The Chris Sale Ticket is the Best Since Pedro

The overlying bright spot of the Red Sox season so far has been the utter electricity of Chris Sale. His pace, stuff and attitude make the Chris Sale ticket at Fenway the hottest since the Pedro Martinez days.

Part of Boston’s recent love affair with Sale has been the similarities between he and Pedro.Chris Sale ticket Both came with plenty of hype. Sale came in December as the established number one pitcher in the American League. Both have war-like intensity on and off the mound. Pedro threw down 72-year old Don Zimmer and Sale cut up the entire team’s throwback jerseys he didn’t want to wear. Both live on the inside corner like the second coming of Bob Gibson. And both are good. Like, really good.

Sale vs Pedro

In the first month of his Red Sox tenure, Chris Sale has been near unhittable. He has tied the record for most strikeouts through his fist six starts with a new team. He has 63, leading the major leagues. Whose record did he tie? Some guy named Randy Johnson; you may have heard of him. While the offense supporting him has sucked, he has been nothing short of remarkable. With only a 2-2 record, he has a 1.38 ERA and leads the league in innings pitched.

But it wasn’t just Pedro’s numbers that made his ticket so coveted—it was the perfect storm that came with all his starts. On days Pedro started, Fenway was the center of the baseball world. The stands were littered with Dominican flags, “K” signs covered the back rows of the bleachers, and every fan stood with feverish anticipation whenever a batter had two strikes on him. With the pink hats and corporate atmosphere of Fenway today, Chris Sale is as close as we are going to get to that.

Chris Sale Ticket Brings Eexcitement and the Unexpected

When Sale is pitching, you don’t really know what to expect. You know he’ll work quickly and strike out everyone in the lineup, which makes things exciting. You don’t know, however, what kind of history or animosity he’ll bring. Just Tuesday night, he lit the park up by throwing behind new public enemy number one: Manny Machado. Not only did Sale send a message, he proceeded to strike him out. In fact, he struck out the first five batters he faced and went into the sixth inning without allowing a hit. Right now, Sale is the most entertaining pitcher to watch in the sport. Not the AL, the sport.

For me and most Red Sox fans I know, the anticipation for Sale’s starts are unrivaled. People around me must be getting sick of seeing me in my Sale shirt every fifth day. I can’t help it, I haven’t seen a Red Sox starter as electrifying as him. We’ve seen some good ones since Pedro, but none that were ‘must-see TV’. Schilling, Lester, Beckett, and Porcello have had great runs, but nothing like Pedro. Watching Schilling, Lester or even Beckett in the post-season was enthralling, but nothing like it in the regular season. None of those guys could pull eyes away from a Celtics playoff game. Chris Sale has and will continue to do so.

Granted, it has only been a little over a month of Chris Sale in Boston. He has brought back the glory days of intense, bulldog starters for the Red Sox. If this continues, he is finally the next in line of the Roger Clemens/Pedro Martinez gamers in Red Sox uniforms. I don’t care what the Red Sox have to do, but please keep this guy here as long as possible. With him, I see rings, Cy’s and Cooperstown.

Long live Chris Sale! Thank you for bringing that excitement back.

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.

Hanley Ramirez Deserves More Praise

Entering the season, Hanley Ramirez caused plenty of debate across New England. After signing a four-year, $88 million deal to rejoin the Red Sox, Ramirez delivered a sub-par season in 2015, leading many to question his future in Boston. Hanley hit just .249 last year with 19 home runs and only 12 doubles. He was also one of the worst defenders in baseball, as judged by a slew of metrics. Therefore, little was expected of him entering 2016.

Hanley Ramirez

Unlike his under-performing sidekick Pablo Sandoval, Ramirez was willing to make sacrifices to prolong his Red Sox career. Hanley recommitted to a winter training program and agreed to move positions yet again. First base became his new home and fans at least appreciated the effort. Nevertheless, few dared expect anything other than league average performance at best in 2016, with many bracing for something far worse. Thus, his strong resurgence in recent months has been a pleasant surprise.

The Resurgence of Hanley Ramirez

With David Ortiz soaking up much of the attention, Hanley Ramirez has found the time and space to rediscover himself. While the power numbers of old may never return, Ramirez has been a steady contributor at the plate. As August rounds into view, he’s currently hitting .283 with 11 home runs and 54 RBI. Ramirez has already surpassed his RBI total from last season with over two months remaining, while his on-base percentage has risen by seventy points.

Defensively, Hanley has also been decent. He ranks fifteenth among first basemen in Ultimate Zone Rating and has made only three errors all season. Of course, first base isn’t the most demanding of positions, especially for a former shortstop, but what Hanley Ramirez is currently providing far exceeds what many expected from him. And that should be praised.

Aside from the numbers, Ramirez just seems to have rediscovered some of his old spark. In one game this week, he hit three mammoth home runs, becoming the first Red Sox player to do so at Fenway Park since Kevin Millar in 2004. Those moments of inspiration may still be fleeting for Hanley Ramirez, but they’re far more frequent than last season and are now backed by a solid baseline performance.

Is Hanley Ramirez an elite player right now? No, probably not. A Wins Above Replacement score of 1 ranks him thirteenth among first baseman. The Red Sox are still destined to overpay grossly on this contract. However, it’s impossible to overstate the improvement from last season, when Fangraphs WAR adjudged him to be the third-worst position player in baseball.

Why Hanley Ramirez Deserves More Support

On a spiritual level, Hanley Ramirez deserves our appreciation here. With criticism poring in from every quarter, he identified and made the necessary changes to justify his continued inclusion on this team. When everybody doubted him, Ramirez swallowed some pride and worked hard to win back support. Deep down we must admire that from a human standpoint. The guy has worked his butt off to make Red Sox Nation happy, and that effort should be acknowledged.

We were all quick to chastise Hanley Ramirez when things didn’t go well, and perhaps he deserved it. Even now, nothing is perfect, and there are still flaws in the game of a man paid to be flawless. But instead of getting carried away and looking too far back or forward, we should take some time to stay in the moment and appreciate his determination to salvage some respectability.

Sox Fans Drinking The Kool Aid

Sox fans drinking the kool aid

Some Red Sox fans are drinking the Kool Aid after winning for the eighth time in nine games, as of July 21st, by clobbering the Toronto Blue Jays 14-1. The offense has come alive as of late, which hasn’t happened all season. The lowest point for this team was probably the sweep by the Theo Epstein led Cubs before the All-Star Break.

There are now currently four teams ahead of the Sox in the East, but at least they are out of last place. They climbed up to being seven games back in the division. At one point the Sox were 10.5 games out, so at this point Red Sox fans should be happier about things. Now before everyone says big frickin’ deal and that this win streak has come at the hands of some bad teams…HOLD ON! The Jays were the first place team for a while and currently sit 3.5 games back. When you look at things, this division is weak, so anything is possible.

As Red Sox fans hate to bring up 2011, look at the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals of that year. The Atlanta Braves were up on Wild Card lead by 10.5 games ahead of the Cardinals on August 24. Yes I said August 24th, and the Cardinals came all the way back to win the Wild Card and World Series that year! Now I am not saying this will happen to the Red Sox, but don’t count them out quite yet as we are still in July with a full August and September to go. Now if the Sox are seven games out in September, I will be writing a different story and singing a different tune.

Should the Sox be buyers or sellers at this point? They should be partial sellers, trading away Jake Peavy so Brandon Workman and Ruby De La Rosa can stick around full-time in the rotation. Keep playing the kids—such as Christian Vazquez who is going to be a star in this league one day. If some other trades make sense to get some young talent back, go ahead, but I wouldn’t strip the bullpen down as it may still come in handy down the stretch.

So bottoms up everyone!