Red Sox Prepare For Big Series vs. Yankees

The Red Sox ended a rather frustrating series with the Orioles Wednesday night, suffering a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Kevin Gausman. It was the second night in a row that Toronto lost and the Red Sox were unable to extend their divisional lead. The loss still keeps the Red Sox in first but does not leave them comfortable.

Both Toronto and New York lost Wednesday, making it a game the Sox must find a way toseries win right? Wrong. The league’s most potent offense was held to four hits to Kevin Gausman. If you can recall, Gausman has already lost twice to Boston this year. He also has a career ERA of almost 5.00 on the road. However, the Red Sox made him look like Roger Clemens in the series finale with his eight shutout innings. After scoring 23 runs in two games, the Sox have mustered just four in the last two games.

All that incompetence has made this upcoming series that much bigger in the AL East. The Red Sox will welcome the Yankees into Fenway for four games with their top spot uncertain. After years of being brushed with desolation, this rivalry may finally heat up like the “good ole days.” This series will finally be played with a purpose. Last month, this may have looked like another meaningless series. Oh, how things have changed.

Since taking two of three from the Red Sox in early August, the Yankees have been red hot. In fact, they have been one of the hottest teams in baseball. Once sellers at the deadline, the Bronx Bombers find themselves just two games out of the second Wild Card. Even with that depleted bullpen, the Yankees have found a way and come into Fenway winners of seven of their last ten.

The Keys To The Series

After a disappointing loss from Rick Porcello, the Red Sox turn to Eduardo Rodriguez Thursday night. Rodriguez has been great lately and has had success against the Yankees this year. The Red Sox will need a bounce-back start from Clay Buchholz as well on Friday. Finally, this gives David Price a chance to erase some demons against the Yankees this season as he has looked horrible against them in three starts.

So yes, it is fun to see a big series between the Red Sox and Yankees in September. However, it became more magnified only because the Red Sox blew a chance in the series against the Orioles. This is a real chance for Boston to feel comfortable in the division and make life hell for the Yankees in the final three weeks.

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.

Red Sox Retire Wade Boggs’ Number

On Thursday, May 26th, the Red Sox retire Wade Boggs’ jersey number 26 during a ceremony at Fenway Park. Boggs played for the Boston Red Sox from 1982 to 1992 before departing for the New York Yankees in 1993. During his time in Boston, Boggs won six Silver Slugger Awards (eight overall), was on seven all-star teams (12 overall). Boggs also played on the 1986 American League championship team that lost the World Series after a devastating error made in Game 6, leading the New York Mets to win Game 7 and the series. As the Red Sox retire Wade Boggs’ number, another legend is honored for his accomplishments.

Some aren’t happy that Boggs’ number is being retired for several reasons. First, BoggsRed Sox Retire Wade Boggs didn’t finish his career in Boston. In order to have your number retired by the Red Sox, you have to meet certain requirements, but in recent years those requirements have been ignored. The requirements include playing ten years for the Red Sox, be a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and retire from baseball as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Several players whose numbers are retired by the Red Sox do not meet those requirements. Pedro Martinez did not play for Boston for ten years, nor did he finish his career in Boston. Carlton Fisk finished his career in Chicago with the White Sox. Johnny Pesky isn’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame. If these are rules that former players have to follow, then why are they suddenly being discarded? Perhaps it’s time to discard the rules altogether and examine likely candidates on a case by case basis. That would make it much easier for Dwight Evans‘ number to also be retired.

Others are mad at Boggs because he played for the New York Yankees, our longtime rivals. Honestly, one can’t blame Boggs for leaving. Like any player in his position, Boggs wanted a World Series ring and frankly, the Boston Red Sox weren’t showing a level of skill that was going to get them to a World Series. Not to mention the Red Sox weren’t willing to give Boggs the contract he deserved to resign with the team in 1993. Boggs had many good years left in him, which he proved when he joined the Yankees, but the Red Sox refused to honor that, with Boggs being one of many good players the team has lost in years past. Let’s hope that lesson is something Dave Dombrowski keeps in mind when Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, and Brock Holt’s contracts end.

Another legend will join the ranks of Boston greats when the Red Sox retire Wade Boggs’ number on May 26th! The ceremony will start shortly before the 7:05 game against the Colorado Rockies.

Xander Bogaerts is the Best Shortstop in Baseball

Xander Bogaerts is the best shortstop in the league and is overlooked by many. He came up in the Sox system and people marked him as a guy who had a 30 homer bat. The power hasn’t been there up to this stage in his career but even if he doesn’t develop into a power hitter, Bogaerts is as good as it gets in the batters box in baseball. While teammate Jackie Bradley Jr. has a 27 game hitting streak, some may not know that Bogaerts hasXander Bogaerts best shortstop the second longest hitting streak in baseball at 16 games.

Bogaerts has recorded a hit in 28 of his last 30 games and leads the American League in batting average at .346. During his hit streak he is hitting .403 with five doubles, three homers and four RBI’s. The most impressive part of the streak is the three homers. While Bogaerts was tabbed as a guy who had power potential down on the farm, that power has never shown at the big league level.

Is Bogaerts the Best Shortstop?

Many said Bogaerts could eventually develop into a 30 homer bat at a shortstop position where that type of power is very hard to come by. To put it in perspective, the last time a shortstop hit 30 homers in a season was in 2011, done so by Troy Tulowitzki and J.J Hardy. If Bogaerts ends up hitting 30 homers in multiple seasons, he may end up being one of the best offensive shortstops ever to play the game. Still 23 years old, Bogaerts could end up hitting in the 20-25 homer range at best. I do not see that happening until at least 25 years old though as he continues to evolve as a major league hitter. If the power doesn’t develop, what is Bogaerts potential?

Sox fans may remember a guy named Derek Jeter. When watching Bogaerts hit all I can think of is Jeter. They both spray the ball all over the field and are extremely tough to get out. The most homers Jeter hit in a season was 24, done so in 1999, his fifth season in the big leagues. Bogaerts is in his fourth season this year and will likely finish around 15-20 homers. Jeter got off to a faster start in his major league career than Bogaerts but Bogaerts figured it out last season having a better third season than Jeter had.

The comparison to Jeter may come off as far fetched but having the luxury of watching both of them play has been awesome and they are both very similar hitters offensively. Bogaerts still has a lot of time to cement his own legacy in the game and his great season last year followed by his torrid start this season should have Sox fans excited as we may have the new Jeter wearing number two in a Sox uniform.

See Ortiz Hustle!

David Ortiz is playing his last season in baseball, but given the way he’s hustling you’d think he was a rookie trying to prove his worth to the team. To see Ortiz hustle harder than ever is making the Red Sox fun to watch again, especially after two grueling and hopeless seasons in the cellar. What’s even better is seeing Ortiz hustle out of the dugout to stand up for himself after a horrible call by home plate umpire Ron Kulpa, which contributed to the Sox loss to the Yankees in the first game of a three game series in New York.

Last July, John Farrell commented that he was disappointed that he wasn’t seeing Ortiz hustle as hard as he should. I wasOrtiz hustle glad to hear Farrell finally say something, as I too was disappointed in the lack of hustle Ortiz was showing on the base paths last year. He didn’t even attempt to out run groundouts, he seemed to drag his feet to and from the plate, and he always looked angry. But with a .313 batting average, 7 home runs, and 25 RBIs going into May 7th, many in the Red Sox Nation are in awe of Big Papi, who is not only leading the team in home runs, but seems to also be inspiring the rest of the team to play like their lives are on the line. But the best thing about Ortiz right now though is his intolerance for bad calls.

In a Friday night game against the Yankees on May 6th, Ortiz fervently protested a called strike three. Replays and angles show that the pitch was clearly a ball, but umpire Ron Kulpa thought otherwise, leading Ortiz to erupt in anger after returning to the dugout. John Farrell was thrown out too when he interjected himself between Ortiz and Kulpa in an effort to stand up for his designated hitter. Kulpa gave Oritz an arrogant and snide look as he and Farrell left the field, adding insult to injury. “Look, have you seen Miller’s numbers? [ don’t need no help,” Ortiz told The Boston Herald. “[Kulpa was] looking at me like I screwed up. I didn’t screw up.”

Even the most ardent Yankee fan would be hard pressed to agree that it was a strike (who knows though, they aren’t always the brightest). But one thing’s for sure. Seeing Ortiz hustle the way he has been is something that Red Sox fans haven’t seen in years, which is definitely rubbing off on the rest of the team as their bats heat up, too. With each passing day, I grow more confident that the Red Sox will make an appearance in the World Series this year.