Tag Archives: Fenway Park

Hey, Red Sox, Play to Win the Game!

With two on and and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning of an eight run ball game against the Toronto Blue Jays this afternoon, a Red Sox legend strode to the plate, the powerful…Sandy Leon.

OK, maybe not a Red Sox legend. But a Red Sox legend was supposed to. David Ortiz was set to come to the plate before Red Sox manager John Farrell decided to pinch hit Leon, a backup catcher for the Sox. Big Papi has been swinging a hot bat of late and had smashed a ball into the bullpen in right in the fifth inning, but Farrell decided to take out the dude people come to the ballpark to see and sub in the guy nobody’s heard of.

David Ortiz homered, but the Red Sox struggled on a sunny Sunday at Fenway.

David Ortiz homered, but the Red Sox struggled on a sunny Sunday at Fenway.

My brother Dan turned to me and said, “that makes me want to leave.” And I said, “me too,” and we stood up and headed for the exits on Yawkey Way.

From a purely baseball perspective, it was a pretty brutal day at Fenway–starting pitcher Eddy Rodriguez’s stuff was pretty on point for a while, but E-Rod (idk if people call him that) fell victim to a brutally suck out-y fourth inning in which a series of bloop singles and misplays in the field led to a six run frame, and Rodriguez left after struggling again in the fifth; Pedroia kept losing balls in the sun; the bullpen sucked (per usual); and the Red Sox never led.

But the one thing that really stuck in my craw was the decision to pull Ortiz in the ninth.

Sure, the Red Sox weren’t going to win. Only a miracle would have erased the eight run deficit the Red Sox were facing. But sports fans’ fandom, particularly good fans–the masochistic ones who root on their teams through thick and thin–hinges on the idea that sports games (and seasons) are not over ’til they’re over. That old Yogi Berra quote cuts straight to the core of sports fan (or player, for that matter) psychology. It’s why we wear rally caps. It’s why we love a fantastic comeback. Or a huge underdog. Games must be played to the end. It’s not over until the clock strikes zero. Or until the fat lady sings. Or whatever cliche floats your boat.

When a team says, “eh, we’re done with this game,” it’s a big F you to its fans. Sure, exceptions can be made. When you’re down 25 late in the fourth quarter of a basketball game, or 35 in a football game, sure, throw in the scrubs and run down the clock. But, as a general principle, the white flagged is best waved as late as possible in sports.

Of all teams, the Red Sox should know that. After all, it was the BoSox that came back from down 3-0 to the Yankees in ’04. In fact, the Red Sox have had enough late-game comebacks in the past decade to devote an entire blog post to them. And Ortiz is Mr. Clutch. There is nothing better than Ortiz in the box with runners on in the ninth. (Actually, that’s a lie: Ortiz in the box with runners on in extras might top it.) And what possible benefit could come from bringing in Sandy Leon? Did Ortiz need the rest? Had sitting on the bench all afternoon exhausted him? Was Ferrell worried about Ortiz pulling a hamstring on the walk to the plate? Had Ortiz already retired to the clubhouse for some fried chicken and beer, John Lackey style?

The Red Sox are not a very fun team right now. They’re a fielding disaster, their pitching is horrendous, and half their lineup is underperforming. But they’re still a pro baseball team. It’s one thing for Sox fans to be treated to bad baseball. It’s something else entirely to be treated to a team that quits on games.

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Thoughts From a Humid Day at Fenway

I finally made my first visit of the season to Fenway Park today to take in a game between baseball’s two best offensive teams, the Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers. The weather was less than ideal, humid and in the low 80s, but the threat of rain never materialized into anything more than the occasional drizzle, and the game was played without delay. Despite playing without their best (and MLB’s best) player, the injured Miguel Cabrera (I was pretty bummed I didn’t get to see him play),  the Tigers were able to grab a 3-0 road win. Here are a few of my rambling thoughts from my vantage point in Loge Box 133:

  • Doug Fister, who got the start for the Tigers, had it working. The formidable Sox lineup had no answer for Fister (or his curve
    Doug Fister pitched a gem.

    Doug Fister pitched a gem for the Tigers.

    ball, which was an absolute weapon today) and Fister managed to escape trouble by forcing the Red Sox into some well timed double plays. He logged seven innings, allowing four hits, four walks, and no runs.

  • Sweet Caroline was a bit flat today. It is never as good during day games as night games (I attribute this to the relative lack of inebriated fans during day baseball), but today’s Sweet Caroline was especially weak. But hey, the Tigers’ dugout seemed pretty into it. In fact, they seemed to be having a grand old time the whole day.
  • TV doesn’t add anything to Mike Napoli’s beard. It’s just as wonderful in person.
  • Ortiz still looks a bit lost at the plate. Papi had a rough month of August and he really struggled near the end of the month, at one point going 22 at bats without a hit. He seemed to be breaking out of his funk this weekend against the White Sox, knocking in six runs and grabbing five hits in three games against Chicago, but he didn’t look good today. He grounded out weakly his first AB, popped one up his second time up, and grounded out again his third time out. His fourth at bat, well, I’ll get to that in my next thought.
  • Bruce Rondon, the Tigers’ 22 year old Venezuelan reliever,  is ridiculous. Not human. He came into the game in the eighth and recorded two outs, both by way of the K. The second came against David Ortiz, who, at one point in his at bat, saw Rondon deliver consecutive 103 mph heaters. Bonkers.
  • I don’t care for those “I root for Boston and whoever beats New York” shirts. It’s like they forget that there are two baseball teams in NYC… #sadmetsfan
  • The concessions still suck at Fenway. It’s also still the coolest place in the world to see a baseball game.

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