It’s Time To Say Goodbye To JBJ

The Red Sox invested $8.55 million dollars in their starting center fielder this season. They drafted Jackie Bradley, Jr. in the first round (40th overall) back in 2011. Although JBJ has been one of their better home-grown players, along with Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Dustin Pedroia, Matt Barnes, his numbers to start this season should help explain why Boston’s hitting statistics rank in the bottom third of American League teams. Bradley is 9-for-64 this season (.141 batting average). He has struck out 21 times compared to 5 walks and has just 2 extra-base hits. Time has come to officially say goodbye to JBJ.

When we think of Jackie Bradley, Jr., we think of the best defensive center fielder inSay Goodbye baseball. Truth be told, Bradley has won just one Gold Glove, which came last year. Bradley has been the regular center fielder for the Sox since 2014, the year after the team won their eighth World Series championship. He took over for Jacoby Ellsbury, who signed a seven-year/$153 million-dollar contract with the Yankees that offseason.

In the five seasons that Bradley has been manning center, the AL Gold Glove has been awarded to the likes of Adam Jones, Kevin Kiermaier twice, Byron Buxton, and Bradley, respectively. Bradley’s teammate Mookie Betts has won a Gold Glove in right field for three years running.

Bradley’s OPS numbers from 2014-’18 read like this: .531, .832, .835, .726, .717. He has averaged a .239 batting average over that span. His best season as a hitter came in 2016, when he started alongside Betts in the All-Star Game. That year, he posted career highs across the board: 156 games – 94 runs – 149 hits – 26 home runs – 87 RBI – .835 OPS – 271 total bases.

Compared to other top AL center fielders in 2016, Bradley finished second in RBI, third in runs, home runs, and WAR, and fourth in batting average. The following season, in 2017, he sank from third to seventh in runs and batting average. Also, individually speaking, his OPS dropped more than one-hundred points, he hit 9 less home runs, and his WAR dropped from 5.3 to 2.2. Last year, in 2018, Bradley saw his OPS drop again. His .234 batting average was his worst since his rookie year. Some might believe that downward trends like this should have authorized the Red Sox to say goodbye to JBJ some time ago.

Say Goodbye To JBJ: Always been a streaky hitter

A .926 OPS, 14 home runs, and 55 RBI in 2016’s first half are really what earned Bradley an All Star appearance in 2016. However, in the season’s second half, his numbers changed drastically. His OPS fell nearly two-hundred points (.728). He posted just 20 extra base hits after collecting 36 from April-July.

When looking at his overall career, JBJ is a .257 hitter at Fenway Park. His road batting average, however, sits at an ugly .216 clip. When facing right-handed pitchers, his career OPS of .734 warrants an average hitter. Against lefty’s his OPS drops to .664.

At this moment, tough to cut ties

Waiving or trading JBJ right now might not make the most sense, but sitting him more regularly would be smart. Betts has plenty of experience in center field. Benintendi is comfortably the everyday left fielder. Perhaps J.D. Martinez, the team’s DH, would entertain more starts in the outfield. Brock Holt, who is currently on the Injured List, has experience playing the outfield, as well as Steve Pearce.

The Red Sox have a plethora of talented hitters: Betts, Benintendi, Martinez, Pearce, Mitch Moreland, Rafael Devers, Michael Chavis. The more manager Alex Cora can get this group in the lineup card, the more runs will cross the plate. With more talent (Pedroia and Eduardo Nunez) due back to the lineup in the impending future, the Red Sox should say goodbye to JBJ.

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.

2019 Boston Red Sox Home Opener Will Be Historic

After starting the 2019 season embarking on an 11-game road trip, the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox will return home to Boston. The Red Sox will host its home opener on Tuesday, April 9th against the Toronto Blue Jays. The team will host a historic pregame ceremony. They will also honor Super Bowl LIII Champion New England Patriots as part of its pregame festivities.

Yet it won’t be the first time this has taken place.2018 Boston Red Sox Home Opener

Who could ever forget the 2005 Boston Red Sox home opener?  The team honored the 2004 World Series champions as they won for the World Series first time in 86 years. It was also the first time that the Red Sox honored the Super Bowl XXXIX Champion New England Patriots; in the same pregame ceremony.

In order to really appreciate what this all means to Boston and New England, one should pause and reflect on the importance of this event. Home openers in Boston symbolize success as Boston professional sports teams have won so much and frequently since 2001.

Red Sox Home Opener Marks an Important Anniversary

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the 2004 Red Sox team that broke the 86 year title drought. It’s remarkable that it has been 15 years since the 2004 Boston Red Sox brought joy to millions across New England. However, 2019 also marks the 15th anniversary of the 2004 New England Patriots. They are the last team in the NFL to repeat as Super Bowl Champions after winning it the previous season.

In a city that’s defined by the success of its teams, the 2019 Boston Red Sox home opener will serve as a reminder to everyone that Boston is the city of champions.  The only question left is: what will the  2018 World Series Championship rings look like? We will find out on Tuesday afternoon.

In spite of the Red Sox’s rough start to the 2019 season, it should not dampen optimism for the season. The home opener will offer one last chance for fans and media to appreciate what the 2018 Boston Red Sox accomplished.  They won a franchise record 108 games while embarking on an 11-3 run in October to capture the franchise’s eight World Series title & their fourth title since 2004. These are truly remarkable times for Boston sports fans.

Green Monster Rendezvous: My First Time at Fenway

The first thing that hits you is the dull roar of the slowly gathering crowd. Your ears fill with the sizzle of excitement that pours off every fan in the stands. Then it hits your nose. The pungent scent of ballpark beers, franks, and peanuts permeate your nostrils. But, ultimately, it is your eyes that savor the most delicious part of the feast. Once you focus your attention to the green wall in left, all other surroundings are put on pause for a moment. You think of the stories of all the greats that defended that wall, that crushed line drives into that wall, and all the history the wall has seen in its century of life. Call this explosion of senses the Green Monster Rendezvous; or at least how I remember my first time visiting Fenway Park.

No Green Monster Rendezvous is complete without a landmark of baseball

If you watch enough game broadcasts, you have heard the cliche conversations aboutGreen Monster Rendezvous famous Fenway fixtures. The Red Seat, Pesky Pole, and the triangle in center field, to name a few. But until you step out onto the concourse and drink it all in yourself, it is hard to appreciate how rare this abode is. On the eve of my first visit to America’s most beloved ballpark, I spent the night tossing and turning. How could a boy sleep with his dream set to come true in just hours? “Is the Monster as big as they say it is? What are Bostonians like? How close do we sit to the players?” My mind raced with uncertainties as I tried to anticipate what my Green Monster Rendezvous would be.

Your personal recollection of your first time visiting Fenway is a story in and of itself. Viewing baseball in a space occupied by millions of fans throughout generations of American history is a feat few parks can boast. The unmistakable green that accentuates the blue and red creates a color war that rivals any in sports. The memory of seeing the field for the first time is what still comes to mind when I hear “Fenway.”

“Whether you are five, 25, or 75, a true Red Sox fan feels that same influx of energy every time.”

But no part of digesting Fenway is complete until you finally observe the Green Monster. My first experience with the Monster was cinematic: my jaw dropped so low that you could have swept it up off the ground. The Monster’s majesty of such a towering presence might wear off with age for some, but not for me. Every time I walk up the stairs to the grandstands, the same rush of adrenaline rushes over. Whether you are five, 25, or 75, a true Red Sox fan feels that same influx of energy every time.

I was so excited to feast my eyes on the diamond that I ran off. My family toiled behind me, surely ready to ridicule me from sprinting off of the group. But I did not care. Scold me, warn me, do what you must; it will not be before I finally see the field. The funny thing about it is, they did not say a word. They knew what it meant for me. All of our parents know this feeling, because they all have their own Green Monster Rendezvous stories. In fact, if you are reading this, you have your own story to tell about this special day in your life.

Comment below with your own tale about your first time seeing America’s most beloved ballpark.

What’s the Best Ballpark in Baseball?

Of course, Fenway Park is the best ballpark in baseball. Many fans though don’t get to venture outside of New England to see other ballparks though. There’s two in New York City. Then there are ballparks in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C., which are all within a days’ drive. But how many baseball fans have been to multiple baseball parks?

The Best Ballparks in Baseball

I’ve been to eleven ballparks in my lifetime. I’ve been to Fenway Park 200+ times (seasonbest ballpark ticket holder). Runner-up is Camden Yards in Baltimore, which is one of the most gorgeous parks in the country. It’s a throwback to the old ballparks that were built before the cookie-cutter stadiums of the 1970s. The Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park is baseball’s best-kept secret in my opinion. Parking is easy and close by. It has the cheapest food of any other stadium I’ve been to as well. And contrary to popular opinion, their fanbase is actually pretty cool and friendly. I also enjoy going to Nationals Park in Washington D.C. They have the best hot dogs. It reminds me of Fenway Park too because of the close proximity the fans are to the field.

Citi Field in New York is also cool, especially since it’s modeled after Ebbets Field. Historically speaking, Progressive Field in Cleveland has one of the nicest stadiums. Take the time to go to their monuments park. The Indians have a long and under-appreciated history that shines inside their stadium (they also have Genny Cream cans!).

The Not So Best Ballparks in Baseball

So what’s the not so best ballpark in baseball? Well, there’s a few. While it’s no longer in use, Turner Field looked like a dump the last time I went there. Rusty interiors, nasty bathrooms, meager food options, and outrageous prices didn’t make it a fun place to go. I’ve heard better things about Sun Trust Park though. I got the worst sunburn on my legs at Comerica Park in Detroit in 2005. There’s almost no shade anywhere in that stadium. Plus it’s in Detroit.

I might get flack for this, but Wrigley Field isn’t all it’s made up to be. For starters, it doesn’t have a lot of character. The inside is dark. On a larger level though it reminds me of the U.S.S. Constitution. Both have a great and significant history, but they’re no longer what they originally were. The U.S.S. Constitution was built in 1797 but so much work has been done on the ship since then that only about 10-15% of the original ship remains. The same principle applies to Wrigley Field. It’s undergone so many renovations throughout its 104-year history that it hardly resembles what it once was, while Fenway Park’s retained much of its look. That doesn’t mean Wrigley Field isn’t a great place to see a ballgame. But there’s so much commercialism surrounding the ballpark that it takes something away from the aura. Their fanbase isn’t the nicest either.

So while Fenway Park is the best ballpark in baseball, I’d argue that the ballparks in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Cleveland rank up there pretty highly too.

Do Strikeouts Make Baseball Fun or Boring?

One of the may things that I love about pitching is the art of the strikeout. For some fans the lack of action equates to boredom. According to “Real or Not? Striking Examples of Failure Becoming a Turnoff,” Major League teams have averaged 8.72 strikeouts per game this season, a 1.01 increase from 2015, and 1.95 from 2008. “That means about four more strikeouts between both teams per game than we had a decade ago,” according to the same article. So do strikeouts make baseball fun or boring?

Back in 2016, my friend Chuck Fountain and I attended a Red Sox game. David Pricebaseball fun faced off against Baltimore Orioles’ pitcher Chris Tillman. Price was superb by striking out eleven in eight innings. But it wasn’t enough to overcome the 3-2 deficit. Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop hit home runs for the O’s while Jackie Bradley Jr. took Tillman deep in the seventh inning. Aside from those home runs, Fenway Park was pretty quiet that night. Looking around the stadium I noticed how bored a lot of fans looked. Chuck and I talked about it on the walk back to his car. We thought it’d been a very interesting game to watch because the pitching had been so strong. Price and Tillman had a combined eighteen strikeouts. Price and closer Craig Kimbrel didn’t even walk a single O’s batter. It wasn’t the home run derby that many fans look forward to, but for two baseball writers, it was like watching a duel between two skilled marksmen.

Do Strikeouts Make Baseball Fun? More Than You Think

Many baseball fans go to the ballpark hoping to see as many home runs as possible. Fewer fans though seem to appreciate the art of the strikeout. Fans complain about the pitch count, fouled off balls, and other aspects of an at-bat that can draw a game out. What they don’t understand though is that it’s not a drawn out affair as much as it’s a duel between a pitcher and a hitter, both of whom are trying to overpower the other. A skilled hitter will foul off ball after ball until he gets the pitch he wants. In the process he’s trying to wear out the pitcher. The same goes for the hitter. A skilled pitcher throws an arsenal of pitches that are designed to deceive the hitter. There isn’t a baseball fan who doesn’t already knows this, but it’s also something that many fans don’t seem to appreciate.

Instead of complaining about the lack of home runs, focus instead on the pitching duel that you see in every game. It’s a mental game between two of the top athletes in the world. That makes baseball fun for this writer!