X Marks The Spot For The Rising Shortstop

2013 saw a special player come to the Red Sox organization. The Red Sox shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, came to the big leagues looking to be the next big rising shortstop star.

For baseball fans who grew up in the 1990’s, there were three shortstops that were wellrising shortstop known in the baseball world. The names Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez would be mentioned countless times, and many considered them to be the Big Three of shortstops.

Each one’s career went in a different path. For Derek Jeter, he spent his whole career with the New York Yankees. He also had his number 2 retired by the team. Alex Rodriguez started out playing for the Seattle Mariners. From there, he went to the Texas Rangers, and to the New York Yankees as a third baseman. Finally, Nomar Garciaparra, the Red Sox Nation fan favorite, was traded at the 2004 trade deadline to the Chicago Cubs. From there, he also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics.

Before Bogaerts

After the trade of Garciaparra, the Red Sox went through a revolving door of shortstops. Many in Red Sox Nation were looking for the one who could ultimately fill the void at the position for a long time. Maybe a player who can spend his whole career in a Red Sox uniform. Well, look no further than the man we know as X-Man, or Bogey – Xander Bogaerts.

The Shortstop Of The Future

Since the 2004 trade of Nomar Garciaparra, the Red Sox didn’t really have much for homegrown shortstops. The acquisition of Orlando Cabrera in 2004, then the signings of Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo made for tough times at Fenway Park. Jose Iglesias, who arrived on scene in 2011, was a bright spot for the organization. However, the Red Sox traded him to the Tigers at the trade deadline in a three team deal that brought Jake Peavy to the Red Sox. About a month later, another name came on scene – Xander Bogaerts.

The young infielder started off at third base, making his major league debut against the San Francisco Giants on August 20th, 2013. From there, Bogaerts went onto leading the Red Sox to their third World Series Championship since 2004.

In 2014, Xander went from wearing #72, to the #2. Bogaerts also was the starting shortstop on Opening Day. He had a great first full season for the Red Sox, playing in 144 games, batting .240 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI’s. He was also on hand when the Red Sox honored his hero, Derek Jeter in his final game at Fenway.

2015 for the X-Man saw him play in 156 games. He also led the Red Sox in batting average, batting .320 with seven home runs and 81 RBI’s. He also finished in second place in the American League batting title to Miguel Cabrera. Bogaerts did however win his first Silver Slugger Award. The last Red Sox shortstop to win a Silver Slugger Award? Nomar Garciaparra in 1997.

In the season that saw David Ortiz play his final season, Bogaerts had another stellar year. Not only did he win his second consecutive Silver Slugger Award, but he also made his first All Star Team in San Diego. He also had a 26 game hit streak that went from May 6th to June 2nd.

The last two seasons for the rising star saw him win another World Series Championship. Although 2017 wasn’t great for Bogaerts, as he was injured due to a hit by pitch to his wrist, 2018 saw his numbers jump. Manager Alex Cora had Bogaerts batting behind JD Martinez, which allowed him to hit a career high 23 home runs. Many of those home runs were grand slams, one of which was the game winner against the Blue Jays.

Rising Shortstop’s New Deal

Prior to his seventh season in a Red Sox uniform, the Red Sox awarded Xander with a six year contract extension worth $120 million. This contract, will see Bogaerts in a Red Sox uniform through at least the 2025 season.

In his press conference, Bogaerts stated that the first person he called after signing the extension was Dustin Pedroia. He also stated that “It’s a very special place to play”, and he wants to keep playing and winning in Boston.

Looking Forward

So far in the 2019 season, Xander has played in 18 games, batting .297 with two home runs. The 26 year old from Aruba is set to be the face of the franchise following his extension. If he keeps having career seasons, we might one day see the #2 in right field next to David Ortiz’s #34.

Hawking Autographs Hurts Baseball’s Integrity

I’m a member of a Facebook group called Autographs 101. Members give advice and judge the authenticity of signatures. One of the things I love about the group is that its members truly love the game of baseball. Seeing someone proudly display pictures of hawking autographstheir grandfather’s Ted Williams autograph is exciting. One of things that really bothers me though is when someone shows of an autograph they got for free at a game and wants to sell it. Someone gets a baseball signed by Kris Bryant or David Ortiz, then posts a picture of it asking for an obscene amount. Hawking autographs for personal profit not only hurts the game’s integrity, but it’s a selfish thing to do.

I’d go to ballgames as a kid hoping I’d get a few autographs. Other teens and I would stand behind each other patiently waiting for the signatures of Brett Butler, Moises Alou, Pat Hentgen, and Andy Petite, who all signed for me. Nowadays though I see full grown men shoving kids away to get an autograph. Some ballparks now have a Kids Only section where they can get autographs.

These hawkers get hundreds for Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and David Ortiz. Knowing that fans are profiting off of them, some ballplayers now refuse to sign for adults. Others will sign a ball but won’t do it on the sweet spot because they know a fan won’t be able to get as much for it. Washington Nationals’ pitcher Max Scherzer is going an extra step to ensure fans aren’t hawking autographs. Scherzer set up a website where fans can buy his autograph with all the profits going directly to charity. This angers some fans who won’t be able to make a 100% anymore. They brought it on themselves though.

Hawking Autographs Ruins It For Other Fans

I attended the Hall of Fame Classic game last weekend in Cooperstown. Hundreds of fans stood behind a fence on the first base line waiting for Hall of Famers to come and sign. Most were little kids. But I saw many adults with 2×3 foot posters hoping that someone like Wade Boggs would sign it. How obnoxious do you have to be to not only take a kid’s place, but lug around something that large?

I attended the game with my buddy Angelo who told me a story about Alex Rodriguez. A few years ago, his brother stood outside the ballpark for A-Rod. Most of those who were waiting were little kids who A-Rod is apparently more than happy to sign for. But an overzealous fan almost ruined it for everyone when he handed a box of a dozen baseballs to A-Rod asking him to sign each one. “C’mon man, really?” A-Rod said to the guy. “I know what you’re going to do with those.” A-Rod ignored the guy and continued signing for the kids. The guy got nothing, and deservedly so.

I collect autographs myself. I mail baseball cards to former players, and pay a fee to meet them in Cooperstown. One thing I won’t do is push kids aside. If you think that’s okay then you need to get a life.

Manny Machado: The New Red Sox Villain

Since Alex Rodriguez’s career collapsed like the Atlanta Falcons, there has not really Red Sox villainbeen a bonafide Red Sox villain—that is, until last weekend. By now, almost every baseball fan is aware of the situation involving the Red Sox and Orioles; specifically Manny Machado.

History

Whether or not his slide was dirty is now beyond the current state of affairs. At this point, it’s all about baseball’s unwritten rules surrounding things like hit batsmen, home run trots, and team retaliation.

Matt Barnes tried to retaliate and failed, ultimately getting suspended. His attempt to bean Machado in the head actually hit the bat. Then, of course, Machado decides to pimp every home run he hits against the Sox now, which I guess is well deserved. Betts also got beaned on a pitch by Dylan Bundy on Monday.

Needless to say there have been lots of fireworks lately, but nothing compared to what occurred Tuesday night. Moments after the Fenway crowd respectfully recognized Adam Jones, Chris Sale threw behind Manny Machado. This prompted warnings to both sides. It also prompted Manny Machado to exchange choice words with both the Red Sox dugout and the home plate umpire. However, the slugger did take Sale yard only to combine it with a pair of three K’s. Now, he seems to be the subject of every local sports talk show and a chorus of boos.

So he’s the new Red Sox villain, right? I believe so.

One does not simply go on a post-game profanity laden tirade and not be a villain. Especially when he claims to lose all respect for your organization. Secondly, when he takes his sweet old time rounding the bases twice consecutively and has a history of such behavior, why wouldn’t he be the new Joker to the Red Sox Batman?

This Red Sox team needed a spark. Now, Machado has given the Sox the extra incentive to beat up on the current first place team. We shall see how the next meeting goes.

Rodriguez’s Final Fenway Game Uneventful

Alex Rodriguez played his final Fenway game last Thursday night. Amid boos that drowned out a few cheers, A-Rod grounded out to third, marking the end of a contentious career at Fenway Park. Unlike Derek Jeter, there were no pre-game ceremonies, no recognitions, or even an acknowledgment for that matter. All fans saw that night was A-Rod go 0-4 with an RBI.

No one seemed surprised that Rodriguez’s final game was uneventful. For many, it wasFinal Fenway Game just another game. Rodriguez wasn’t revered by Yankee fans like Derek Jeter was, or even respected for that matter. Red Sox fans will always remember him as being the antagonist who took a catcher’s mitt to his face when he back-talked to Jason Varitek. Everyone remembers that game on July 24th, 2004 when Bronson Arroyo drilled A-Rod with a pitch, infuriating the Yankees’ DH. So as A-Rod exchanged heated words with Arroyo, Varitek told him to go to first.

Well, maybe not in those exact words. I can’t write what he said exactly since it’s explicit, but the scene became more tense. Varitek and A-Rod exchanged punches, and a determined Yankee Don Zimmer charged at Pedro Martinez before Martinez threw him to the ground. The iconic photo of A-Rod fighting Varitek hangs in almost every bar in Boston. For many, it is a symbol of Red Sox Pride. To his credit, Varitek refuses to sign photos of the brawl, saying that he didn’t set a good example for younger fans.

A-Rod’s Final Fenway Game Leaves Little To Remember

Alex Rodriguez’s final Fenway game was more of a whimper than a bang. In his final at-bat in the eighth inning, Rodriguez grounded out to third base and thrown out at first. No one stood up and clapped. No acknowledgment on the scoreboard about his final game. Nothing. Well, I take that back. Despite a Red Sox loss that night, the loudest cheers came when A-Rod struck out earlier in the game. The cheers were as loud as if it had been a David Ortiz grand slam. So while A-Rod’s final at-bat wasn’t anything to marvel at, Red Sox fans at the game, me included, can boast that we saw his final at bat on the road.

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.