Price-Eckersley Confrontation Comes To The Light

The end of June seemed like ages ago for the Boston Red Sox. They had just come off a sweep and a demolition of the Toronto Blue Jays. It was the confrontation between David Price and Dennis Eckersley that set the Red Sox on a downward spiral they have yet to break free from. Details are coming out from the Price-Eckersley confrontation, and they’re scary.

The friction arose from Eckersley commenting on one of Eduardo Rodriguez’s rehab Price-Eckersley confrontation starts. On the NESN broadcast, the stat line was flashed of Rodriguez’s putrid start in Pawtucket, to which Eckersley said “yuck.” One word. A bit out of the ordinary but not harsh considering the stats. David Price, like he often does, took offense.

In a heroic, righteous act of sticking up for his teammate, Price took matters into his own hands. As Eckersley was boarding the team plane, he saw that Price was waiting for him. What ensued was something out of a John Hughes film. Price (hardened jock in his letterman jacket and backwards cap) went right for Eckersley (nerd type who’s really into computers and is just doing what he’s told). That’s how it goes, right? Not exactly.

Instead of a nerd, Eckersley is the retired jock. In fact, he was one of the best jocks, ten times better than Price. Price goes on to mock Eckersley, sarcastically calling him “the greatest pitcher who ever lived” and saying “the game is easy for him.” When Eckersley tried to get on to his seat, Price told him to “get the f*** out of here.”

It Was Not Easy For Eckersley

I don’t even know where to start with this. Just when you thought Price couldn’t act like more of a child, he pulls this. First, I suppose I’ll start with the “easy” part. Was the game easy for Dennis Eckersley? About as easy as learning an entire Cicero oration in a day. Let’s dive in on how “easy” Eck’s career was, shall we?

Does anyone remember why he was traded to the Red Sox in the first place? It was because his wife cheated on him with one of his teammates. Anyone remember why he hardly ever does road trips? Well, he’s a recovering alcoholic who tries to avoid the temptations of the road. He has dealt with it for decades. Alcoholism is supposedly also the reason why his brother got a 40 year prison sentence for attempted murder and kidnapping. Now on his third wife, Eck has a lot of time in retirement to reflect on his “easy” career.

That’s not even the end of it. When Price made these remarks, some of his teammates began to applaud. That is the scariest part. If David Price is the clubhouse leader of this team, they are going NOWHERE. He is a child. Not a leader. He is not David Ortiz. If he is the voice of the clubhouse, the Red Sox are going in a very bad direction. Not only is Eckersley faultless here, he’s also Dennis freaking Eckersley. Furthermore, he’s not some putz like Dan Shaughnessy or Pete Abraham or even me. He played the game. As a matter of fact, he dominated it. This is the wrong guy to go after.

Red Sox Aren’t Handling The Price-Eckersley Confrontation Right

After all this, Eckersley has reportedly not received an apology from Price or the Red Sox on the matter. I’ll tell you what, this organization is painting a bad picture for itself this month. With the lackluster play on the field, no apology for Eckersley and trashing WEEI and accusing their fan base of blanket racism, it hasn’t been a charming few weeks. I am beginning to wonder just what is going on with our baseball team. This can’t stem all from David Ortiz’s retirement, right? Right?

This should be alarming for you, Red Sox fans. Price has had a good year on the mound (save Saturday’s disaster in Anaheim), but his off-the-field antics are crossing the line. If you defend this guy’s attitude, you are the poster child of the new era Boston pink hats. Not that he has said anything, but I’m also pretty sure Eduardo Rodriguez can take this criticism. So how about these guys focus less on the NESN broadcast and a little more on winning baseball games. Let’s see if that works.

Rafael Devers Promoted to Red Sox

It has certainly been an odd, unsuccessful and grossly disappointing week plus for the Red Sox since the All-Star break. Now, Dave Dombrowski is getting bold, but not in the trade market. With top prospect Rafael Devers promoted to the big club, the Red Sox are looking for a spark plug.

On the field, Boston has yet to win a series since the Fourth of July. Off it, they lost out on Rafael Devers calleda deal that looked like it was already done. Sure, missing out on Todd Frazier is not monumental, but the organization is surely disappointed. They felt they could get a guy to plug in some of their holes at a very low price. That is no longer the case, so it is time to embrace what they already have.

Devers will be with the team Monday in Seattle and is already expected to make his first start Tuesday. This is a kid who, just last month, was playing in Portland. After a cup of coffee in Pawtucket, here he comes Red Sox fans. Much like Andrew Benintendi last year, he joins the team in Seattle to fill an immediate need. Benintendi skipped AAA and Devers might as well have, but can we expect similar results?

Devers didn’t become the top prospect in the Red Sox system by accident. This season in Portland, he mashed 18 homers and 56 RBI while hitting .300. In all, he racked up 40 extra base hits in 77 games before being promoted to AAA. In nine games with Pawtucket, he hit .324, including a night where he went 4-4 with a homer. Devers’ glove is still raw, but his offense has shown he is ready for the major leagues.

Rafael Devers Promoted With Big Expectations

Third base has been a glaring problem for the Red Sox all year. Starting with the dumpster fire that was Pablo Sandoval, the Red Sox have been reeling at that position. With the rest of the lineup being just horrendous on a good day, that spot becomes even more important. Without the league’s best offense, third base turns from a want to a need. Now, if the Red Sox can’t upgrade there, a deep playoff run can be compromised.

While third base is a major issue right now, it doesn’t look like Dombrowski will try to solve it at the trade deadline. If he can add a bullpen arm, Boston should be in really good shape. Their offense won’t be number one, but it sure can’t get much worse. With their starting pitching, this is a team built for the postseason. If they can bolster their bullpen, they could be a tremblingly dangerous team come October.

So, the kid is gonna get a shot, whether he likes it or not. And yes, he will be expected to produce. He’s not going to make this team Murderer’s Row, but he should make them better. Since Devers didn’t even play AA till this year, this could be a lot of pressure. The 20 year-old will be thrusted in like Xander Bogaerts was in 2013. We all remember how Bogaerts thrived and what the Red Sox did that year, don’t we? So stay up late Tuesday night, you just might see the birth of a new era and a new Red Sox team.

Portland Beats Hartford, Slugs Five Home Runs

Portland, Maine – The Sea Dogs (44-50) were propelled by a season-high five home runs, as Portland beats Hartford (44-51) 12-6 in the series opener on Thursday night at Hadlock Field. 

portland beats hartford
The win ended the Sea Dogs’ five-game losing streak and also ended the Yard Goats’ six-game win streak.
 
Hartford got off two a hot start on a solo homer by Max White on the second pitch of the game by Elih Villanueva. Two batters later Drew Weeks homered to make it 2-0 ‘Goats.
 
Portland quickly responded in the bottom of the first on a two-run home run by Chad De La Guerra off of Parker French.
 
Jordan Procyshen hit an opposite-field three-run homer in the second to extend the ‘Dogs lead to 5-2, then Portland brought all nine to the plate in a six-run third.  Mike Olt hit a three-run homer, Procyshen pulled a RBI double down the right field line, then Danny Mars hit a two-run blast to make it 11-2.
 
Parker French (7-8) went 2.2 innings and allowed 11 runs on nine hits.  In two starts against Portland this year, French has allowed eight home runs.
 
Hartford started to climb back, adding a run in the fourth and three more on a home run by Stephen Cardullo in the fifth to cut the deficit to 11-6.
 
Villanueva (4-3) allowed six runs on nine hits in five innings while walking one and striking out five in the victory.  Josh Smith (three innings) and Jake Cosart (one inning) combined to pitch the final four innings and did not allow a hit.
 
Jeremy Barfield hit a solo homer in the sixth off of Troy Nieman to make it a 12-6 ballgame.
 
All nine Sea Dogs had at least one hit.  Olt finished a triple shy of the cycle while De La Guerra, Barfield, and Procyshen each had two hits apiece.

The Road Ahead

 Portland and Hartford play a doubleheader Friday at Hadlock Field, first pitch in game one is scheduled for 5:00 PM.
Radio coverage on the U.S. Cellular Sea Dogs Radio Network begins at 4:45 PM. MiLB.TV starts at 4:55 PM.

Benintendi Needs To Learn To Hit Southpaws

Andrew Benintendi, the rookie sensation, is having an outstanding year. He’s on pace to collect 20 or more home runs this season. His defense is incredible. And Red Sox Nation loves him. But there’s one issue plaguing the young rookie. Benintendi needs to learn how to hit against southpaws.

Benintendi has received his fair share of playing time this year, but John Farrell is reluctantbenintendi needs to bat him again left-handed pitchers. He is hitting .235 against lefties and .281 against righties as of July 19th. That’s an almost 50 point difference that would concern any manager. But it’s something that Benintendi needs to learn how to do. The problem is he’s not getting many chances. He’s had 278 at-bats against righties versus 51 against lefties.

Benintendi Needs To Learn How To Become More Well-Rounded

While baseball looks to Aaron Judge as the potential Rookie of the Year, there’s reason to believe his numbers won’t last. Should-be Hall of Famer Pete Rose said on Foxsports.com that Judge won’t finish the season above .300. “You can’t hit .300 and strike out 200 times,” Rose said on July 18th. Judge is on pace to collect over 200 strikeouts for the season. Rose said it’s nearly impossible to hit above .300 with that many strikeouts.

In other words, Judge’s average is only going to go down. However, if Benintendi learns how to hit against left-handed pitchers, his can only go up. Both hitters have much to learn as rookies obviously, but we’re already seeing a dip in Judge’s numbers. That’s why Benintendi needs to learn how to hit both left-handed and right-handed pitchers. Not only would his stats improve, but he’d become an even more valuable player to the Red Sox.

I’ll end it with the argument that Benintendi could win the Rookie of the Year award if he can learn how to hit against southpaws. Most people are arguing that Judge will run away with the award. They’re probably right. But that doesn’t mean Judge shouldn’t worry about Benintendi.

PawSox Relievers Help Extend Streak to Eight Wins

PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Three days after the Red Sox played a 16-inning marathon at Fenway Park, the ripple effects extended to McCoy Stadium, where a wave of PawSox relievers combined on a five-hit shutout in a 6-0 win over the Toledo Mud Hens on Tuesday.

“I’ll tell you what, this bullpen what they did tonight [was great], because we had some moves, some guys go to the big leagues,” Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said.

PawSox Relievers

With Brian Johnson and Héctor Velázquez promoted to Boston earlier in the day, the PawSox bullpen stepped up to stifle the Mud Hens and power Pawtucket (50-44) to an eighth consecutive win and a 10th victory in the last 11 games. The PawSox notched their 14th shutout win of the season, the most in the International League.

On a bullpen day, PawSox reliever Chandler Shepherd made the spot start and tossed two shutout innings with a strikeout. Ty Buttrey (W, 1-1), who was sent to Double-A Portland over the weekend and returned to Pawtucket on Tuesday, fanned four in three scoreless stanzas of one-hit ball. Jamie Callahan punched out three in two strong frames of his own, and left-hander Robby Scott, who had spent all of the season with the Red Sox until his option Tuesday, got the next four outs before righty Noe Ramirez nabbed the final two.

PawSox right fielder Bryce Brentz (2-for-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI) lofted his 20th home run of the season, tied for second-most in the International League, and designated hitter Rafael Devers went 2-for-4 with a line drive single up the middle and a hard grounder through the right side. Left fielder Ryan Court (1-for-3, BB) extended his hitting streak to 16 games, tied for the longest by a Pawtucket player this season.

Rehabbing Tigers starter Daniel Norris (L) logged three innings and surrendered five runs (four earned) on three hits and a pair of walks to go along with four strikeouts.

Pawtucket placed the first two aboard to begin the bottom of the first and, with two outs, third baseman Matt Dominguez yanked a two-run double down the left-field line and then scored himself on a throwing error to make it 3-0.

In the third, Brentz skied a towering two-run homer to the right-center bleachers to stretch the lead to 5-0. Five innings later, he made it 6-0 when he drilled an RBI double off the wall in straightaway center.

The Road Ahead

The PawSox continue their series with the Toledo Mud Hens on Wednesday at 11:05 a.m. at McCoy Stadium. PawSox right-hander Kyle Kendrick (3-6, 6.84) is scheduled to oppose Mud Hens righty Drew VerHagen (6-7, 4.95). Radio coverage on WHJJ (920 AM) and throughout the PawSox Radio Network begins with the PawSox Pre-Game Show at 10:35 a.m.

The seven-game homestand runs through Sunday. Good seats are available, and fans can visit the McCoy Stadium box office, which is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., and during all home games. Fans can also call (401) 724-7300 or log on to PawSox.com for tickets.

MLB Needs To Embrace The Star System

MLB and baseball as a whole are going through an identity crisis at the moment. It is a sport taking a big hit right now. It’s not dead, but it’s on life support. Even with an enthralling 2016 postseason and home run numbers sky-rocketing, baseball needs a change. The solution isn’t changing the game, but rather grasping what they already have. Take a page out of Hollywood’s book, MLB, and embrace the star system.

Baseball purists have never had to promote their stars to get people to watch. The sports star systemworld has changed. I’m not a huge fan of the NBA, but you have to recognize how massive that league has become worldwide. They’ve got major fan bases in China and Spain and Brazil. Their league spans the continents. The MLB does not.

It really is that simple for the NBA. They just promote their stars more than their teams. A game of Oklahoma City vs. Houston is not billed as “Thunder vs. Rockets.” Instead, it’s “Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden.” That can really make all the difference. Within the NBA, there are legions of fans who support players, not teams. While that would probably never catch on in a city like Boston, it has made the popularity of the NBA soar. That kind of exposure of players creates an entire universe of heroes and villains, bringing infinitely more passion and hatred and a rooting interest for the league.

You don’t need me to tell you the MLB has nothing close to that. This past weekend should’ve been hyped up like a heavyweight fight, a 15-round title match between Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge. Saturday’s game was a match-up between two All-Star pitchers. One of them was Chris Sale, the best pitcher in the league. That game was on Fox Sports 1. FREAKING FOX SPORTS 1. Women’s Golf was deemed the better product to watch on Fox. Women’s golf over Red Sox-Yankees with Chris Sale on the mound.

There is really no reason why the MLB can’t be a better league than the NBA. Baseball has always been a worldly sport. Basketball has just started to be in that discussion the last decade. There are no super teams in the MLB. Aaron Judge just went 0 for the series against the Red Sox. He isn’t coming to Boston next year. David Price did not ask to go to Cleveland after they handed him his lunch in last year’s playoffs. My point is, this is not the NBA. If you take the positives from what they have done, you will far surpass the NBA.

The Star System Doesn’t Even Need Personality

The stars don’t even need personality, they just need to be promoted like stars. James Harden, Steph Curry, even Kevin Durant, these guys are dry. They’re boring. They aren’t polarizing. Yet, people would think they are because their names are EVERYWHERE. So don’t tell me Mookie Betts can’t be marketed because he isn’t as funny as David Ortiz. It’s on the league, not the players, to make this sport more popular.

So I’m calling out Major League Baseball. I don’t want more Yankees and Angels fans, I want more Aaron Judge and Mike Trout fans. I want people to know what number Kris Bryant is. Give me people who know what team Bryce Harper plays for. I don’t want a World Series of Astros vs. Dodgers. I want a World Series of Carlos Correa vs. Cody Bellinger. Give me a reason to watch the game. The sport is dying, unfortunately, but the players are still the same. Give the game to the players, not the purists.