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September 22, 2014

Please Please Tell Me Now

What I’ll remember most about this game is the interminably long review that ended with the incorrect outcome. The umpires at the MLB headquarters took so long Duran Duran’s “Is There Something I Should Know?” played twice while they reviewed whether or not Mookie Betts’s throw to Daniel Nava pulled the first baseman off the bag in the seventh inning.

I know you’re watching me every minute of the day, yeah
I’ve seen the signs and the looks and the pictures that give your game away, yeah

NESN showed the play from multiple angles and it seemed clear that Caleb Joseph was out to complete the 5-4-3 double play. Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy were shocked when crew chief Dana DeMuth removed his headphones and signaled that Joseph was safe. Jonathan Schoop followed by grounding into a force play at second so the missed call didn’t impact the game.

The Red Sox beat the Orioles in this meaningless series. If only there were more of such wins earlier this season, then Boston fans could be celebrating like these Baltimore devotees.

This fan went so far as to make a mascot costume and wear it to Camden Yards. Keep in mind this is in a town where the average relative humidity in the summer hovers above 80%.

Orange really pops when used in a wig. Add football pads, Hulk hands, and a sequined top and you have a vibrant duo ready to cheer on their pennant-winning squad.

This Orioles Batman joined forces with makeshift mascot man late in the game. They even saw each other unmasked, which reminded me of the Looney Toons episode where Ralph E. Wolf and Sam Sheepdog removed successive layers of costumes.

Mookie Betts led off the game with a home run into the seats surrounding left field. He became the youngest player to clout a home run to start the game since fellow second baseman Bobby Doerr. Doerr did the same 75 years ago on August 1, 1939 in a game against Cleveland. The Hall of Famer hit two homers off Bob Feller that day.

Miguel Gonzalez is no Bob Feller and Betts isn’t Doerr. But amongst the Red Sox rookies Betts has been most consistent. But that didn’t spare him from having to don a ridiculous outfit.

Game 156: September 21, 2014
WinBoston Red Sox
3 W: Joe Kelly (5-4)
H: Tommy Layne (9), Burke Badenhop (13)
S: Edward Mujica (8)
HR: Mookie Betts (5), David Ross (7)
Baltimore Orioles
2 L: Miguel Gonzalez (9-9)
2B: David Lough (6)

September 21, 2014

Bloom is Off the Rose

Rubby De La Rosa had another rough outing. In his last three starts he hasn’t lasted beyond four innings. His repertoire just isn’t versatile enough yet to be successful as a major league starter. He’ll either have to add pitches to his arsenal or learn how to be an effective reliever. Adam Jones in particular profited from De La Rosa’s inexperience to the tune of two home runs.

John Farrell will have Steven Wright start in place of De La Rosa for the rest of the season. He reached his innings limit and could use the physical as well as mental break.

A rookie that has taken to the rigors of starting in the major leagues is Christian Vazquez. Of late the Red Sox had been blessed with offensive catchers who couldn’t throw out runners. Vazquez has shown competence at the plate and a cannon to boot. He easily caught Alejandro De Aza attempting to steal second base in the first inning.

Vazquez’s dazzle behind the dish got Don Orsillo dancing.

First baseman Christian Walker crushed his first major league home run in the fourth inning. The blast landed in the bleachers in right-center. As Dennis Eckersley would say, it looked like he hits home runs just to keep in shape. Look at him running around the bases blowing bubbles. He’s too cool for school, man.

Game 155: September 20, 2014
Boston Red Sox
2 L: Rubby De La Rosa (4-8)
HR: David Ortiz (35)
WinBaltimore Orioles
7 L: Darren O’Day (5-2)
2B: Ryan Flaherty (13), Nelson Cruz (32)
HR: Adam Jones – 2 (27), Christian Walker (1)

September 20, 2014

Eight Great Seasons

Last night David Ortiz surpassed all other Red Sox players for total seasons with 30 or more home runs and 100 or more runs batted in. He clouted a solo homer in the fourth inning to knot the game at 1-1 and added another line to his entry in the annals of Red Sox history.

Ortiz has accomplished this feat eight times, one more season than Ted Williams. When Ortiz and Manny Ramirez paired up for their historic era I thought Ramirez was the one who would be honored in Cooperstown.

Voters would find it difficult to overlook Ramirez’s 50- and 100-game suspensions in 2009 and 2011 respectively. But they may forgive Ortiz’s appearance on the 2003 survey list that contained names that were never supposed to be revealed. MLB and the players union subsequently stated that these results were not be construed as definitive for use of performance enhancing substances.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Ortiz blasted a two-run homer in the 10th inning to pull Boston ahead 5-3.

Rusney Castillo collected another infield hit. He beat out Ryan Flaherty’s throw to first base in the fourth frame. He has power potential but just hasn’t realized it on a major league field yet.

Castillo has shown defensive razzle-dazzle, however. In the fifth inning he scooped up David Lough’s ground ball single and fired to Christian Vazquez. The throw was up the third base line, but Vazquez made the adjustment to tag Alejandro De Aza out on the wrist. With the new rule about blocking the plate perhaps throws that are slightly ahead of the runner are preferable. Throws that are right on-target would force the catcher to make a last-second adjustment to touch the runner right when he receives the ball.

Garin Cecchini made his first major league start and his family made the trip to watch him. Unfortunately he went 0-for-3 and Will Middlebrooks pinch hit for him in the ninth. One of his fun facts included a tidbit that he has a song on his iPod that was released 15 years before his birth. Also, he still has an iPod, a product that Apple finally discontinued.

Game 154: September 19, 2014 ∙ 10 innings
WinBoston Red Sox
5 H: Tommy Layne (8), Burke Badenhop (12)
BS: Alex Wilson (1)
W: Junichi Tazawa (4-3)
S: Edward Mujica (7)
HR: David Ortiz – 2 (34), Yoenis Cespedes (22)
Baltimore Orioles
3 L: Darren O’Day (5-2)
2B: Alejandro De Aza – 2 (23), Nelson Cruz (31)
3B: Delmon Young (1)

September 19, 2014

And Our Goal’s In Sight

Here are a few folks whose jobs you may envy.

The street entertainer Burgh Man seems to be a fun gig. He has a comprehensive website that explains his origins:

  • Born out of industrial smoke & soot.
  • Forged in the mills of Pittsburgh during the years it was known as “The Workshop of the World.”
  • Shaped by incredible adversity. Just as the City of Pittsburgh, its region and its peoples, have emerged from the ashes of its industrial past to become a future-tech center of the world!

When you gaze upon Burgh Man you gaze upon the future.

The league authenticator applies stickers to game-used items and logs them into the MLB’s system. All my elementary school teachers who gave me Scratch ’N Sniff stickers on my mimeographed assignments (am I showing my age?) have transferable skills.

How about running the pit at Manny’s BBQ? Some people may tire of the aroma of the meat, smoke, spices, rubs, and sauces eventually but I would stop savoring these sensations at exactly zero past never.

Wouldn’t it be great to be a major league manager? Massaging the egos of millionaires while placating the will of billionaire owners sounds intriguing. You do have to deal with know-nothing, non-seeing officials like Andy Fletcher, but every job has its drawbacks.

Then there’s major league umpiring. Imagine the thrill of standing behind the plate and deftly adjudicating the strike zone. Wielding the power to call a player safe or out must be intoxicating. There’s bullheaded managers like John Farrell, who seemed unaware of the rule that a when a player in fair territory is hit by a batted ball the player is out, to deal with. But with reviews by replay umpires on the field can throw out their best guess and then pretend to listen when a manager delays the game to see if the complaining team’s video assistant thinks there’s a case for a challenge or not.

Game 153: September 18, 2014
Boston Red Sox
2 L: Brandon Workman (1-10)
No extra base hits
WinPittsburgh Pirates
3 W: Gerrit Cole (10-5)
H: Tony Watson (33)
S: Mark Melancon (30)
2B: Jordy Mercer (26)
HR: Starling Marte (13)

September 18, 2014

Get Up Everybody and Sing

Yesterday was Roberto Clemente Day, a day to celebrate not only a great baseball player but a self-sacrificing humanitarian. Pittsburgh beat writers would spell out his Spanish accent when quoting him, but Clemente rose above such petty bigotry. He lost his life when a plane delivering aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims crashed. Clemente said, “Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.”

I know Clemente wasn’t part of the “We Are Family” team, but I thought his achievements should be celebrated.

Rusney Castillo made his major league debut in center field. He had four at bats: a ground out to Russell Martin in the second, a single in the fourth with two down and a man on, a fly ball out to center to lead off the seventh, and another ground out to start off the ninth. It wasn’t an electrifying premiere, but he has been bouncing around from team to team while trying to adjust to a whole new world. It will take time for him to learns the ins and outs of the show.

Castillo displayed fielding prowess in the fifth inning. Francisco Liriano, the pitcher of all people, got good wood on a fly ball to left-center that Castillo had to chase down and backhand before it got by him.

Bryce Brentz pinch hit for Clay Buchholz to start the fifth inning and laced a double to the left field corner. That led to Boston’s only run of the game. Mookie Betts lifted a fly ball to right that Brentz tagged up on. Xander Bogaerts grounded out to plate the debutante. Brentz, Betts, Bogaerts: the new killer Bs?

Later Brentz proudly showed off his (fake) souvenir.

Game 152: September 17, 2014
Boston Red Sox
1 L: Clay Buchholz (8-9)
2B: Bryce Brentz (1)
WinPittsburgh Pirates
9 W: Francisco Liriano (6-10)
2B: Ike Davis (16), Clint Barmes (5), Andrew McCutchen (36), Josh Harrison (36)
HR: Gregory Polanco (7), Neil Walker (21), Davis (11)

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