Believing in Brian Johnson

The old expression is “You gotta believe.” For pitcher Brian Johnson, believing he can assist the Red Sox in the bullpen is something for which he is responsible. Throughout his career, Johnson has gone through a roller coaster ride – from spot starts, to coming out of the bullpen for Boston. Looking for a greater role in 2019 will be interesting for Johnson.

On May 27th, 2017, Red Sox pitcher Brian Johnson did something that hasn’t been done in a Red Sox uniform since Pedro Martinez. Johnson pitched a complete game shut out against the Seattle Mariners. Where was I? Well, I was sitting in the bleachers, a few rows back from the bullpen, watching as Johnson threw strike after strike. The game lasted a little over two hours, which was remarkable.

For the guy who is like the underdog in the Red Sox organization, Johnson has been a constant presence in the Red Sox organization. For manager Alex Cora, relying on the veteran last season was key to the success this team had going into the postseason. Johnson had career highs in game appearances, as well as innings pitched.

From Starter to Reliever Back to Starter

Throughout his career in a Red Sox uniform, Johnson has been a spot starter for the Red Sox. In his 48 MLB appearances, only 19 of them have been starts. Johnson is 7-6 in his career, with a lifetime ERA of 4.69.

Following an injury to Clay Buchholz in 2015, Johnson was called up from Pawtucket, and made his MLB debut on July 21st of that season. He pitched in 4.1 innings in a loss to the Houston Astros. That game was the only one he would play in during the 2015 season, as he was sent back to Pawtucket.

The next time Johnson saw Major League action was in 2017. In that game, he pitched that remarkable shut out against the Seattle Mariners. Following that, he made four more starts for the Red Sox, going 2-0 with a 4.33 ERA.

In 2018, Cora used Brian Johnson quite a bit. He pitched in 38 games, while making 13 starts. Johnson went 4-5 with a 4.17 ERA last season, however, he was not added to the postseason roster.

Johnson, who is currently on the injured list, is part of the 2019 team. So far, he has pitched 4 games out of the bullpen, with all those games being on the road. On Opening Day at Fenway, Johnson was presented with his first championship ring. It was well earned too, due to the work he did during the 2018 season.

Can We Call Brian Johnson The Underdog?

For a guy whose career has been up and down, Johnson has been a consistent presence in the Red Sox organization. I think that he will continue to surprise us all when he runs out of the bullpen. Johnson has the ability to dominate in games. It’s just a matter of trust in his pitches.

Many might disagree when I say that Johnson is the secret weapon in the bullpen. However, when you look at what he has been able to accomplish and overcome in his life, he is truly one of the good guys.

Chris Sale, the Red Sox Ace of the Future

On Opening Day, the Red Sox ace, Chris Sale, will be on the mound. For Sale, this is the second time that he is opening for Alex Cora and the Red Sox. He currently joins a select group of Red Sox pitchers who have started in Opening Day, from Babe Ruth, to Rick Porcello.

Nearing the end of Spring Training, more good news came for Chris Sale when he signedRed Sox ace a five year contract extension to stay with the Red Sox. Sale, who went 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA in 158 innings last season, deserved this contract extension. So far in his career, he is 103-32 with a 2.89 ERA through 9 seasons.

Red Sox Ace, Chris Sale

The former Chicago White Sox ace has fit in nicely since being acquired by the Red Sox prior to the 2017 season. His resume keeps improving, and in his first season in Boston he started out with a bang. Sale struck out 10 or more batters in a row for eight consecutive games, which is tied for the major league record. He also led the majors with 308 strikeouts. His efforts on the mound have caught the eye of many over the years, and this was no different. Boston finally got its well deserved ace in Sale.

In Chicago, Chris Sale was known to wear the number 49. However, after being traded to Boston, he changed it to number 41, out of respect to former Red Sox pitcher, Tim Wakefield. For those who were fans of the knuckleballer, this was a great display of respect from Sale.

At the rate he is going, one can only wonder if #41 will be up in the rafters alongside other Red Sox greats, and the only other pitcher, Pedro Martinez.

Another Year, Another Sale Day

For those who follow the Boston Red Sox on social media, you’re well aware of the Sale Day hashtag. Now, we get to see it until the end of the 2024 season. The Condor, as he is known, is looking to continue to make history on the mound. Being able to play in Boston is part of that history.

In the 2018 postseason, his second in his career, Sale pitched in Game One of both the ALDS and the ALCS, as well as Game One of the World Series. Sale also did something else remarkable in the World Series as well – closing out Game 5 to seal the deal in LA. Who was the last pitcher to start Game 1 then close out the final game? Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants in the 2014 World Series.

What will this season bring to those glorious Sale Days that we long live for? For many, it’s another chance to watch the strikeout machine at work. At 29 years old, the sky’s the limit for Sale. So far, he has been selected to 7 straight All-Star games, and has led the American League in strikeouts twice. in 2017, Sale became the fastest pitcher to record 1,500 strikeouts, and he is 211 away from 2,000.

Another goal for Red Sox ace Sale – To win another World Series in Boston…

Pedro Martinez Hosts Charity Event

Former Boston Red Sox ace and World Series champion Pedro Martinez headlined thePedro Martinez “Rally for 45 fundraisers”, speaking about he and wife, Carolina’s, charity the ‘Pedro Martinez Foundation’. The fundraiser was held at ‘Hurricanes’ bar in Boston, on Sunday, April 15th. All proceeds raised during the event will go towards Pedro’s charity.

The charity benefits children in the Dominican Republic, Pedro’s native country, by providing them with food, getting an education, job training and more. Pedro came to Boston, his “second home”, to speak to the media about his charity, before the Boston Marathon. A tradition Martinez and Carolina hold near to their heart.

“Well, you know, Boston to me is my second home,” said Martinez. “I’m trying to raise money with everything Boston does. The marathon is no exception. I was a runner myself when I was a player. I was a big fan of running. The Boston Marathon is part of the tradition and the culture in Boston.

‘Hurricanes’ had memorabilia at the event that was auctioned off. Notable memorabilia consisted of a signed Lionel Messi jersey, a framed autographed portrait of both Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, a “Boston’s Best” autographed photo of both Tom Brady and David Ortiz and much more.

Pedro Martinez Talks Charity and Baseball

Martinez spoke adamantly of how much Carolina has helped with the charity.

“The biggest reason why we have these kids do well in society, is because of her,” Martinez said. “She is the heart and soul with what we have done. She’s the one that’s always in the middle of it. Its like when you go into a fight in baseball, she’s the catcher. The one who has your back. the one that holds the guy low, so that he doesn’t hit you. That’s my wife.

Pedro spoke on what it’s like working with the kids involved in his charity.

“That’s our reward (on charity work)”, said Pedro. “To see these kids develop into better human beings, better men, better women in society, this is really why you make the effort to go the extra mile. You see them develop and become professionals.”

Martinez Thoughts on Red Sox

“I was glad to see the little fire between the two teams (Red Sox and Yankees), said Martinez. “It brings back memories of my time when I was playing in Boston. It was good to see us stand up in front of the Yankees and actually compete with them the same time.

Pedro seems encouraged with how the Red Sox have done under new manager Alex Cora.

“I’m extremely excited about the team has started. Between working early on in spring training, with all those guys. And to keep them healthy. That has been the biggest reason why we are off to a good start. I think the team has all the tools to compete with any team in the big leagues. And we are confident, if we stay healthy, we are going to be in it with everybody.

To find more information regarding the charity and how to get involved, visit www.pedromartinezcharity.com

Quotes credited to Pedro Martinez foundation “Rally for 45” charity fundraiser

Rays Not The Same Without Evan Longoria

The Boston Red Sox opened the 2018 season at Tampa Bay by taking 3-of-4 games against the Rays. While the Rays were paying tribute to the 1998 inaugural team, they were doing so without Evan Longoria.

The Rays were one franchise before Longoria and a completely different one during his decade long tenure at Tropicana Field. In Tampa Bay’s first 10 years in MLB, they were known as the Devil Rays and their lone highlight was Wade Boggs hitting a home runs for his 3,000 hit.

Longoria made his MLB debut in 2008. The Rays, dropped the “Devil” and clinched their first winning season, division title, and World Series appearance. The Rays were on the other side of the Red Sox’s 2011 “chicken and beer” collapse. Their last playoff appearance was a ALDS loss to the Red Sox in 2013 but they were close to returning last year.

Longoria is a career .270 hitter who led the Rays with 261 career home runs and 892 RBI. He was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Denard Span and a crop of prospects. Span hit a clutch 3-run RBI triple to cap off a 6-run eighth inning, leading the Rays to a 6-4, come from behind, Opening Day win.

The Rays also shed a lot of their power by trading Corey Dickerson to Pittsburgh and letting Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda walk in free agency. They will once again look to rely on pitching and defense. The Rays lost three straight games against the Red Sox despite holding them to three runs or less each game.

Longoria, meanwhile, went hitless in his first series with the Giants. But that hardly makes the trade a big victory for Tampa Bay.

Red Sox-Rays Is An Underrated Rivalry

The Rays began in 1998 but it seemed like it didn’t take long for the franchise to choose Boston as their rival.

The two teams were initially linked when legendary third baseman Wade Boggs christened the franchise’s arrival to MLB in 1998 and capped his Hall of Fame career with a home run as his 3,000 career hit in 1999. He wears a Red Sox cap in his HOF plaque but originally wanted a Rays cap.

The battles truly began in 2000, when Pedro Martinez beaned Gerald Williams and started a brawl. The Rays were in the midst of their first winning season in 2008 and established themselves as a legit contender in a fight that had Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp dodge a punch thrown by Rays pitcher James Shields like he was in the Matrix. Their most recent scuffle came in 2014, when David Price was still the Tampa Bay ace. Price joined the Red Sox in 2016 and patched things up with David Ortiz.

The Rays and Red Sox will face off at the Boston home opener in Fenway Park this afternoon.

 

Are the Red Sox Retiring Jersey Numbers Too Soon?

Red Sox Nation saw David Ortiz’s number 34 retired during a pre-game ceremony Friday night. His number retirement came eight months after his actual retirement. It also marked the third time the Red Sox retired a number in as many years. So are the Red Sox retiring jersey numbers too soon?

Three years ago I thought it was strange that the Red Sox hadn’t retired many numbersred sox retired with its long and rich history. In fact, they only started the practice in the early 1980s. Before 2015 the Red Sox had only seven retired numbers. Since 2015 they’ve retired three. In fact, the Red Sox broke their own jersey retirement rules to induct the last three. So what does this mean? Are they trying to play catch up, or are they trying to make up lost revenue?

Is Attendance A Factor In The Decision To Retire Numbers?

According to Baseball-reference.com, the Red Sox averaged 3,008,355 fans per season between 2007 and 2013. Between 2014 and 2016 the Red Sox averaged 2,930,739 fans each season. That’s a drop off of 77,616 over three years. According to an April 2016 article on Fortune.com titled “Here’s How Much a Baseball Game Will Cost You This Year,” it costs a fan about $78.50 to attend a game at Fenway Park in 2016. That includes tickets, food, beverages, and parking. So let’s say for argument’s sake that the 77,616 drop in attendance equates to a loss of $78.50 per fan. That comes to a loss of $6,092,856 over three years. Of course, it’s easy to manipulate those numbers, but no matter how you crunch them it’s bad for the Red Sox.

Seeing The Red Sox Retiring Boggs’ Number Was A Little Awkward

It made sense to retire Pedro Martinez’s number. He helped carry the Red Sox to their first World Series championship in 2004. But Wade Boggs? Yes, his time with the Red Sox made him a legend. But Boggs left Boston for New York where he won his only World Series Championship in 1998. In fact, he wore his Yankee World Series ring to his jersey retirement ceremony at Fenway Park much to the irk of many. While fans liked seeing the much-beloved Boggs’ number retired, it made other wonder why now? Why him? Was it an effort to bring older fans back to the ballgame so they could reignite their love for the game? Was it an effort to get its younger fanbase to tap into the rich history of the Red Sox? No matter how you dice it retiring Boggs’ number came off as awkward.

Are the Red Sox Retiring Numbers Too Soon?

So are the Red Sox retiring numbers too soon, or are they truly trying to honor their legends? Or are they trying to make up for lost revenue? The Red Sox have a staggering payroll and losing $6 million equates to about six or seven of their players making between $500-600,000 a year. No matter how you look at it, the frequency in retiring numbers does give true fans pause about how sincere the intentions are.

The Red Sox Teach Us a Lot About Defeat

This is not a political post. I’m not here to discuss politics. However, the election made me think about surprise victories and harsh defeats. I then reflected on the Red Sox vast history of victories and defeats. So what can the Red Sox teach us about the two? In many cases, it comes down to luck.

The Red Sox Teach Us About Humility

Let’s start with Ted Williams. In 1946 the Red Sox clinched the pennant and faced the St.Red Sox Teach Louis Cardinals in the World Series. A cocky Ted Williams looked forward to adding a championship title to his list of accolades. Williams, along with the rest of the Red Sox, did not consider what the Cardinals had up their sleeve. The Cardinals instituted The Williams Shift where most of their infield shifted to the right of second base making it awfully difficult for Williams to hit a ball to right field. It worked. Hitting only .200 for the series, Williams called it “the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me.” After the Sox lost, Williams locked himself in his train compartment headed back to Boston. “I just broke down and started crying, and I looked up and there was a whole crowd of people watching me through the window.”

The Red Sox Teach Us That Defeat Can Be Snatched From Victory

The 1946 World Series loss marked the beginning of a string of bad luck for the Red Sox. Favored to win again in 1967, the Red Sox didn’t count on the phenomenal pitching of Bob Gibson, who recorded a 1.12 ERA the following season. The Red Sox gave it their all in 1975 but a victorious and memorable Game 6 left the team too worn to win Game 7. The 1986 World Series, however, is a different story.

Every Red Sox fan knows what happened in Game 6. The words “Behind the bag!” echo harshly in the ear drums of those who dare to remember. While Bill Buckner’s error didn’t exactly blow it for the Red Sox, it’s what everyone remembers. Fortunately, fans have since forgiven Buckner, but not before enduring one more boner before finally clinching victory in 2004.

The Red Sox Teach Us It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

Yankee Stadium. The 2003 American League Championship Series. After eight innings, a worn Pedro Martinez said he felt good. So despite manager Grady Little’s concerns, Martinez stayed in Game 7. Their 5-2 lead gave Little the confidence that the game was in the bag. Unfortunately, Martinez quickly went south and the Yankees won. Stunned Red Sox fans could only shake their heads and wait.

A year later, despite being down three games to the Yankees, the Red Sox won four straight to proceed to the World Series. This time they got revenge for the ghosts of 1946 by beating the St. Louis Cardinals. The Curse of the Bambino was finally dead.

When I look at all this history, there’s something Bill Buckner once said that is important to remember, “Baseball is a game of averages, but over a short period of time, to have a little luck going is not a bad thing.” Why is this quote important? Because it shows us that when we feel like we’re just average, there’s nothing keeping us from taking advantage of a little luck. Many of us are trying to move on from recent events, but if the Red Sox teach us one thing, it’s that no matter how dark things look, we’ll always have a chance to take advantage of a little luck when it presents itself.