Red Sox Take First Place Going Into May

“The Red Sox take first place.” That’s a headline Red Sox fans haven’t consistently seen since 2013. The Boston Red Sox took command of first place Sunday night in a win over the New York Yankees, sweeping their long time rivals in a three game series to edge out the Orioles in the American League East. It remains to be seen how long they can stay Red Sox take first placethere, but one thing is for sure: the Red Sox are a completely new and reinvigorated team.

The season started out with its fair share of problems. Pablo Sandoval’s weight made many question how much he’d be able to contribute to the team. Clay Buchholz fumbled out of the gate in April. And, like many times before, the team blew leads in late innings. But since traveling to Atlanta to take on the Braves in late April, the Red Sox have suddenly come alive. Dustin Pedrioa had a multiple home run game, including a grand slam off Pesky’s Pole. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit two triples against the Yankees. Rick Porcello is now 5-0 for the season. If the Red Sox continue with this streak, ticket demands and crowds at and around Fenway will swell, filling in the voids that I saw earlier in April.

Much of the reason as to why the Red Sox are suddenly on fire is likely because Pablo Sandoval hasn’t been around. It’s no secret that he’s been a drag for the team in more ways than one. After all, his bad juju had a bad affect on the team. While I’m also still not 100% sold on whether Farrell should stay or go, he’ll have much less to worry about if the Sox continue their tear, especially against the Chicago White Sox this week, who are holding onto a first place lead of their own in the American League Central.

Fans are filling their hearts with hope again as the Red Sox take first place. If we dare, we’ll keep that faith and hope to see them in the post-season.

Post-Season Experience of David Price Will Be Key to Championship

Last fall I got the opportunity to ask David Price a question via teleconference shortly after he signed his seven-year $217 million contract. Price hesitated after I asked him “What’s a question about your career that one’s asked you that you wish someone would ask?” before he talked about the questions he gets from coaches and teammates alike when he’s on the mound, and how everything he does gets put under a microscope. “I know what kind of pitcher I was from 2008-2011,” he added, “past three seasons I’ve made a lot of strides to take it to where I want to be and I have a ways to go.” David Price

Simple, humble, and constructive.

There’s no doubt that Price will be under a lot of pressure this year, especially if the Red Sox make it to the post-season. A quick glance at his post-season record shows a less-than-stellar record (2-7 with a 5.12 ERA). But it’s hard to blame him for his poor post-season performance, especially if you take a good look at some of his more recent games. In Game 2 of the 2015 ALCS, Price, then with Toronto, held Kansas City scoreless until the seventh inning when shortstop Ryan Goins fumbled a routine pop-up, igniting a rally that ended in a 6-3 Royals win. In Game 3 of the 2014 ALDS vs. Baltimore, Price pitched 6 scoreless innings before giving up a 2-run home run to Nelson Cruz. That wasn’t poor pitching as much as Detroit failed to produce the offense Price needed to win. And while he did give up a home run to David Ortiz in Game 2 of the 2013 ALDS in Boston, having his former adversary-turned-teammate at his side can now only be a boon to Price. But if the Red Sox can get it together season, Price will have an easier time avoiding anymore post-season blunders.

Will This Be the Best Year Ever for David Price?

The 5x All-Star, 2012 AL wins leader, 2014 strikeout leader, and 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner will have a well-seasoned team behind him this season with some wondering if this could be Price’s best year yet (It better be given how much he’s getting paid). If Ortiz comes close to matching last season’s numbers, Boegarts continues to hit well, and Pedroia stays healthy, Price will have the offensive support he’ll need for a 20-win season. Price can also count on seeing a lot of hits die in the gloves of defensive prodigies Xander Boegarts, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr.

I see David Price’s addition to the Red Sox as the missing piece of a puzzle that could very well make them into a semblance of the team we saw in 2004, 2007, and 2013. Even more so, the Red Sox Nation will have a man who’s worked hard to learn from his past mistakes, knows what he wants to accomplish this season, and recognizes that it’s going to take a lot of hard work to make that happen. If the Red Sox as a whole can keep themselves from sliding into an abyss of self-pity and remorse that fans saw all too often last season, if they can make fire out of the sparks that we hope to see this season, then we’ll see a team on fire, a blaze that can only be extinguished by the spraying champagne that will come after winning another World Series.

What Are Your Post-Season Traditions?

post-season traditions

A 2013 tradition that seems to have caught on with the players. Courtesy of rhogroupee.com

Here’s an interesting question as we head into the post season: what are your post-season traditions or superstitions? Are you going to rub the same rabbit’s foot you did in 2007, while sitting on your lucky barstool? Or will you just keep doing what you have been doing all throughout the 2013 regular season? Both have their benefits, as each person has their own way of celebrating, or helping to secure a win for the Red Sox. I think I am going to stick with this year’s regular season traditions. They seem to have worked, thus far, and they have provided me with as much benefit as they (may) have the Red Sox.

Number one, and perhaps, the most important tradition; I have been watching the games with family and friends in the comfort of our various homes. Number two, I read up and learned more about the statistical side of the game. I learned about Sabermetrics, ERAs, ABs, and BBs (how would anyone ever know that BB represents a “walk?”). I watched John Farrell work hard as a manager translating these numbers into wins. He is the manager of the year in my eyes. If the MLB does not see this, then they must be blind. From 69 wins in 2012 to 97 in 2013, that’s quite the turnaround. A turnaround made possible by Farrell putting the right players in the right positions, even if that meant changes on a daily basis.

Also, I spent more time around Fenway Park, thanks to my work with Yawkey Way Report. The investment in this organization allowed me to get more invested in the Red Sox organization. I am even on Yawkey Way when I do not need to be. As I work nearby, I have been known to take 3-4 mile runs mid-day, throughout the summer, to just be around the ballpark. It is such a different place when a game is not about to be played. It is quiet, calm. Still, the energy and history crackles in the air. It is an indescribable experience. Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, Babe Ruth, Wade Boggs, and Jason Varitek are all there with me as I run by, hoping to get back to work in under 20 minutes. Watching the food and delivery trucks pull up, and the Red Sox staff mill around at the gates, are all a small part of the preparations for the day’s game. I feel blessed as I run, listening to my music. I get the tingles, just as I do when I walk up the ramp, into the stands from the lower concourse with the beautifully manicured park in front of me.

post-season traditions

Courtesy of the author

This Red Sox regular season has been a gift, in so many ways for fellow fans, Red Sox players, and me. The opportunities were hard to imagine a year ago. Who would ever imagine that the Red Sox would clinch the AL East Division? Who knew I would interview minor league players, or sit in a minor and major league ballpark’s press box? Who knew that young, 20-somethings from the Portland Sea Dogs (our Double-A affiliate), would play on the grass at Fenway all in the same season? I was blessed to see Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. work their way up the system to live their baseball dreams. It is truly a pleasure to see such talented cream rise to the top.

So many great things happened this season that I know if I keep up my regular season traditions throughout the post season Boston will succeed. No rabbit’s feet and definitely no barstools for me. I’ve got a whole season of experience that proves that I am doing everything right by this team. Let’s go, Sox! Let’s go all the way.

Wildcard Baseball Standings Confuse, Writer Dangerously Close to a Pink Hat

wildcard baseball standings

September wildcard baseball standings start to resemble golf or one of those scary algebra classes from high school. I swear there are imaginary numbers involved, but the sports people like to call them magic numbers. Did I mention how uncomfortable I am with math, and that my dear brother and I did not discuss this during any of the prior seasons in the last 30 years? He actually admitted to me tonight that he doesn’t fully “get it” either. He’s a card-carrying male that works with numbers daily in finance. Seriously?!

Here is an example that reminds me of golf. Team A is +1, team B is 0, and team C is -1 in the wildcard race. Huh? Where is Ernie Els when you need him for something other than a crossword puzzle answer? Meanwhile, our Boston Red Sox are sitting pretty having won the Division, so technically we do not have to worry about this stuff, right? Please tell me I’m right.  No, John Farrell and the team have to at least think about these teams. They must prepare for whatever it is that may come their way.  To add to the confusion the standings change every day, as do the “magic numbers.”

wildcard baseball standings pink hatAcross the American League, teams look to win games to clinch a shot to play other teams to get to the playoffs, and ultimately, the World Series. Most likely, for the American league, Cleveland, Tampa, and Texas are vying to get their regular season wins high enough to fight for a spot to play in the wildcard game. Am I getting close? Gosh, I feel like such a dumb girl today! Any minute now, some man in black will probably come over and revoke my blue Red Sox hat, only to give me a pink one.

Let’s see if I can redeem myself before I lose my future career in sports writing. Tampa and Cleveland will probably earn the wildcards for the American League. These two teams will be nip and tuck for the rest of the regular season. The only variable is the difficulty of the schedule Cleveland and Tampa have ahead of them in the next few days. If one of the two teams fails, Texas may step up and have a shot.

Okay, I’m going to go play with my Barbies, paint my nails, and get this girlie stuff out of my system. Then I plan on putting on my blue Red Sox cap, and hitting the stats websites hard. I can figure this out.