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Monday, July 27, 2015

Looking back on Pedro's Day and Papi's Night, 25 years later

It is June 2040, and Cameron Piper is at Fenway Park with his son, Eddie, for a Red Sox-Providence Whalers game -- 8-year-old Eddie's first time at Fenway. 

Cameron: "Did I ever tell you about my first Red Sox game, Eddie?"

Eddie: "No dad, when was it?"

Cameron: "I was 7, just a little younger than you  now. Tickets were only $50 each, if you can believe that, and I went with Grandma Bart, Grandma Jen, and Aunt McKenna. It was her first game too."
Jen, Cameron, Bart, and McKenna Piper, 
July 26, 2015.

Eddie: "Did the Red Sox win?"

Cameron: "You better believe it. They were having a really tough year, but that night everything went right. They had 20 hits and won 11-1."

Eddie: "Did you stay the whole game or fly home early?"

Cameron: "Actually this was when we still used road cars, and we did stay till the end. We even got there early because it was the day Pedro Martinez was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and they played his speech on the big video screen."

Eddie: "You mean the one they used to have before the Blimp Boards?"

Cameron: "Yup. You've heard of Pedro, right?"

Eddie: "Sure, wasn't he the guy they named the earned-run-average title after? The president of the Dominican Republic?"

Cameron: "Yup, that's him. They played his speech, and in it he thanked a couple of his favorite teammates including David 'Big Papi' Ortiz of the Red Sox. They played together in 2004 when the Red Sox won the World Series. You remember I told you about that team, right?"

Eddie: "Sure, the team that finally beat the damn Yankees and broke Baby Ruth's curse."

Cameron: "Right, something like that. Anyway, after Pedro thanked Ortiz in his speech, Big Papi had three hits including two home runs -- and drove in seven runs!" 

Eddie:"Wow, that's great!"

Cameron: "What's really neat is that they are both from the Dominican Republic, and when Ortiz went into the Hall of Fame in 2024, he had Pedro introduce him to the crowd!" 

Eddie: "That is cool. What else happened in the game?"

Cameron: "Well, Xander Bogaerts had four hits and Eduardo Rodriguez pitched seven great innings to get the win. He was just a rookie that year but he would wind up winning three Cy Young Awards -- the first Red Sox pitcher ever to do that."
Rodriguez got win 6 of 234.

Eddie: "He's in the Hall of Fame too, right?"

Cameron: "Yup -- he won 234 games, the most of any Red Sox pitcher. Want to know a secret?"

Eddie: "Sure, what?"

Cameron: "You're named after him. I saw him pitch so many great games for the Red Sox and he brought me such joy that I figured I'd share that joy with my first son."

Eddie: "AWESOME!"

Cameron: "Your mother doesn't know, so let's keep it our secret, OK? Want to know another one?"

Eddie: "Sure!"

Cameron: "Rodriguez just got voted into the Hall of Fame this past January, and next month when they induct him, you and I are going!"

Eddie: "NO WAY!"

Cameron: "WAY! We can fly from Boston to Cooperstown in 16 minutes, check out the museum, watch his speech, and still fly back home in time for your Quiddich practice at 5:00."

Eddie: "Great, thanks dad!" 

Cameron: "Sure thing, son. Now hurry up and eat your Fenway Frank before it gets cold. It cost $36.00."


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What can Red Sox Super Sub All-Star Brock Holt NOT do? We found just a few things...

Brock Holt probably won't play seven positions for the American League in tonight's MLB All-Star Game in Cincinnati, but it likely wouldn't surprise folks watching back in Boston.

Holt, the lone All-Star for the Red Sox this season, has been leaping Green Monsters all season for Boston. The fan-proclaimed Brock Star has already played everywhere on the diamond but pitcher and catcher, and has handled himself well at each spot. 

At the plate he's no slouch either. He ranks among team leaders with a .791 OPS, 15 doubles, and 4 triples, and in June he became the first Red Sox player to hit for the cycle since Jon Valentin in 1996.

So what can Brock Holt NOT do? Just a few things...

Be the first Red Sox sub to win a batting crown
Holt is currently third on the team and 19th in the AL with a .292 average. Back in 1950, Billy Goodman  spent all season looking for a regular position on a star-studded Red Sox team, and despite never finding one hit .354 to top the league. Like Holt, Goodman played everywhere but pitcher and catcher for Boston.

Be the first Red Sox to hit for the cycle twice.
The only player to accomplish this rare feat two times for Boston is Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr, in 1944 and 1947. 

Be the first to player to field all nine positions in one MLB game.
This has been accomplished four times, all between 1965 and 1980. 

Marry your sister.
On Nov. 9, 2013, shortly after finishing up a season split between Boston and Pawtucket, Holt married Lakyn Pennington. 

Do whatever he wants with a baseball.
It just seems that way sometimes.

Again, it just seems that way sometimes.

Run for president.
At 27, Brock is still eight years shy of the minimum required age of 35. But don't count him out in the next Boston mayoral election. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Just how long was last Sunday's Red Sox-Astros game? It was so long that...

Hanley gets a hand -- from those still on hand.

The end result of Sunday afternoon's 5-4 comeback win by the Red Sox over Houston was ideal for Boston fans, but for a long time it didn't feel like those of us at Fenway Park were ever going to get to the end.

Although the game went the standard nine innings, it took a toll on fans who gutted it out to see Hanley Ramirez's one-armed homer in the seventh and Koji Uehara's final two strikeouts to end matters.
Get excited folks, it's a one-run game!

The clock in right field read just past 5:35 pm as Uehara pumped his fist after the final out, marking the official time of the contest as 4:01 -- a far cry from the sub-three-hour games Boston and other MLB teams have been turning in this season. 

There were 167 pitches thrown by Houston hurlers, 174 by Red Sox pitchers, and plenty of good quips in section 30 as the hours turned into more hours.

So just how long was Sunday's game? It was so long that....

The eighth inning ended with D'Angelo Ortiz on deck.

Shane Victorino went back on the 15-day DL, came back, and went on it again.

I needed to eat breakfast. (Jason)

My wife and kids just left me. (guy in the next row back)

They had to mow the lawn again.

I had to shave my legs again. (pretty lady in shorts who would not give her name)

Starter Eddie Rodriguez (101 pitches) was rested and warming up, ready to come in again if needed in extra innings.

Thousands of fans left to catch the last T before the trains stopped running.

My stepmom Judy actually began to understand the game

Nine-year-old Karl, who caught a David Ortiz foul ball in the first inning, had headed back to Virginia for high school by the time Ortiz fouled off eight pitches in the eighth.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Who in the world is Alejandro De Aza, and what's he doing saving the Red Sox season?

Hand it to Ben: De Aza is a find.

Fans shrugged their shoulders and scratched their heads when the Red Sox responded to their worst start in a half-century by trading for a .214-hitting outfielder on June 3, but nobody is questioning the pickup of Alejandro De Aza for minor league pitcher Joe Gunkel now.

The failure of Rusney Castillo in his first extended MLB trial and an injury to Hanley Ramirez opened up left- and right-field spots for De Aza in the starting lineup, and the 31-year-old Orioles castaway has become one of the hottest hitters in baseball. 

In 23 games with Boston, during which the Sox offense has sprung to life, De Aza is batting .338 with a 1.034 OPS. On the recently completed roadtrip to Florida and Toronto, he went an insane 12-for-26 with 12 runs scored, 3 triples, 2 homers, and 8 RBI.

Boston was 24-30 when De Aza was acquired, and has gone 13-10 with him in the lineup. There is no denying he has provided a spark.

Thursday's 12-6 victory over Toronto, which gave the Red Sox a season-reviving 5-2 record on the trip, marked another big night for De Aza -- 4 RBI on a single, double, and triple while bating eighth. Throw in great defense and experience at all three outfield spots, and you have a guy who it will be tough to remove from the lineup even if Shane Victorino is about to come off the disabled list and Ramirez is healthy.

Should Victorino start over De Aza? 

De Aza has been a solid player for the last five-plus years, producing a  .749 OPS with his dependable glove and speed on the bases while usually starting for the White Sox and Orioles. He's also shown flashes of power, with 17 homers for Chicago in 2013. 

The lefty-swinging Dominican doesn't have the peak numbers of a Victorino or Ramirez, but if the latter's defense and attitude stay shaky and the former can't stay healthy, De Aza may be a difference maker as Boston seeks to stay in a tight AL East race.

"I'm not saying De Aza is going to come in here and platoon in left with Hanley," manager John Farrell told reporters after the trade. "But at the same time we've got a veteran, a guy who can run, a guy that can play all three outfield positions. We were able to acquire a veteran guy who has some success and track record."

It is unlikely De Aza can continue his torrid production, but he deserves to stay in the lineup while he's white-hot and the Red Sox are winning.   

A familiar sight in June: Alejandro is on again.