Red Sox look at the road ahead

As we head into May, the Red Sox look at the road ahead. They are now on the road to Chicago to play the White Sox. From there, it’s on to Baltimore. How will this month go compared to April? Time can only tell. Hopefully, after an April that saw the World Champs go 14-17, May will be a better month.

After a rainy rock and roller coaster of a homestand, the Red Sox are ready to head tored sox look Chicago. In a homestand that saw two rain outs, the Rays redemption, and two crazy series vs the Detroit Tigers and Oakland A’s, the Red Sox are ready to hit the road. Granted, they are leaving Fenway on a high note. Now, hopefully they bring the brooms on the plane.

Red Sox Look To The Road To The Windy City

First up for the Red Sox is the other Sox. The Chicago White Sox are having a rough start to their season as well. Currently, the White Sox are 13-15, after hosting the Baltimore Orioles. Their season, like Boston’s, started off on the bumpy road. The bright spot for Chicago is their shortstop, Tim Anderson. Currently, Anderson’s batting .375, with six home runs and 18 RBI’s. He’s also been a terror on the bases as well, with 10 stolen bases. The 2013 first round draft pick for the Chicago White Sox is currently in his fourth season.

One name that will stand out to Red Sox fans is Yoan Moncada. The 23 year old switch hitter is in his third season with the White Sox. Moncada, who made his Major League debut with Boston in 2016, was part of the trade for Chris Sale. So far this season, the third baseman is hitting .314 with six home runs and 20 RBI’s.

Good Morning Baltimore…

The last time we saw the Orioles, it was Patriot’s Day weekend. In that series, the Red Sox took two of the four games from Baltimore. Looking to stay away from the basement, the Red Sox have some work to do. Right now, the Orioles sit in last place in the division. Before taking on the Red Sox, Tampa Bay will be making a visit to Camden Yards. The first place Rays look to continue their success, and push Baltimore further into the basement. The Orioles are currently 11-21 in the East.

One player to pay attention to is none other than Chris Davis. After a major slump, Davis broke out in Boston, going 3-5 in the Baltimore win on April 13th. The first baseman is currently batting .176 with three home runs, and looks to continue his success against Boston.

Coming Home From The Road

When the Red Sox finally return to Fenway, they will be greeted by the Seattle Mariners. Fans can only wonder how this road trip will fair for the Red Sox. Despite a rather crazy home stand, I’m confident that the World Series Champions are back. For the Red Sox, it’s about digging themselves out of this hole. Right now, it’s not too bad. As the Red Sox look ahead, we need to keep the faith, Red Sox Nation. The boys are back!

A Whole New Red Sox Homestand

After a brief road trip to New York and Tampa Bay, the Red Sox head home to Fenway Park. In this Red Sox homestand they look to take on the Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland A’s.

How will the Red Sox do against these teams? Hopefully better, considering the injuriesred sox homestead that have been piling up. On the plus side, after being swept by the Yankees, they did a great job against the Rays. The Red Sox swept the AL East leader, and look to continue their success at Fenway.

Review of the Last Red Sox Homestand

The last time we saw the Red Sox at home, they played the Blue Jays and the Orioles. They went 3-3, including a walk off win against the Jays. It looked like some areas were off for the Red Sox. The main issue was starting pitching. After the series against the Rays, it seems like everything is in working order. Granted, there are some small issues, but that’s expected.

The Tigers Come to Fenway

The Detroit Tigers, led by Ron Gardenhire, are 10-10 in the AL Central division. Their last series before coming to Fenway saw them play the Chicago White Sox, in which they went 2-1 in the series. One of the games, however, was rained out.

Although we will see many familiar faces on the Tigers, there is one to take note of. Rookie relief pitcher, Reed Garrett has been a bright spot in their bullpen. Garrett, who made his MLB debut on March 29th, has pitched in 6 games, with a 1.29 ERA. He’s pitched in seven innings, striking out seven batters.

The Rays Are Coming To Seek Revenge

After the Red Sox swept the Rays in the Trop, the Rays come to Fenway. This time, they’re looking to take control. After the Red Sox’s bats woke up, they beat the Rays in good fashion. Everything seemed to be clicking for Boston in that series. Now, the Red Sox are looking to make sure their success against them continues

Following a series that saw the Rays loose three straight to the Red Sox, they will go onto play the Kansas City Royals at home. Making another return to Fenway Park is former Red Sox draft pick Jalen Beeks. Last season, Beeks was traded to Tampa Bay for Nathan Eovaldi. Beeks made his Fenway return last August, pitching four innings giving up a hit and striking out three.

The A’s Are Looking to Finish April With An A

The last time the Red Sox played the A’s, it was part of that West Coast road trip at the beginning of the season. That series saw the Red Sox go 1-3 in Oakland. Since then, the A’s have landed in fourth place in the AL West, with a record of 11-13. Their last series, was a sweep for the Toronto Blue Jays in Oakland.

One thing to note before Oakland comes to Fenway is the contract extension of Khris Davis. The 31 year old outfielder recently signed a signed a two year $33.5 million dollar extension to stay in Oakland. Davis, who arrived in Oakland after a trade with Milwaukee in the 2015 off season, made his MLB debut with the Brewers in 2013.

Are We at the End of the Twenty Game Winner Era?

It’s no secret that managers are yanking their starting pitchers sooner than later from games nowadays. The Tampa Bay Rays are using their relievers to start the first inning before moving on to their starter. Middle man pitchers are more in demand. So does this mean we’re seeing the end of the twenty game winner era?

According to calltothepen.com, “From 1886 -1981, there was only one Major Leaguetwenty game winner Baseball season (1981) where an individual pitcher failed to become a 20 game winner. Since 1994, there have already been six such seasons…” What are the reasons behind the decline? An increase in arm injuries is one factor. Since Tommy John surgery is commonplace in Major League Baseball now, many pitchers falsely assume they can throw as hard as they want and just get the surgery later to repair their arm. This is leading to more arm damager and a reluctance by managers to keep pitchers in games longer. The increase in injuries is leading organizations like Little League Baseball to issue guidelines limiting the amount of pitches a player can throw. For example, a Little Leaguer around age seven or eight can only throw a maximum of 50 pitches in a game. Some teams in Major League Baseball are starting to follow suit.

MLB Teams Are Shaking Up Their Pitching Rotations

The Tampa Bay Rays started an experiment this season where one of their relievers pitches the first inning. After the first inning, the pitcher initially scheduled to start comes in. It’s sort of a role reversal where relief pitchers can hammer the opposing team’s starting lineup sooner than later. So what do other baseball writers think of this idea? Sridhar Pappu, author of The Year of the Pitcher, stated that “…the complete game is very much a thing of the past and what the Rays are doing–experimenting with relievers starting games could make traditional starting pitching–much less twenty game winners–obsolete for some teams, should it work.”

We’ll Certainly Never See a Thirty Game Winner Again, Much Less Twenty Game Winner

Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers was the last pitcher to win thirty games in a season back in 1968. Since then there’s only been a handful of pitchers who have come anywhere near winning thirty games. “I think the idea that we would ever see a 30 game winner, given the number of actual starts a pitcher makes and limited pitch counts and innings limits, is going to be something we will never see in the game again,” Pappu added. “Moreover, with the use of advanced analytics, the idea of wins being the primary factor of getting into the Hall of Fame, will fade–and quicker than we might think as new, younger voters begin to grow in influence.”

We’ll certainly never see a thirty game winner again. It’s fair to say too that we are at the end of the twenty game winner era as well.

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.

Bullpen Woes Continue to Plague Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox are currently in Detroit for a four-game series. The Red Sox dropped the first two games before winning 7-5 on Sunday. Bullpen woes played a role in their first two losses, an issue the team has faced for a few seasons now. Between injuries and inconsistent playing time, their bullpen has failed to find their groove. Although Boston won the third game of the series with one more to go, they still have a lot to work on. If they don’t, the bullpen woes will cost the team a playoff birth.

The box scores indicate where the relief pitching often collapses. Their startersbullpen woes are decent, but not strong. Friday’s game saw starter Steve Wright give up four earned runs through six innings. The Red Sox scored five of their own but it wasn’t enough. Reliever Heath Hembree’s inability to stop the Tigers’ led to their victory as he gave up two runs for a 6-5 loss. They can’t afford to make these kinds of mistakes so early in the season. Yes, it is early, but its better to face these issues sooner than later. It will only get worse because opposing teams will continue to focus their offensive efforts on the relievers.

Late Inning Offensive Is Just as Bad As The Sox Bullpen Woes

It’s only fair to point out that the Red Sox bullpen would be stronger if they had the run support. The Red Sox don’t have much of a problem scoring runs early on. It’s the later innings when opposing pitchers, who by then have faced the same hitter a few times, know how to retire the side. I’ve been saying this for a while now. The Red Sox have an issue with overcoming deficits. Opposing pitchers know the lineup too well and it doesn’t seem like Farrell’s doing much to change his tactics (Admittedly, I wrote this line before today’s victory over Detroit).

Boosting their later inning offense could be the solution Farrell needs, as was evident in today’s victory over Detroit. We saw the Red Sox rally in the top of the 8th by scoring three runs, just enough for Craig Kimbrel to pick up the save. The Red Sox might see more victories like this if they continue to focus on offense. This could be the key. If the team can build the run support in later innings like they did today, the bullpen will have more breathing room and can focus on saving the game.

Today’s victory over Detroit is a model the Red Sox should follow the next time they fall behind. What you saw in the 8th inning today were simple hit-and-run tactics managers don’t focus on often enough anymore. Get on base, drive them home, rack up the runs.

Let’s hope the Red Sox use today’s victory as a model for future success.

Keeping Perspective On The 2016 Red Sox Season

The Red Sox swept the basement-dwelling Arizona Diamondbacks in a 3-game set over the weekend making it is easy to lose perspective on the 2016 Red Sox season as a whole. They outscored Arizona 31-9 over the span of the series and gave fans hope for October baseball.2016 Red Sox

Even with the series sweep, the Red Sox still have a tough road ahead. And by tough, I mean really tough. Over the next week and a half, the Red Sox will travel to four different cities with no off-days. Of those four teams, three of them are within a game and a half of a playoff spot. For all intents and purposes, they’re in the “playoff picture”.

The 2016 Red Sox Going Forward

The trip starts Monday with one game in Cleveland, a make-up from the opening series of the year. Drew Pomeranz starts against the Tribe, who is still winless in a Red Sox uniform. This road trip will also be without Steven Wright, who went on the 15-day DL Monday. Wright has gone 13-5 this year and is tied for the league lead in complete games with four. Not being able to roll out Wright for an assured eight innings may prove costly on such a long road trip.

After Cleveland, it will be two games in Baltimore then four in Detroit. Both of these teams are hot in the race and the Orioles are still ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East. This next week can certainly widen a Red Sox lead in the Wild Card and could even make a push for the division lead. The Orioles are an AL-best 39-17 in their confines of Camden Yards however, making the task that much more difficult.

The bullpen could still be an issue for this team, though. With the exception of the tremendous inning by Brad Ziegler Saturday night, the last week has been nightmarish for the pen. The Red Sox will need better work from Robbie Ross, Fernando Abad, and Junichi Tazawa to make a serious playoff push.

That being said, the sweep means the Red Sox are far from out of it. If they can come out on the plus side of this road trip, they will have a new lease on life. After the summer they have had, Red Sox fans should count their blessings. Basically, this road trip will show what the 2016 Red Sox are really made of.