Ells was El Fuego in the ALDS.
By channeling playoff heroes Lou Brock and Rickey Henderson during Boston's ALDS win over the Rays, potential free agent Jacoby Ellsbury made his best case yet for a lucrative, long-term contract.
He hit (9-for-18), ran (4 steals, 7 runs), and fielded with grace, showing no lingering effects of his recent foot injury. With the exception of when David Ortiz faced David Price, Ellsbury was the best player on the field, and the enthusiasm he displayed when scoring the late, go-ahead run in the clincher was wonderful to see.
Thursday, as Boston baseball experts and fans spent the off-day debating the pros and cons of giving a deal in the neighborhood of seven years and $140 million to an injury-prone player who just turned 30 -- and whose single biggest asset, speed, is often the first thing to fall off with age -- I decided to approach the No. 1 Ellsbury expert in the Fenway Reflections home office for yet another view.
Definitely cuter without the beard.
"Yes. he's SOOOOOOOO cute," Rachel Alpert-Wisnia stated when posed with the should-he-be-signed-or-should-he-be-left-to-go question over breakfast. "When he has the beard he looks yuck, but when he doesn't have the beard he looks yeahhhhh!!"
Lest you think Alpert-Wisnia, a 9-year-old veteran in the Newton Girls Softball League, is just another "pink hat" who cares only for Ellsbury's looks, keep in mind that she actually wears a blue hat and knows team chemistry is key whether you're in the majors or fourth grade.
"He's been part of the Red Sox for a really long time, and he's made friends with all the guys," Alpert-Wisnia added as she reached for her backpack. "I think he should stay because if he leaves he might lose those friendships."
Rachel ready for action.
This is a keen insight, especially considering that the strong relationships on this squad are thought to be a key reason it has overachieved to a level unseen in Red Sox Nation since the 1967 "Impossible Dream" team. That karma -- which will be on display again Saturday night at Fenway Park in the ALCS opener against Detroit -- should be preserved as much as possible.
Greed, a vice apparently missing from this year's Boston club, should be another key factor in Ellsbury's decision, Alpert-Wisnia insisted.
"Why be greedy, when you can still make a lot of money here, and you know it's a cool team?" she queried. Rachel didn't seem to share my assertion that Mo Vaughn probably wishes he could take back his own choice to leave Boston for the greener pastures of Anaheim, but perhaps that's because the Hit Dog retired in 2003, the year before she was born.
Ellsbury is currently a big part of Rachel's day. Each morning when she wakes up, the first thing she does is say "Hello, Jacoby" to the Toops baseball card taped to the front of her pink Lego alarm clock. When she goes to Red Sox games, it's a bright white Ellsbury home jersey she puts on over her tee-shirt du jour.
"We get used to guys when they stay on the team," Alert-Wisnia added. "We know what they are like." Asked for an example, she fist-pumped her heart and pointed to the sky, ala Big Papi. I knew exactly what she meant. How many of us kids of the 1970s could recite the Red Sox lineup and each batter's mannerisms by heart, because players stayed with teams much longer then? I can still see Yaz tugging up his pants and spinning his bat, and Fisk crouching menacingly over the plate.
Rachel is glad Dustin Pedroia is likely to still be here when she's in high school, but she wants Ellsbury to stick around, too.
At least until she's old enough to marry him.
Stick around, Jacoby, for Rachel's sake.