Will Rodriguez Retirement Dampen Rivalry?

Well, the day has finally come. Alex Rodriguez, who for years has been the bane of the Red Sox Nation’s existence, is retiring. An Alex Rodriguez retirement means that Red Sox fans will no longer have a primary Yankee player to focus their taunts at. As the last link to steroid use, A-Rod will no longer remind baseball fans of a dark time in our National Pastime’s history. However, it also means that the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees won’t be as intense either.

Despite A-Rod’s flaws, its hard to deny his talent. Since his debut in 1994, Rodriguez has hit close to 700 homeRodriguez Retirement runs, is a member of the 3,000 hit club, and has collected over 2000 RBIs. Only a small handful of players have ever accumulated those numbers. In fact, if my research is accurate, Hank Aaron is the only other player that has stronger numbers. While Hank Aaron never used steroids, it’s hard to say that all of A-Rod’s success came from PEDs. After all, a batter still has to connect his bat to the ball in order hit a home run. Many fans don’t realize how difficult that is. Steroid use can’t give a player that edge.

So did Rodriguez use PEDs? There’s no doubt about it. But did he take his punishment and sit out the 2014 season? Yes, he did. While that might have satisfied Commissioner Bud Selig, it came nowhere close to satisfying the Red Sox Nation.

Any member of the Red Sox Nation will tell you that the most famous moment in A-Rod’s time at Fenway Park took place in 2004. Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek and Alex Rodriguez fought it out at home plate in the third inning of a July game that resulted in  one of the biggest bench-clearing brawls between the two teams since 1967. As a result, Rodriguez and Varitek received suspensions and large fines. It’s remembered as one of the more significant brawls at Fenway Park between the two teams. It’s also the brawl that made everyone in Red Sox Nation hate A-Rod. After this season,however, he’ll no longer be around for Sox fans to beat up on.

With a Rodriguez Retirement, Who Will Sox Fans Hate On Now?

This week’s series between the Red Sox and Yankees will be the last one that will include A-Rod. Never again will Red Sox Nation be able to chant, “A-Rod sucks!” Well maybe we will. After all, we love to chant “Free Tom Brady!” at most games and he’s not even a baseball player. With a Rodriguez retirement also comes the reality that the source of an intensified hatred towards the Yankees will no longer be taunted at Fenway Park. Does that mean the rivalry between the two teams will die down? Maybe a little. But it’s a 100 year old rivalry, so it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Will the Red Sox Nation miss A-Rod? Yes, but not for positive sentimental reasons. We’ll always think poorly of the guy, but we’ll also miss having someone to kick around when the Yankees are in town.

How Will Red Sox Fans Bid “A Rod” Adieu?

In a painfully awkward press conference today, Alex Rodriguez announced he will retire. Rodriguez’s last game will be Friday, making his last full series a 3-game set at Fenway Park this week. In this day in age, baseball legends have gotten elaborate send-offs in their final go-arounds. That being said, should A Rod get legend treatment for his legendary numbers?

Let’s be clear, Rodriguez does have Hall of Fame numbers, but what does an asterisk doA Rod to a fan’s perspective? Rodriguez not only admitted to taking PED’s during his 22-year career, but also staged an extensive cover-up for the scandal. That incident earned A Rod a suspension that lasted the entirety of the 2014 season. In other words, A Rod didn’t just cheat—he raised it to an art form! He took it to a Big Apple, Yankee-esk degree that left Red Sox fans more than pleased.

How Should Fans Receive A Rod?

As he says goodbye to the game and to Red Sox fans, he should not feel welcome at Fenway Park. What Alex Rodriguez has done to the game of baseball is inexcusable and he should not be honored for it. Fenway Park should be littered with jeers and curses when #13 in gray steps up to the plate. No more of these video tributes, no gifts, just pure backlash. Being a long-time professional, it may not affect A Rod that much. That does not matter. This can show that Red Sox fans have not softened and still take pride in themselves and the game.

The way I see it, there is really no excuse to give this schmuck any sort of applause. He cheated, he lied, and he dragged baseball through the mud. To be honest, it could not have happened to a worse guy. Rodrgiuez has always been known as a bad teammate and it has showed. For all intents and purposes, he was fired by the Yankees. According to Rodriguez, Hal Steinbrenner, Yankees chairman, “reached out” to him to retire now. It is obvious that he’s lost a step with 9 home runs and 29 RBI while batting just .204 in a mere 62 games this season.

In 2014, Derek Jeter played his last ever game at Fenway. Red Sox fans cheered him on and called on him for a curtain call and deservedly so. While a Yankee, Jeter was still a terrific ambassador for the game who did always conducted himself with class. If Rodriguez receives an ovation anywhere close to that, Red Sox fans should be ashamed of themselves.

David Ortiz Criticizes Crybaby Players

Anyone who saw the Red Sox play in the mid 1970s can tell you about the violent clashes between catcher Carlton Fisk and New York Yankees’ catcher Thurmond Munson. It seemed like anytime the Yankees came to Fenway the two all-star catchers would fight, but they weren’t the only ones. Throughout the next thirty years or so, Fenway would see its fair share of brawls, particularly in 2003 when Pedro Martinez defended himself when Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer charged at the Red Sox ace only to be thrown to the Ortiz Criticizes Crybaby Playersground. Brawls of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s were epic; a symbol of defending one’s honor. But in an interview with NESN, David Ortiz criticizes crybaby players who he says are too serious and don’t know how to have fun playing baseball. Ortiz’s word reflect how brawls today start not to defend one’s honor but because players can’t control their emotions.

“Quite frankly, I think baseball wants to be too serious about what we do. Whenever we have any reaction within the game, people want to make it about, ‘Oh, he’s a showboat,’ you know? People need to realize that this is a game. OK, we get paid a lot of money. But it’s a game. You have to have fun.”

Brawls today seem to start because players are too sensitive. Many don’t like when an opponent does something like fist pump or cheer when he hits a home run, or strikes out the order. Take for instance the Jose Bautista feud with the Texas Rangers last fall. After hitting a home run, Jose Bautista flipped his bat as he started his run around the bases, incensing the Rangers players who accused him of showboating. It eventually led to revenge when Rougned Odor landed a punch to his face after Bautista made a questionable slide towards Odor’s legs at second base earlier this season. While most people love a good brawl, the fight between Bautista and Odor didn’t start for the right reasons. It started because the Rangers couldn’t take seeing a player better than them hit a home run. In other words, players like Odor and the Rangers don’t like seeing any kind of showboating, which in my opinion equates to whining.

Is Ortiz Right Or Does This Reflect Society?

“There are a lot of crying babies in baseball,” Ortiz told NESN. “There’s all the complaining and bitching about things. When you strike me out and pump your fist, I don’t care. That motivates me to go out and hit a homer the next at-bat. I don’t really mind. But whenever you hit a homer, and you do what you do, everyone starts complaining. For me, the reality is, I don’t pay attention to any of that crap.”

Some might say that this trend reflects today’s society where every kid gets a trophy, and people can’t say speak their minds because others get offended too quickly. On a larger level, what this trend reflects, whether it’s in baseball or just in America, is that people don’t know how to control their emotions. Thankfully for the Red Sox, players like David Ortiz can control his bat as well as his temper (most of the time). So the next time David Ortiz criticizes crybaby players, I’m going to see what led him to voice his opinion instead of choosing to get offended.

Sox Should Trade Blake Swihart

After moving Clay Buchholz to the bullpen and demoting Joe Kelly to Pawtucket, the Red Sox desperately need starting pitching. Their starters have been battered to the tune of a 4.79 ERA and .748 OPS this year, which isn’t a recipe for a successful season. Boston’s won anyways because the offense has been crushing it, but when happens when the lineup slumps? The Red Sox don’t really have much minor league talent ready to make an impact in the rotation, so the quickest and most direct way to an upgrade is through the trade market. To accomplish this, the Sox should trade Blake Swihart.

Not too long ago, such a proposal would have seemed outrageousSox Should Trade Blake Swihart. Swihart is a prized prospect, an athletic 24-year-old catcher who can switch-hit and provide plus offense at a premium position. Teams love to build around guys like that. He seemed destined to become the next Jason Varitek or Carlton Fisk.

Now, his future in Boston is uncertain. The team has committed to Christian Vazquez, another talented young backstop, due to his superior game management and receiving skills. Swihart was demoted in April despite a strong start at the plate, learned to play left field, and is now back with the big club in a part-time role. The problem is, his bat plays much better behind the plate, where he’s a clear offensive plus. In left, however, his hitting is average at best.

So therein lies the problem. Swihart is a great player without a clear role on the Red Sox, which limits his value to them at the present. He’s still very attractive to other teams, however, where he would represent a clear improvement at catcher. Ipso facto, Swihart is worth more to other teams than he is to the Sox, which is why they should move him now while his perceived value is still high, before a prolonged slump or injury potentially drags it down.

Swihart alone should net a pretty sweet return, and if Boston packages him with some prospects they could land another top-shelf starter to pair with Price (Sonny Gray, perhaps?). The Red Sox should trade Blake Swihart soon, however, because if they wait until late July it might be too late.

Do Steroids Even Matter Anymore?

I overheard an interesting question between two fans at the opening of the Red Sox v. Astros series last week. “You think he’s back on steroids?” someone asked about Ortiz as he stood at-bat. I thought about how unlikely that would be. What does Ortiz have to gain by using steroids? So he can leave baseball at the top? That’s quite a risk for someone who has already been mentioned in rumors about usage. But on a larger level I have to ask myself, “Do steroids even matter anymore?”

A lot of people will say yes, they matter a lot. They say that steroid usage is cheatingSteroids Even Matter because it prolongs a player’s career, makes him unnaturally strong, and gives a team an unbalanced advantage over another. But it’s not like PEDs haven’t been around for years. Jim Bouton’s book Ball Four details amphetamine use in baseball in the 1960s and 70s. Players would take them by the handful before a game to stay energized. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon to find bowls of the stuff in locker rooms throughout baseball. So when the question of whether to induct Roger Clemens comes up, why don’t the same critics who point to his alleged steroid usage also call out the Hall of Famers who took amphetamines over fifty years ago? What’s the difference between a guy like Barry Bonds, and Willie Mays, who allegedly kept a liquid form of amphetamines in his locker during his final days with the Mets? I honestly think it comes down to its label. “…if there was a pill that could guarantee you would win 20 games but would take five years off of your life, players would take it,” Boutin added. “The only thing I didn’t know at the time was the name.” In the 1960s, no one really knew what amphetamines were, much less thought about the ethics of taking them. So there was no proper noun to speak of that people could use as a weapon to label players they didn’t like.

So Do Steroids Even Matter?

On one hand, I don’t think players who routinely took and depended on steroids during their careers should immediately be inducted in the Hall of Fame, including Roger Clemens. It’s not just because of their usage, but also because of the tremendous amount of arrogance they displayed when using. The humbleness that has often been consistent with baseball was absent in their demeanor. Combine that aspect with a disregard for rules, and the general disregard for their own bodies is enough for me to keep them out of the Hall of Fame. Not to mention they’re terrible role models for teens who don’t understand what steroids can really do to your body. On the other hand, it’s not fair that players like Willie Mays used amphetamines and were never criticized, while Ortiz and Clemens are continually condemned for their alleged usage. So what does it come down to nowadays? “[Steroids] matter in terms of players are still getting suspended for it and can cost their team,” says Christopher Cooper, a personal trainer and co-owner of Active Movement & Performance in Massapequa Park, NY. “They can disappoint fans, but it’s not as much in the limelight as they were a few years ago. So it’s almost as if they don’t matter, unless your team’s player gets caught.”

So do steroids even matter anymore? To loyal fanboys the answer is no; they’ll stay loyal to their favorite player. But to opposing fans, it most certainly does. It’s a label that will always be used as a weapon to attack the opposition.

Josh Rutledge is Becoming a Luxury for the Red Sox

Boston Red Sox bench player, Josh Rutledge, has been a bright spot for the team this season as a reliable option off the bench. With the Sox struggling to hit left handed pitchers this season, Rutledge’s ability to do so is invaluable to this team.

The Sox as a team this season have struggled mightily against left handed pitchers, hittingJosh Rutledge just .226 as a team with a meager three home runs in 186 at bats. Rutledge has provided the team with a reliable bat against lefties this season, hitting .625 thus far, albeit in a small sample size, just eight at bats. He has shown improvement against left handers throughout his young career. In his first two seasons, he hit just .247 as a rookie and then .196 against them in his second year. The last two years have provided a different story as Josh Rutledge has come around picking up pitches from lefties, hitting .321 in 2014 followed by .318 last season and now off to the strong start this year. Coming off the bench primarily, Rutledge is the preferred option when a left handed specialist comes into the game.

In Friday night’s game, Josh Rutledge was called upon to pinch hit for catcher Christian Vazquez against New York Yankees left handed relief pitcher, Andrew Miller. Miller is one of the best all around relievers in the business and Rutledge furthered the notion that he has figured out lefties by ripping a single up the middle off of Miler to start the ninth inning. If Rutledge continues hitting like this, he might find himself starting at third base when the team is facing a southpaw. Sox starting third baseman Travis Shaw is hitting just .083 against lefties and is a big part of the team’s struggles against them. John Farrell should consider inserting Rutledge in the starting lineup at third base for Shaw against left handers. However, until Farrell realizes that this is the right move, Rutledge will continue to provide the team with offense off of the bench as a pinch hitter.