a few prospects to Pittsburgh. He has a great night,    
hitting well and making a spectacular catch, even scoring the winning run on Jed Lowrie’s
single in the 12th. This is not so great because of the game itself, but the fact that energy     returned to the Red Sox as they played like a completely different team after ridding    
themselves of Manny being Manny and his dramatic unhappiness.

13. October 25, 2007: Schill’s Last Game: In the last home appearance of the Red Sox in    
the 07 World Series, Schil and crew hang on to win a 2-1 pitcher’s duel with the Rockies.
 
12. July 2, 2007 Ellsbury Scores from Second on a Wild Pitch: Three days into his major league tenure, Jacoby Ellsbury did the nearly
impossible. He scored on a wild pitch from    
second base. Texas reliever
Willie Eyre hit catcher Gerald Laird in the leg with a pitch,
and Ellsbury was gone. He never
stopped, never thought twice as third base coach waved     him
home.

11. October 5, 2007 Manny’s First Walk-Off Home Run: Manny knocks a three-run shot out of the park to give the Boston Red Sox a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five American League
    Division Series, beating the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) 6-3.

10. September 21, 2006 David Ortiz hits Red Sox Record Home Runs: David Ortiz    
cemented himself in the Boston record books by hitting 54 home runs in a single season in
2006. It was his 51st, on this date, that put him past Jimmie Foxx’s single-season record,
and made him (officially) Boston’s Home Run King.

9. April 5, 2007 Dice-K’s Debut: Dike K strikes out ten in his major league debut and gives Sox fans a preview of all the Ks that are to come.
 
arodtek fight.jpg8. July 24, 2004 The Fight: A-Rod is hit
by a Bronson Arroyo pitch and proceeds to jaw about it all the way down the first base line. He and Varitek have words, and bam! A-Rod gets a face full of angry catcher’s mit. A bench-clearing brawl later, Tek, A-Rod, Kenny Lofton, Gabe Kapler and Tito were all ejected.

7. September 28, 2007 Red Sox vs.    Twins: A Red Sox win and a Yankee’s     loss gives Boston’s its first division title     in 12 years. Dice-K racks up the K’s     and bows to the fans, while Papelbon    
dances barefoot and thousands of fans hang around for almost an hour to see     the results of the Yankee’s game.
 
6. May 13, 2007 The Mother’s Day Miracle: Bottom of the 9th, the Red Sox are down 5-0 to  the Baltimore Orioles, Julio grounds out, then Coco singles on a throwing error by Ramon     Hernandez and Papi scores him. Mo Pena somehow manages a single that moves David     to third. After both JD Drew and Youk manage a walk, scoring Papi,  Tek comes up and     doubles, scoring both Drew and Mo. Hinske walks, and Youk is out at home (its very close, though).  Back up to bat is Lugo, who made the first out of the inning. He reaches on a throwing error and Hinske and Tek score to win the game.

5. October 20, 2007 JD Drew’s clutch Grand Slam in game 6 of the ALCS: the Sox down to the Indians 3 games to 2, proved to be the straw that broke the Indians’ back and    propelled the Sox to their second World Series win in four years. It was the shot that was heard ’round Boston and will probably always be known as the 14
million dollar grand-slam,     simply because with the bases loaded and
no out, Fausto Carmona had struck out Manny     and gotten Lowell to
pop out, very few people had faith in the then-struggling outfielder.

4.
September 1, 2007 Clay Buchholz’s No-Hitter: In his second Major League start, rookie pitcher Clay Buchholz tossed the 17th no-hitter in Red Sox history, striking out 9, walking     three and hitting one batter in the 10-0 defeat of the Baltimore Orioles. Why is this ranked     behind Lester’s? Keep reading.

3. May 19, 2008 Jon Lester’s No-Hitter: The reason behind this being ahead of Buchholz’s no-no is because not only was it the first Red Sox lefty no-no since 1956, it was also a     record for Jason Varitek, who has now caught 4 no-hitters, more than any other catching.     Aided by a spectacular catch by Ellsbury and some heads-up infield plays, the Sox beat     the Royals 7-0.

2. October 18, 2004 ALCS Game 5: After going 12 innings the night before, the epic game 5
outdid it by going 14, ending when Big Papi’s single brought in Damon for the win. The Sox     would go on to Yankee stadium for the Bloody Sock game, and as the 26th team in playoff history to
face a 3-0 series deficit, become the first to force a Game Seven.

1. October 17 2004  ALCS Game 4:  The Sox go 12 innings, with a walk-off homer in the 12th. But they never would have gotten there if Dave Roberts hadn’t stolen 2nd and scored     on Bill Mueller’s single, tying the game 4-4 in the 9th. This sparked the Sox comeback,     down 3 games to none, to win it in seven take their first World Series in 86 years.

So there you go, 15 great moments from the sell-out period of Fenway park. Next up: A big time pitching show-down as Rays ace Kazmir takes on Sox stud Dice-K. Should be a great game, with the AL East being given to the winner. (If only for a day) So put on your best Papelbon glare and watch the game!

Picture 11.png 

Take A Deep Breath…And Let It Out

I have some staggering stats for you following last night’s down-to-the-wire game.

455. Fenway has sold out 455 consecutive times. Tying the Indians record for most consecutive sell-outs. When they return home after the brief trip to Texas, they will break the record.

.621: That’s Dustin Pedroia’s batting average over the past 7 days.

3.79: that’s the ERA for the starting pitchers. Not bad when your team has average 5.3 runs a game. Look for the ERA to get lower as we roll into September and October. (Especially if Beckett returns to his dominance, and Lester gets his power under control.)

97. That’s how fast Lester threw one pitch against the Orioles. He claims to have never gone higher than 96 in his career. If he can get a fastball that fast under control, he will be the ace of the AL.
ellsbury.jpg

44: Stolen bases for Jacoby Ellsbury, who has struggled to get on base all year. Imagine how much larger that number would be if he could get on base more often…

110 and 191. That’s how many times Dustin Pedroia has scored and how many hits he has this season. Those are both Major Leage Leading Stats.

2. That’s how many players the Red Sox have who are in the running for MVP, some might even say that they are the front-runners.

and finally…

3. That’s the games back we are on Tampa Bay, who still have one more
night with the Yankees, who have now won 6 straight road games. We still lead the Wild Card, but I would love to retake the East just in time for the playoffs.

Now, back to the game.

dice.jpg
Dice-K did well, not one of his stronger outings, but not bad either. We just could not get any offense going.

Except for Dustin, who looks like he could get a hit in his sleep.  The bottom half of the order produced too, at least, a little.

Youk was again out, and Jason Bay had the day off, so already the bats are just a little bit weaker.

The Sox started to come back, then stalled, leaving the score at 4-2 Orioles.

Then Papi got a free pass. Dustin got a double, and Kotsay hit a wall-bouncing triple to score them both, tying the game in the bottom of the 8th.

yaypedey.jpgThe Sox held the Orioles, who threatened with two men on in the 9th, but could not deliver, and then the bottom of the order came up. Cora singled, then Crisp singled on a wack-a-doodle bunt that 99% of the time rolls foul, but didn’t, then Jacoby, who popped out in the 7th with the bases loaded and 2 outs, stepped up and bunted. Cora dived into third, the ball was overthrown, so he got up and scored, meeting his teammates at home, ecstatic to have come back and finished the sweep, something that had been unable to do against the White Sox and against the Yankees.

Yay. And Crisp was running his heart out, not realizing that Cora was the winning run and the game was over.

cora.jpg
That might be the weirdest walk-off win I have ever seen, on a sac-bunt and a throwing error.

We have the night off. Good. I’m tired and I need to watch the season opener for FOOTBALL!!!! Yay.

Disregard this. Minor webmaster testing nonsense.

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