Book Review: The Adventures of Fenway and Hooper At Fenway Park

I usually review more serious and substantial baseball books. I couldn’t help but love The Adventures of Fenway and Hooper At Fenway Park by Brian Kalfass so much that I had to write about it. It’s a children’s book about two Boston Terrier brothers named Fenway and Hooper that live in Boston. They spend a day at Fenway Park after Fenway (aptly named) chases a ball into the ballpark. Hooper, named after Red Sox star Harry Hooper, catches up to his little brother and takes him all throughout the ballpark, telling him about its history.

The adventures of fenway and hooperThis book, at 21 pages, doesn’t take long to get through. Readers though will want to spend a lot of time looking at it anyway because of all the wonderful history it includes about the Boston Red Sox. For example, as Fenway and Hooper walk around the park, Fenway asks Hooper about the “ten big red numbers on white circles and one blue number” he sees in right field. Hooper tells him how those are retired players’ numbers, and explains why teams retire jersey numbers. Readers learn so much about Fenway Park through the dialogue between Fenway and Hooper, which is complimented by colorful illustrations by Meaghan Arbital. Making it even more fun, Kalfass adds “Fenway Facts” on almost every page that provides insights and statistics about key Red Sox players. The “Fenway Facts” also include significant events that took place at Fenway Park throughout its history.

Proceeds From the Book Go Towards Cancer Research

At one time, Kalfass’ family faced pediatric cancer, which inspired him to write the children’s book. As Kalfass writes at the start of the book, their dogs, Fenway and Hooper, played a tremendous role in helping to relieve their stress and comforting the family faced during that difficult time.

Two dollars from each sale will go towards cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. You can learn more about Dana-Farber and how you can help by going to their website at www.dana-farber.org. You can also buy a copy at amazon.com.

Brock Holt Left a Lasting Impact in Boston

Over a week ago, fan-favorite Brock Holt traded in his red socks for the navy blue attire of the Milwaukee Brewers. Holt signed a 1-year deal worth $3.25 million to join the brew crew, as Sox management never really made an attempt to bring Holt back to the team. Nevertheless, Brock Holt left a lasting impact on Boston. One that will not be filled for a long time.

Fans all over New England were irate over the deal, as one of the most beloved players on the Sox was

brock holt left

now out of town for a contract that Boston could have easily offered. Regardless of what colors he wears this season, Brock Holt’s impact on the Red Sox and the city of Boston will never be forgotten by Sox fans. Brock Holt left his mark.

“The Utility Guy”

When Holt first came to Boston, no one really batted an eye at the guy. Of course, the Red Sox were in the middle of a championship season, and Brock seemed like just another ordinary guy. A player that would probably flip flop from the MLB and the minors and never find a real gig full time in the league. But after 2013, Holt’s game emerged onto the scene. Boston might have been playing poor baseball in those years, but it gave Holt a chance to shine. He stayed with the big league club for the whole season and even made the All-Star Game in 2015. What was appealing about Brock’s game is his versatility. He could play anywhere on the diamond and swung a pretty solid bat to go along with it. Suddenly, this utility guy from Pittsburgh looked to be a key piece of the rebuilding Red Sox.

Brock Holt Left an Impact Off the Field Too

As Holt’s impact started to become evident on the field, his impact off the field was just as strong. Brock was one of the regulars when it came to helping the community. Whether it was visiting kids in the hospital or helping out with charities like the Jimmy Fund, Holt quickly became immersed in the Boston community. Brock was also a clubhouse favorite, as it seemed there wasn’t even one player that he didn’t get along with. From being a new face in 2013 to a 2018 World Champion, he hadn’t let his success get to his head.

Iconic Moments

As Holt’s success began during the Sox down years, he finally got a chance to shine on the bigger stage with the Sox championship run in 2018. While the Sox lineup was stacked with talent, Brock still got a lot of at-bats and he made them count. Plenty of moments come to mind, but everyone knows which one is #1. Holt’s cycle against the Yankees in the ALDS made history as he completed the first cycle in playoff history. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for the Sox as that dominant Game 3 win propelled them to a series victory. His cycle, along with his clutch hits in the World Series, will be Red Sox moments that fans today won’t forget.

The situation of why Boston didn’t make an effort to bring Brock back will remain questioned. However, it will not take away from Holt’s time in a Sox uniform.

Thank you Brock, and good luck in Milwaukee.

The Story of Joe Cronin, a Red Sox Legend

Joseph Edward Cronin is, without a shadow of a doubt in my mind, the most underappreciated figure in Red Sox history. The story of Joe Cronin is about a Hall of Fame caliber shortstop, a manager who led his team to a pennant, a general manager, and an American League President.

The Red Sox fan base of today hardly remembers Joe Cronin.story of joe cronin When young fans look at the list of retired numbers at Fenway Park’s right field upper-deck, they often ask, “Who is number 4?” It is an absolute shame, to me, that not only do people not talk about the legacy of Joe Cronin enough, many don’t even know who he is.

Cronin’s Early Life

The story of Joe Cronin began on October 12, 1906 in San Francisco, California. Cronin spent much of his early years in poverty, as the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake destroyed much of what his family owned. Cronin attended Sacred Heart High School where he won many athletic awards for his talents in baseball. After spending a year in the minors with the Chattanooga Lookouts, Cronin made his Major League debut in 1926 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Major League Career

Cronin spent 20 years in the big leagues. He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Washington Senators, and the Boston Red Sox. Cronin’s first impressive year came in 1930 with the Senators when he hit .346 with 13 home runs. His best season came in 1933, when he was actually a player-manager for the Senators. That year he had 45 doubles, hit .309, and finished in second place for American League Most Valuable Player. His Red Sox playing career started in 1935, and continued until 1945 when he retired. In that time, Cronin was a five time all-star, hit over 15 home runs five times, and hit over .300 six times. He retired in at the age of 38, due to a broken leg he suffered while playing.

Career as a Manager, General Manager, and AL President

The story of Joe Cronin doesn’t end after his playing career. The year after Cronin hung up the cleats, the Red Sox hired him as a manager for the 1946 season. That year, Cronin led the Red Sox to their first World Series appearance since 1918. Despite falling short to the St. Louis Cardinals, Cronin was praised for the job he did that year.

Following the 1947 season, Cronin became the general manager for the Red Sox. Cronin held that title up until the end of the 1958 season. Cronin’s acquisitions of pitchers Ellis Kinder and Jack Kramer, as well as shortstop Vern Stephens, helped the Red Sox challenge for the American League pennant in 1948 and 1949. In the 1950’s, Cronin had to rebuild the Red Sox core, as many of the teams stars were aging. He had some success, as the Red Sox only fell below .500 twice in his remaining years as general manager. Cronin accomplished this despite having somewhat of a weak team that was only led by a then aging Ted Williams.

Cronin became the first former player in history elected as president of the American League. He was well received as president, and held that position until 1973.

Hall of Fame Induction and Later Life

In 1956, the National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Joe Cronin. Cronin fittingly chose to be portrayed wearing a Red Sox hat on his Hall of Fame plaque. In 1984, the Red Sox finally retired Cronin’s number four. Later that year, Cronin passed away due to a long fought battle with cancer.

Joe Cronin is the greatest shortstop in Red Sox history. He always wore his heart on his sleeve, while he was playing as well as while he was coaching. The story of Joe Cronin, however, is not remembered in today’s era of Boston sports.

Astros Cheating Scandal Exposes Conflicting American Values

It’s been weeks since news of the Houston Astros cheating scandal broke in the news. Since then, few people in baseball have hesitated to express their outrage over what the Astros did. If anything, it seems to be intensifying, with few coming out of it any wiser. In fact, it’s bringing the worst out in people.

According to a Yahoo Sports article, Astros’ outfielder Josh Reddick, a member of theastros cheating scandal 2017 World Series championship team at the center of the sign-stealing controversy, recently received messages from angry baseball fans telling him, “I will kill your family…I will kill your kids.” The same article quotes Reddick as saying, “And it’s really depressing to read because it’s over a game of baseball.”

Reddick is right, but only to a certain degree.

Yes, it is over a game of baseball. American baseball fans are threatening to kill a player’s family all because he was on a team that went to great lengths to steal signs from opposing teams. But baseball’s involvement ends there. Telling someone that they want to kill their kids not only shows a truly revolting side of someone’s personality, but that they think their opinions, no matter how threatening, are justified. Ironically, while this psycho thinks he’s lashing out at the Astros for cheating, it’s the cheating that enables such unstable behavior in the first place.

Threats Against Reddick Expose a Larger American Problem.

If you ask Americans today if we’re a country that embraces hard work, honesty, and integrity, you’ll probably get more people saying no rather than yes. It’s an attitude that’s exemplified in every day life. When people don’t get their way they threaten to sue. They make up a false story about their employer rather than accept responsibility. When a fan’s team doesn’t win, they look for any excuse they can find to criticize the victor. This idea includes threatening a player’s family. They think their anger equates to the offense, and therefore justifies their response. Fans make threats. Cheaters feel emboldened by the lack of accountability. Those who are disgusted with both lose respect for the game and everyone associated with it. Is this a true reflection of the MLB though?

Players Criticizing the Astros Cheating Scandal Aren’t Exactly Innocent.

There’s no shortage of current players criticizing the Astros. But according to a bleacherreport.com article, former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Logan Morrison stated, “I know from first hand accounts that the Yankees, Dodgers, Astros, and Red Sox all have used film to pick signs.” So why have the Astros become the whipping boy for Major League Baseball if other teams are involved too?

Are these players angry that their efforts to play an honest game were disrespected? Or are they angry that they were outsmarted? It’s understandable that teams like the Yankees would be angry over what the Astros did in 2017. Why didn’t it stop then though? Did teams like the Yankees actually steal signs using the same kind of technology too? If so, would the villain/victim roles be reversed if the Yankees had won and the Astros hadn’t? Would those same Yankee fans call out their own team for cheating? Most definitely not.

It seems like other teams and their fan base aren’t angry about sign stealing. They’re angry that their own tactics didn’t net them a World Series victory. Instead of self-reflecting and saying “Our approach didn’t work that well,” they look to accuse other teams of cheating. It reflects this “I’m the best, and if someone beats me they must have done it by cheating.” I’m not trying to excuse the Astros. If anything, I wonder why they, and other teams, are getting away with it.

Is Everyone Guilty? No.

Players who claim they shouldn’t be held accountable because “other teams do it too,” are in effect committing the additional offense of being complicit and abetting in the acts of other team’s offenses by turning a blind eye and not calling them out. In other words, if everyone is committing an offense like sign stealing, they are all at fault. By joining in, they become guilty too. Furthermore, they encourage horrible people to threaten people like Josh Reddick. When psychos like those who make such threats see teams like the Astros get away with cheating, they think they have a right to fly off the rails themselves. That’s the ripple effect that scandals like this can have on American society. The Astros may not be directly responsible for the unfair things that happen in American society. They are, however, responsible for how people perceive their actions.

Honest Players and Fans Are the Victims Here.

Of course, I’m not saying that all MLB players were in on this Astros cheating scandal or knew about it. As I’ve insinuated, it’s tremendously unfair to those who didn’t know about the cheating. Players like L.A. Angels’ Mike Trout, who commands great respect in baseball, said as much. “It’s sad for baseball,” Trout was quoted as saying in a Yahoo Sports article. “It’s tough. They cheated.”

The Astros cheating scandal hurt players like Trout badly. Trout represent those in American society who put in an honest day’s work and have true grievances, but no one takes them seriously because of those who’ve exploited the system; they become indistinguishable. It’s players like Mike Trout that Major League Baseball should promote and make more visible to baseball fans. Right now, people are looking at baseball and thinking that cheating is acceptable in baseball because no one’s really doing anything about it (Commissioner Rob Manfred seems to be working harder to avoid the issue than I’m working to avoid the gym). Mike Trout would do what Babe Ruth did for baseball following the Black Sox scandal of 1919–restore its integrity. Players like Trout are the ones who baseball needs to see more of to show that not everyone in the sport is corruptible.

Despite the Astros Cheating Scandal, Integrity Is Still Salvageable.

I’m a teacher by day, so this issue of cheating is something with which I’m familiar. So I’ll tell Major League Baseball the same thing I tell my students when it comes to cheating. Don’t cheat and you’ll have less to worry about in the long run. You cheat, and you’re guilty. Of course, there’s always the argument that it makes no difference if no one cares and lets it happen. Our current system of government certainly seems to be exemplifying that idea. That doesn’t mean those who strive for honesty should give up though. If anything, it’s a chance for them to step up and become an example of integrity.

Corrupt people hold onto power, but not forever. When they fall, society looks to someone who never gave in to that corruption. It’s in that instance that those who resisted corruption not only find validation, but are called upon to lead.

Sox add veteran experience with Lucroy signing

On Wednesday, Boston added some veteran experience behind the plate by signing catcher Jonathan Lucroy to a minor league deal for the 2020 season. Lucroy, a former all-star who has been on the decline, found himself without a squad as spring training began. Jonathan started 2019 with the LA Angels, before eventually being released after 75 games into the season and was quickly picked up by the Chicago Cubs for a brief stint to end the year. Sox manager Ron Roenicke is familiar with Lucroy’s play, as he coached him in Milwaukee for the first half of his career.

Although Lucroy was a solid name on the market, many were confused about why thelucroy signing club was adding another catcher to the organization. But with still plenty of time left remaining in spring training, this move might have a positive outcome for the Red Sox.

Added Experience

After 10 years in MLB, Lucroy has a lot of reps under his belt. His knowledge from his time in the league won’t just be helpful to catchers Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki, who have a combined 10 years of experience, but also the younger players on the Sox. With more holes in the 2020 roster than years past, Boston will have a lot of new faces in the lineup and a veteran presence could help these new or younger players in the clubhouse.

Consistency behind the plate

Besides his decrease in numbers at the plate, Lucroy has always been one of the better catchers defensively. He has already been seen down in Fort Myers catching a session for Chris Sale. Sale previously preferred Sandy Leon behind the dish over the rest of the Sox catchers. With Sandy Leon now out of town, maybe Lucroy can step in for the role as pitcher’s best friend.

Reviving the bat?

Christian Vazquez, who broke out in 2019 with a .279 BA and a career-high 23 HRs, has the starting position locked up. Due to this, there is no huge risk in the Lucroy signing as they aren’t looking for him to be the #1 guy. While Lucroy might be no competition to Vazquez, he has a huge opportunity to get a roster spot over Kevin Plawecki. Jonathan’s problem isn’t his defense but his struggling offense, as he has gone from hitting .280-.300 a year to .220-.240. He has shown his offensive potential in the past, as he could use his time on the Sox to get back to his former self.

After an offseason of losing key pieces, the Red Sox will look to mold the future of this organization and it may take some veterans to help the process. It should be interesting to see if Lucroy will make the opening day roster.

Red Sox sign Outfielder Kevin Pillar

The Boston Red Sox recently signed outfielder Kevin Pillar to a one-year, $4.25 million deal. This Pillar signing comes following the loss of Red Sox superstar, Mookie Betts, in a blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While this acquisition definitely helps lessen the damage resulting from the Dodgers trade, it does cause a problem in the outfield.Kevin Pillar
In the Betts trade, the Red Sox acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo, who had a very impressive rookie campaign with the Dodgers. This deal now leaves the Red Sox with five outfielders. (Martinez, Benintendi, Bradley, Pillar, Verdugo) Assuming Martinez is the designated hitter, where does that leave everyone else?

Managing Playing Time

Last season, Kevin Pillar had arguably his best offensive year, hitting .259 with 21 home runs. Where Pillar really shines, however, is defensively. He has been a finalist for Gold Glove in center field every year he has played in the majors. His defensive ability is arguably at the same caliber of Jackie Bradley Jr. For that reason, the Red Sox can balance playing time in center between the two. Pillar can start on days a left-handed pitcher is starting against them, and Bradley can start against right-handed pitchers. This same scenario could work with Verdugo instead of Bradley, as long a Pillar is comfortable in Fenway’s right field. Pillar is also a step above Bradley offensively, which makes him a good option to use as a pinch-hitter. However, I believe that, while this option is a good one, making a trade to free-up room for Pillar to play full time is a better option.

Trading Bradley now that we have Kevin Pillar

Trade rumors involving Jackie Bradley Jr. have been circulating this off-season. I believe that now, more than ever, Jackie Bradley Jr. should be traded. Bradley is still young, has loads of talent, and would be a good piece for any team that is looking to make a playoff push this season and needs help defensively. This move would create room for Pillar, who I believe is slightly better all-around than Bradley to become a full-time player. Verdugo would also become a full-time player, which is crucial for him in this stage of his career, as he is likely yet to reach his full potential in the big leagues. Not only that, but the Sox can finally try to get some decent pitching in return for Bradley. After getting nothing in terms of pitching in the Betts deal, it is crucial that the Sox pick-up at least one or two decent arms to strengthen our subpar pitching staff.

The signing of Kevin Pillar is something that Red Sox fans should be happy about during these dark days without Mookie Betts. However, if the organization doesn’t manage the outfield situation correctly, the team will not improve as much as it should.