Red Sox Nation Loves To Hate John Farrell

Look at any comment thread beneath a Red Sox article and you can see how fans love to hate John Farrell. They call for his ouster when the Red Sox are losing. They demand his head when they lose badly. Red Sox Nation is even lukewarm towards him when the Red Sox are winning. So why all the hate?

I’ll admit I’m one of those writers who has gone back and forth on Farrell. Some days I’llhate john farrell defended his honor. There’s no doubt Red Sox Nation gets worked up sometimes and says irrational things. Then there’s other days when I read about low morale in the Red Sox clubhouse and assume Farrell’s the source. But is Farrell a consistent manager or do fans and writers just love to hate him?

Bill “Spaceman” Lee once shared his opinion about fickle Boston fans. The pilgrims came here from England and decided to settle in this area where it gets bitter cold in the winter and the snow is often brutal. Facing this hard weather year and year has turned Bostonians into a moody brood who love to hate, and hate to love. So is Farrell a victim of this New England attitude or is he really that bad at managing?

Do Fans Hate John Farrell Or Just Every Red Sox Manager?

Farrell led the Red Sox to a World Series win in 2013, followed by two last-place seasons in 2014 and 2015. The Red Sox won a playoff spot last year but it was more of a limp into the post-season than a sprint. But was that Farrell’s fault? It’s no secret that injuries plague the Red Sox, especially their pitching staff. Farrell did, however, make some questionable decisions last year when he continued to insert Clay Buchholz after it was clear he didn’t have what it took to win ballgames. Then there’s his questionable use of inexperienced pinch hitters.

So do fans love to hate John Farrell? Well, I’ll admit that this writer does. He’s an easy target the same way a teacher is for students when they get poor grades. Is it because he or she is a bad teacher, or is it because the students didn’t study hard enough? You don’t have to look far to find Red Sox players who don’t hustle as much as they should (cough cough Pablo Sandoval). So is that Farrell’s fault? No.

But should Farrell do more to motivate his players? Yes. If not, it’ll eventually cost him his job.

From Tragedy to Triumph: This is Our F’N City

#OneDayInBoston is the hashtag being used for today, but it’s also the perfect way to begin the story of the tragedy that rocked our city three years ago today. One day in Boston…

April 15, 2013—Patriot’s Day, the Red Sox playing at home and, of course, the 117th This is our fucking cityBoston Marathon. “Marathon Monday”, as we call it in Boston,began as a day like any other—battling Boston traffic, perfect spring weather for New England, Red Sox fans and marathon watchers cluttering the streets. After observing a moment of silence honoring the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting, the marathon began as scheduled; wheelchair participants left the starting line at 9:17, elite women at 9:32 and elite men at 10:00 AM. By 10:40 AM, all competitors in the world’s oldest annual marathon were on the way towards the finish line on Boylston St. 26.2 miles away.

2 hours and 10 minutes into the race, the first, second and third place winners triumphantly crossed the finish line. Their clock times were 2:10:22, 2:10:27 and 2:10:28. Nearly two hours later at approximately 2:49 PM, with runners crossing the finish line and approximately 5,600 more yet to cross, two pressure-cooker bombs–packed with shrapnel and other materials and hidden in backpacks that were placed on the ground amidst crowds of marathon-watchers–exploded within seconds of each other near the finish line along Boylston Street. The blasts instantly turned the sun-filled afternoon into a gruesome scene of destruction and chaos. Three spectators died: a 23-year-old woman, a 29-year-old woman and an 8-year-old boy, while more than 260 other people were wounded. Sixteen people lost legs; the youngest amputee was a 7-year-old girl.

First responders reacted immediately, and a medical tent that had been erected to treat runners was turned into an emergency medical facility. Three bombing victims died of their injuries, and more than 100 of the seriously injured were transferred to area hospitals.

Our city was under attack.

Calls to and from that area of Boston were impossible. The FBI, Boston Police and State Police closed  everything within a 15-block radius. Our city had been attacked and we had no idea by who, what or if there was more to come.

Law enforcement officials worked feverishly to find out who was behind this attack and where they were. Bostonians were licking their wounds…but not for long.

Within 48 hours we knew that the attack was a terrorist attack using homemade bombs. Within 72 hours, the FBI released photos of two male suspects— 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and older brother 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev. We knew who and we knew what and it was only a matter of time before law enforcement officials knew where these men were.

As a massive manhunt ensues, the brothers continue to run, winding up at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where police officer Sean Collier is shot and killed on campus by the bombers, raising the death toll to 4.

This is Our F’N City!

April 20, 2013— 5 days after tragedy struck our beloved city and not even 24 hours after the capture of the terrorists behind the attack, baseball returned to Fenway Park. In the first home game since the marathon bombing, the Red Sox pregame honored the victims, law enforcement and everyone who helped our city to recover and begin healing.

On this Saturday afternoon, before tens of thousands of Fenway Faithful and a national television audience, David Ortiz had something he wanted to say to the city he has come to love.

After an emotional week that included bombings at the marathon, real life Call of Duty scenes in our city’s streets, residents locked in their homes under Gov. Patrick’s orders for safety and security while police hunted these terrorists, and the deaths of four people—we were in no mood to be politically correct or to censor ourselves. And this was evident in Big Papi’s words to our beloved city:

“All right, Boston,this jersey that we wear today, it doesn’t say ‘Red Sox.’ It say ‘Boston.’ We want to thank you, Mayor Menino, Governor Patrick, the whole police department for the great job that they did this past week. This is our F’N city, and nobody’s going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong. Thank you.”

David Ortiz’s words—This is our F’n city—rallied the city together, and the team. 2013 was the year our city went from tragedy to triumph as we watched our team rally together under Big Papi’s inspirational words and actions. With every Red Sox win that year, not only did our beloved team become stronger, but so did our city. As the Sox went from ‘worst to first’, it strengthened our city. We saw people ban together to support one another, to help their fellow neighbor and most of all, to not live in fear, but to fight back because, “This is our F’n City!”

We all know that the Sox went on to win the World Series that year, a triumphant end to a tragic year for Boston’s residents. Baseball, like it has at so many times throughout American history, served as a distraction from the reality of what was going on around us, but it also unified a city, a community, a nation.

None of us, especially here in Boston, will ever forget April 15, 2013. We will never forget those who tragically lost their lives, and we can never be thankful enough for the people who worked to help and save so many more. The world is an uncertain place, that’s no secret. But as we remember the events of that one day in Boston, we should also remember that we are Boston Strong.

This is our F’n city!

Comparing 2014 Red Sox to 2013 after 32 games

Red Sox 2014 Ortiz

After 32 games last season, the Boston Red Sox were 21-11 and on top of the AL East. This season through 32 games, the Red Sox are in third place in the AL East with a 15-17 record. Let’s compare the differences between this year’s Red Sox team and the 2013 team.

In the team’s first 32 games in 2013, the Red Sox were hitting .302 with runners in scoring position, and ranked third in the majors at the time. This season, the Red Sox are hitting .222 (with a .669 OPS) with runners in scoring position. Only the Cleveland Indians and the Houston Astros are hitting worse in the American League. 

Having a .244 batting average also doesn’t help the Red Sox. While designated hitter David Ortiz has six home runs, he has a .241 batting average. Outfielders Grady Sizemore and Jackie Bradley Jr. have also struggled, as both are hitting .224 and .215 respectively.

So far in 2014, the Red Sox have failed to drive in runs in a number of their games, including their 3-2 loss Sunday against the Oakland Athletics. During that game, Boston left a total of 25 runners on base.

The Red Sox have had more opportunities than most to score runs. The problem has been moving runners over in scoring position and/or scoring them at all.

The big reason for the success of the Red Sox a season ago was their ability to win close games. During their first 32 games in 2013, they were 4-2 in one-run games and had three walk-off victories. So far in 32 games in 2014, the Red Sox are 3-8 in one-run games.

The bright side for Sox fans so far has been their starting pitching. After 32 games, Boston has a 3.68 ERA, which ranks third in the American League. Jon Lester and Jake Peavy have been the team’s best starting pitchers by far as they both have an ERA under three.

While the bullpen hasn’t been as lights out as a year ago, it still ranks among the best in the majors. Koji Uehara and Junich Tazawa have been great in the bullpen, but Edward Mujica has been a huge disappointment. In 11 games the 2013 All-Star has played, he has given up a total of 10 runs.

There’s no point of mentioning the players who were on the Red Sox last year, because it’s pointless. They aren’t coming back to Boston and this 2014 version of the Red Sox needs to play more consistently. So far Boston doesn’t have that ‘It factor’ it had last season, but that doesn’t mean this team can’t be as special.

Time To Panic Red Sox Nation!

Time to panic Red Sox Nation

The time to panic is now. The time to panic, freak out, blow a gasket and/or go bananas is unfortunately upon us. The 2014 Boston Red Sox now rival my scholastic career when it comes to greatly underachieving.

Fresh off a 14-5 series-ending beat down at the hands of the dreaded New York Yankees, the Red Sox limped into Canada hoping that a change in countries, and copious amounts of poutine, would be enough of a motivating factor to get them back to .500.

The Red Sox managed to take two of three from the Toronto Blue Jays, but once again failed to take that giant leap forward needed to get them fully back on track. After losing the first game of an eventual day-night doubleheader sweep to the Tampa Rays on Thursday, the Red Sox have now lost their seventh-straight game this season where a win would have brought them to at or above the .500 mark.

The current eight-game home stand concludes with visits from both the American League West leading Oakland Athletics and the scrappy 13-15 Cincinnati Reds.

This early May home stand will serve as a crucial turning point to the young season. The recent returns of outfielder Shane Victorino and third baseman Will Middlebrooks, from the 15-day disabled list, finally allows manager John Farrell the opportunity to consistently field the best possible lineup on a nightly basis; a lineup he had likely envisioned when the club began to take shape over the offseason.

Injuries and Major League Baseball’s newly expanded video replay system can be blamed for a large part of the team’s current situation, but they’re not the only things. The Red Sox have been, at various times, failing in all phases of the game. Consistency has eluded this team from the onset. Continually failing to string together more than two wins in a row has kept the Red Sox from emerging from the murky depths of the American League East.

The 2013 Red Sox made their mark by turning nothing into something on a nightly basis. A two, three or even a four-run lead did not seem insurmountable in 2013, it was just another opportunity for someone to step up and deliver.

The 2014 Red Sox will never be the 2013 team, no team ever will.

As we rip another month off of the calendar, we must keep remembering two things. First, seasons are rarely lost in April. Secondly, one of the most difficult things to do in all of sports is to repeat. Baseball can be a harsh reality at times. With each passing loss, long-time fans will begin to question the future of this great franchise while lining the Tobin contemplating whether or not to jump. This is Boston, this is what we do, this is what we signed up for.

Each game is an opportunity for the team to get back to their winning ways. Each game is an opportunity to turn nothing into something.

 

 

 

 

Random Statistics Through The First 26 Games, 2013 vs. 2014

lesterWith this month nearly in the books, and a long way still to go, there are some statistics worth looking at when comparing the last two Aprils. The biggest difference is in the standings. Last year at this time the Red Sox were atop the American League East with a record of 18-8. Today, they are 12-14 and in fourth place. While they have won the same amount of games on the road, (this year vs. last year) with seven, in 2013 they were 11-5 at Fenway Park, while this year they are 5-8.   At the plate, in April of 2013 they batted .271, which was the second best average in the league. This year, they are hitting .241, which is only better than three other teams. With the drop in average has also come a drop in runs, which is substantial. Last year at this point they were third in the league with 135 runs. Today, they are in the middle of the pack with 104 runs scored. Another glaring difference is in stolen bases. Last year in April, they Sox swiped 22 bases, this month only 9. One major difference in the drop in runs scored and stolen bases from year to year is the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury. He had half of April’s stolen base total in 2013 with 11 out of 22. Right now, the leader on the Red Sox in that category is his replacement in center field, Jackie Bradley Jr., with 3.

On the mound, there is an increase in the team’s ERA from 3.50 last April to 3.90 this year. A more glaring increase, though, is in hits allowed. This year there is more than a 30% month-to-month than last year, with 253 hits allowed so far compared to 191 last year. There’s an increase in runs allowed as well, with 120 this April versus 97 last year at this point. Earned runs jumped from 92 to 102 year to year as well.   What does all this mean? Who knows! Statistics can sometimes tell quite a bit, but the real story is in the standings. Last year at this time the Red Sox were high atop the AL East, while this year they are in 4th place, but as was stated at the top…there’s a long time to go.

Loosey Goosey Sox Just Like We Were 14 Years Ago

Sox

Boston Red Sox’s Mike Napoli, right, has his beard tugged by teammate David Ross at the dugout in celebration of Napoli’s solo home run against the Baltimore Orioles in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Seeing David Ross grab Mike Napoli’s beard after Napoli’s two-run homer in the bottom of the first against the Yankees Sunday night had me waxing nostalgic to 14 years ago.

There we were on the outfield grass before another game, a ragtag bunch of blue-collar collegiate baseball players stretching out — by playing Duck, Duck, Goose, of course.  It was an actual part of our pre-game ritual on the Salem State College baseball team.

True story.

“GOOSE!” If we heard it, and were tapped on the head, we wanted to chase down our teammate like a flyball. It got competitive. But we laughed the whole time. We still laugh non-stop when we get together every now and then.
You know, looking back at this, I think we won most of our games right then and there in the pre-games.

After all, we had to have either freaked out our opponents so badly into playing with fear, or, perhaps just the opposite – got them thinking we were a bunch of idiots who didn’t take things seriously; and hence, they let their guards down.

Plus, it got us loose. We never took ourselves too seriously.

Whatever the formula, we ended up winning 26 games that year, won the league title had an All-American and led the nation in home runs per game.

The point here, and this has long been debated around successful ballclubs, is that team chemistry does matter. I’ve been through it. We were connected that year more than any other, from the Duck, Duck, Goose games, to actual baseball games, and even off the field. The bus rides were a riot (even if Coach nixed the idea of watching “Bull Durham” when Susan Sarandon came into the flick). Heck, we even went down with the ship together during our Florida trip (violating curfew concerns).

Bottom line – we liked each other. We trusted one another. Just like the 2013 Red Sox do.

For them, it’s the beard-grabbing, helmet-punting type of stuff. For us, it was making the pre-game outfield ritual look like kindergarten recess.