Holt and Kelly Reignite Rivalry Between Sox and Yankees

There hasn’t been much of a rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees since the Sox won the 2004 World Series. In fact, the two teams seemed almost amicable in recent years. That all changed Wednesday night though when Red Sox and Yankees brawled it out during the second of a three game series. It started with Brock Holt contesting a slide, and ended with Joe Kelly punching Tyler Austin. Seeing Holt and Kelly reignite the rivalry not only makes the game more exciting, but will intensify the Red Sox quest for another World Series Championship.

It all began Wednesday night when the Yankees’ Tyler Austin slid into second base andKelly reignites clipped Holt’s leg with his spikes. Holt and Austin exchanged words and the benches cleared but no one threw punches. That is, until the top of the 7th inning. Reliever Joe Kelly faced Austin and proceeded to throw inside pitches before finally clunking Austin in the ribs. Austin retaliated by charging the mound where he and Kelly exchanged blows. Once again, both teams cleared their benches. As a result, Kelly received a six-game suspension and Austin received a five-game penalty. Red Sox manager Alex Cora and Yankee third base coach Phil Nevin were fined for their part in the brawl.

Holt and Kelly Reignite a Century-Old Feud

The Boston Red Sox took two out of the three game series, making them 10-2 as of April 13th. The two losses pushed the Yankees back to 6-7 and third place in the AL East. But while it’s too early to tell whether the two teams will be playoff contenders come the fall, one thing is certain: Baseball’s biggest rivalry is back.

“They have a pretty good team over there,” Holt said of the Yankees in a masslive.com article. “It happened. Typical Red Sox-Yankee game. About four hours long and a couple bench-clearing brawls. So we’re right on track here.”

Red Sox nation couldn’t be happier.

Who Will Be the Red Sox Rivals This Year?

Everyone in Red Sox Nation took a collective sigh when the New York Yankees signed Giancarlo Stanton. As much as Sox fans hate to admit it, the Yankees are now an offensive threat to all other American League teams. Along with Stanton, the Yankees also have 2017 Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge, as well as Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and Brett Gardner, all 20+ season HR winners. But is it time for another team to replace the Yankees? If the Red Sox rivals aren’t the Yankees anymore, then who?

The Baltimore Orioles Could Be The New Red Sox Rivals

The Red Sox rival this season could be the Baltimore Orioles. Bad blood erupted betweenred sox rivalry the two teams last season when the O’s Manny Machado slid into Dustin Pedroia in a mid-April game. While it didn’t look intentional, it sparked a string of near-brawls. The following day Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes almost hit Manny Machado in the head. A few weeks later, the Baltimore Orioles travelled to Fenway Park where outfielder Adam Jones became the target of bigots who allegedly shouted racial epithets at him. While Red Sox Nation showed respect by giving him a standing ovation at his first at-bat the following game, it did little to quell the intensity.

It Could Also Be The Rays

The Boston Red Sox fell to the Rays in their first game of the season 6-4 despite a masterful pitching performance by Chris Sale. Many in Red Sox Nation, including me, have often taken the Tampa Bay Rays for granted given that they haven’t been real playoff contenders for a while. The Red Sox pulled off a win in their home opener on April 5th, but it was a 13-inning nail biter that probably shouldn’t have lasted as long as it did. Think about it for a minute. Every time the Rays come to Boston, or the team goes to Tampa Bay, it ends up being a tougher series to win than anyone initially thought. So the Rays could potentially be the Red Sox rivals in secret. (This rivalry isn’t likely anymore though after Xander Bogaerts’ grand slam in during the second inning of the April 7th game at Fenway Park).

Regardless, the 2018 season is shaping up to be one of the best for the Red Sox. They’re on a hot streak, and this could potentially be a World Series year for them.

Alex Cora Needs Red Sox Nation’s Support

Many in Red Sox Nation were quick to slam Alex Cora when the team fell to the Tampa Bay Rays in their first game of the season. Cora pulled Chris Sale after six innings after giving up only one hit and striking out nine. This move led many to wonder why Cora didn’t let Sale continue his dominance. The criticism intensified after Joe Kelly and Carson Smith blew the Red Sox’s lead. It’s convenient to blame him for pulling Sale. However, Alex Cora needs patience and support from Red Sox Nation.

There’s a lot of pressure on Cora and the Red Sox this season. The team won back-to-alex cora needsback American League Eastern Division titles in 2016 and 2017, but fell in the first round. The front office finally lost patience with John Farrell who, despite bringing a World Series Championship to Boston in 2013, had become more of a detriment than an asset in recent seasons. His termination came as welcomed news, but that also meant his replacement would face tremendous scrutiny early into the 2018 season.

I’m not excusing Cora’s decision making in the team’s first game of the season. Many fans were left baffled by Cora’s decision to pull Sale after six innings. Sale wasn’t in trouble. The team had a 4-0 lead. It was entirely possible Sale could have thrown a one-hit shutout to start off the season. That’s not how it panned out though. Boston lost 6-4, and Red Sox Nation started criticizing Cora before the team had the chance to walk off the field.

Alex Cora Needs Support, But He Has a Lot to Learn

This season is Cora’s first as a manager. He’s going to need the first several weeks of the season to figure out what works and what doesn’t. It’s hard to blame him if he was thinking that he didn’t want to overextend Chris Sale so early in the season. In that case, pulling him after six innings makes sense. It’s hard to blame him for bringing Joe Kelly in too. In fact, Kelly took responsibility for his poor outing. “It was pretty pathetic what I did out there,” Kelly said in a Boston.com article.

Cora has a lot to learn about being a manager, especially in Boston where fans aren’t as forgiving as they are in other cities. But Cora isn’t John Farrell. It’s not fair to hold him to the standard Red Sox Nation held Farrell to last season. That doesn’t mean that Cora will get a pass in his first season though. Nor should he. While Cora might have a steep learning curve ahead of him, at the end of the day he’s still the manager. He’s going to have to learn to pick his battles, and figure out how key moves might play out before he tries them. So while Alex Cora needs Red Sox Nation’s support and patience, Alex Cora also needs to realize that patience and support doesn’t last as long in Boston as he did in Houston.

Let’s hope for the best for Alex Cora this season. But let’s also let him know that our patience and support isn’t infinite.

Will the Real Ty Cobb Please Stand Up?

Many baseball fans don’t know who the real Ty Cobb was. They’re familiar with the stats he posted season after season and how they reflected the intensity with which he played. 4,189 hits, 897 stolen bases, and a lifetime batting average of .366 are only a few of the numbers Cobb posted during his career. Unfortunately, Cobb’s reputation has suffered from outright lies. Al Stump, who ghostwrote an autobiography with Cobb, later wrote a deeply flawed biography about The Georgia Peach. Initially a New York Times Notable book, Stump’s biography fabricated much of the book’s stories to increase sales. Many of those stories, regrettably, remain true in the mind of many baseball fans.

Fortunately for Cobb’s memory, Charles Leerhsen’s 2015 biography Ty Cobb: A Terriblereal ty cobb Beauty discredits most of the false stories about Cobb while stressing other facts about the Hall of Famer that include his endorsement of integration, the $15.8 million in college scholarships to Georgians that came from his estate after his death, and his deep and sincere appreciation for his fans. Leerhsen’s book debunks most of the slanderous stories about Cobb with amazing detail. But despite Leerhsen’s fresh take on Cobb, many still have their doubts about who the real Ty Cobb was.

Last year I wrote an article arguing that Ken Burns Owes Ty Cobb’s Family a Redo. Leerhsen’s biography, which won the 2016 Casey Award, persuaded me to challenge the purported stories about Cobb in Burns’ documentary. Despite his best intentions, I argued that Ken Burns should revise his take on Cobb. There were, however, a few issues with my article. I made the assumption that Burns and his research staff relied heavily on Stump’s biography of Cobb. That was inaccurate. I also assumed that most of the inaccuracies in Burns’ documentary were primarily in the Third Inning episode. The Sixth Inning episode also made questionable claims about Cobb. Many of the stories baseball fans have heard about Ty Cobb are not true, including the story that Cobb once assaulted a black man who tried to shake his hand.

The Real Ty Cobb Could Be Brutal, But He Wasn’t Alone

Although Cobb wasn’t the man Stump’s portrayed, he was violent at times. During a game against the New York Highlanders in 1912, Cobb assaulted a fan named Claude Lucker, a disabled man who had lost all but two fingers in a printing press accident. Lucker allegedly called Cobb a “half-nigger” and insulted his mother. In his rookie year, Cobb’s mother accidentally shot and killed his father after she mistook him for a prowler. The shock of his father’s death stayed with Cobb for the rest of his life. After enough heckling, Cobb charged into the stands where he violently assaulted Lucker. It’s easy to criticize anyone who beats up a man with no hands. It’s also easy to understand why Cobb assaulted Lucker for what he said. Many historians and critics alike, however, see this incident as the sum of Cobb’s character. Opposing viewpoints centered around this incident make it difficult to know who the real Ty Cobb was. Some see it as an attack by a lunatic on a defenseless man. Others see it as a man defending his honor.

In response to the beating, American League President Ban Johnson suspended Cobb. Cobb’s disregard for Lucker’s disability is the primary source many of his critics have wielded in their contempt for him. But Cobb’s defenders point out that Lucker was also a well-known heckler among Highlander fans who targeted Cobb. Did Lucker assume Cobb wouldn’t retaliate because of his disability? While nothing can excuse hitting a man who has physical disabilities, the words with which he accosted Cobb would likely have made anyone retaliate violently. Additionally, many of Cobb’s critics omit the fact that other Hall of Fame players, including Babe Ruth and Cy Young, also assaulted fans at one time or another.

Many Still Find The Real Ty Cobb Objectionable

“I’m convinced that an attempt to whitewash Cobb’s playing years by ascribing charitable works to him in his retirement years doesn’t quite do it,” John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s official historian told me in a January 2018 phone interview. “Ballplayers who were on his team with him, his opponents, they said he didn’t have a friend in baseball.” Thorn, who said he hasn’t read Leerhsen’s biography, made it clear “not to presume that I have a horse in this race.” Thorn’s opinions on Cobb are based on the primary sources, specifically the baseball classic The Glory Of Their Times by Lawrence Ritter. Ritter’s book is a collection of vignettes told by veteran players like Harry Hooper and Sam Crawford and is regarded as one of the finest books ever written about the game.

Former public editor of the New York Times and baseball writer Daniel Okrent is one whose views of Cobb have changed after reading Leerhsen’s book. “Leerhsen…rattled the support for the arguments that Cobb was the truly horrible person that many people, including me, have assumed for many, many years,” Okrent told me in a January 2018 phone interview. “His research was phenomenal, and his revelation of Al Stump’s unreliability was wonderful. Particularly, the number of stories about Cobb’s behavior … A lot of people believe what they believe about Cobb because Stump’s portrayal makes it seem so possible. Leerhsen really demolishes Stump, in that book.”

Cobb Remains Complex

“I think there’s a difference between the version of Cobb that we have created, over the years, and the version that should exist,” Okrent added. This dichotomy makes it difficult to know who the real Ty Cobb was. Cobb’s behavior during his playing days will always be a source of debate. But baseball fans and scholars alike should examine multiple sources on Cobb, especially Leerhsen’s book, if they want a strong idea of his overall character.

Other scholars like Thorn remain unmoved.

“My position on Cobb is largely unchanged. I do not think that Ken Burns or anyone else who’s ever written about Cobb…has anything to retrench.”

People who share Thorn’s views will likely continue to see Cobb as an unstable individual. For others, while Cobb’s endorsement of integration signals the idea that he did not share the same views on race as many of his contemporaries did, they might argue that “a zebra doesn’t change its stripes,” and still may have harbored prejudiced views regardless of his comments. But that’s only true if Cobb was as bigoted as Stump claimed.

While I’d like to see Burns revise his episodes about Cobb based on Leerhsen’s scholarship, it’ll likely never happen. Burns’ Baseball is still an amazing series that I could never grow tired of watching. In fact, it’s the primary reason why I became a baseball fan. But Burns’ documentary isn’t a reliable source about Cobb. Baseball fans have the right to hold any opinion they want about any particular player. But if they balance Burns’ documentary with Leerhsen’s sound scholarship, as well as other biographies written by scholars like Charles Alexander, they’ll be in a better position to construct a solid and composed opinion of Cobb.

Cobb Will Remain A Highly Debatable Subject

In my opinion it’s wrong to assume Cobb wasn’t a good person. In a time when many were denouncing integration, Cobb was praising black ballplayers like Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. He left millions of dollars to charity in his will. He answered all his fan mail. Do these good deeds vanquish any of Cobb’s wrongdoings? Of course not. No one is perfect. But if we can’t recognize the good in people, especially when much of what’s been written about them is later discredited, we’re sending a message to the youth of America that we should only judge people by their transgressions and disregard the good they contributed to society.

Okrent is right in saying there’s a difference between the Cobb we have created and the version that should exist. But Thorn’s opinions carry just as much weight. Recognizing the good deeds that anyone performs later in life does not excuse any questionable acts they committed.

The Real Ty Cobb Was A Good Man

The real Ty Cobb wasn’t a saint, but he wasn’t a monster either. Thanks to Leerhsen’s biography, baseball fans can now see Cobb in a more honest light. Cobb was a legendary baseball player who played with ferocity. With that fierceness, however, also lay a genuine effort to be a good man.

Boston Red Sox Finally Sign JD Martinez

The Boston Red Sox finally closed a deal to sign JD Martinez. After weeks of speculation and negotiation, Martinez signed a $110 million 5-year deal starting in 2018. The question now is what position will Martinez take and what will his role be with the Red Sox?

Martinez previously played for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers primarily as asign JD martinez designated hitter. Many are assuming Martinez will take the DH role for the 2018 season, which will free up Hanley Ramirez. The Red Sox suffered from a string of injuries from last season while John Farrell’s lackluster performance as manager didn’t strike confidence in the team either. Red Sox Nation is hoping Martinez’s bat will add much needed runs to the scoreboard.

Martinez hit .303 season average with 45 home runs and 104 RBIs last season, numbers that the Sox sorely need. While batters like Andrew Benintendi did well at the plate, others like Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez struggled. Steven Wright and David Price didn’t get much time on the mound either because of injuries. This combination of injuries and setbacks limited the Red Sox chances of making it to the World Series last season. But with Farrell gone, and Wright and Price healthier now, Martinez’s added bat will certainly increase their chances of winning another AL East title.

The Red Sox Sign JD Martinez, But Will It Be Worth The Price?

The Red Sox are dropping some serious money on Martinez. This amount is making some questions whether Martinez is a good investment, especially after David Price’s underwhelming performance over the last two seasons. The Red Sox signed Price two years ago for $217 million over seven years but his performance on and off the mound though has been less than stellar. While on the DL, Price made unprofessional comments about Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley after Eckersley criticized her performance during a game. But Price recently commented that “I could’ve handled it better last year, absolutely. But I didn’t, and I’ve moved on.”