The Red Sox Owe Jim Rice More Respect

Jim Rice played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox from 1974 to 1989. He was an 8-time All-Star and American League MVP in 1978. After years of waiting, Rice finally received induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 in his final year of eligibility. Some argue that Rice isn’t a Hall of Famer because his numbers fall just below the unofficial standard. Others argue Rice’s induction took too long and his numbers prove his worth. Regardless of what you might think, the Red Sox owe Jim Rice more respect, especially after retiring so many other numbers in the last three years.

The Red Sox used to have three rules to retire a number. 1) Play ten years with the RedRed Sox Owe Jim Rice Sox. 2) Retire as a Red Sox player. 3) Be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Jim Rice is one of the few players who actually fulfilled all three requirements. In fact, he was the last to fulfill all those requirements. Since then they’ve retired Pedro Martinez, Wade Boggs, and David Ortiz’s jersey numbers. None of those three players fulfilled the requirements.

I’m not saying that there’s a retired number that doesn’t belong up there. But why did Jim Rice have to wait so long while other players got ushered to the front of the line? Few other players hustled harder than Rice did. It’s easy to look at his numbers and say that they’re good but not great. But it’s impossible to quantify Rice’s contributions to the game. He helped lead the Red Sox to the World Series in 1975 (an injury kept him out of play) and also in 1986. Additionally, Rice is one of only two players to lead the American League in both triples and home runs in one season. On top of that, he is still the only player who has ever led the majors in triples, home runs and RBIs in the same season.

Red Sox Owe Jim Rice An Apology

The fact that Jim Rice waited so long to see his number retired while others didn’t is becoming the white elephant in the room. While you can argue that players like Ted Williams and Joe Cronin waited too, the Red Sox didn’t actually start retiring numbers until 1984, and their numbers were among the first to get retired.

Jim Rice paid his dues. He waited patiently not only to see his number retired, but to get inducted into the Hall of Fame. The Red Sox insulted the man by making him jump hoops. They took those hoops away though from Pedro Martinez, Wade Boggs, and David Ortiz. Boggs jumped ship to the Evil Empire. He even had the nerve to wear his Yankee World Series ring to his ceremony!

Red Sox Owe Jim Rice A Statue Too

At the very least, the Red Sox could erect a statue for Jim Rice. Or they could name something in Fenway after him. No matter what, the Red Sox owe Jim Rice something to make up for the way they shafted him. He stayed loyal to Boston when he could have left for more money.

The Idleness of Clemens’ Number 21

As I cover college baseball games this weekend in Waco, Texas, my attention is drawn Roger Clemensaway from the 10 players on the field. The Texas Longhorns are in town, which means, for the only time all season, I am more focused on the parents section. I’m looking for a certain number 21.

Penciled in the Longhorn lineup at both DH and First Base is a familiar name: Clemens. With the potential to meet their dad, Roger, this weekend, it got me thinking about one of the most tumultuous careers in baseball history. Roger Clemens will always go down as a Red Sox legend, but would you guess that his number is retired?

No, you wouldn’t. Nestled on the facade in Fenway Park’s right field lies 10 retired numbers, but not number 21. What you might not know, however, is that 30 Red Sox wore that number before the Rocket, but none since. Are the Red Sox hiding behind their own tradition?

For over a decade, Clemens was revered in Boston. From 1984-1996, the Rocket racked up 192 wins, tying him for the franchise record. Whom is he tied with? A guy by the name of Cy Young—you may have heard of him. Clemens knows him well, winning the Cy Young award three times in Boston as well as an American League MVP award in 1986. He was the unequivocal ace who led the Red Sox to the World Series that year as well. Before he came to Boston, no one had struck out 20 batters in a game. By the time he left, he had done it twice. It wasn’t Clemens’ time in Boston that made him a villain, it was his time away.

After Dan Duquette’s prognostication of his demise, Clemens went to division rival Toronto. It was his time north of the border where things became fishy. After injuries wore down his final few sub-par years in Boston, Clemens began to defy logic. Even as he aged, he was recovering even faster from these injuries and was pitching as well as ever. In two seasons with Toronto, he won the Cy Young Award both years and earned the elusive pitching Triple Crown each season.

To further push the buttons of Red Sox fans, Clemens traded in his Jays uniform for pinstripes. As a Yankee, he won four AL Pennants, two World Series titles, and the Cy Young yet again in 2001. After a combined record of 27-18 in his first two seasons in New York, he went 20-3 in 2001. Coincidentally enough, it was revealed his trainer Brian McNamee was injecting him with anabolic steroids at the time. Now, it’s no wonder Clemens was always butt hurt.

Why The Fans Don’t Want To See The Number 21

The final middle finger to Red Sox Nation came in the winter of 2005. Upon Curt Schilling’s endorsement, the Red Sox were in the sweepstakes to sign Clemens as a free agent. In a little-known attempt to bring him back, a third grade class in Rockland, MA, made a video for the Clemens family. In it, the kids begged him to “come home, Roger”, apparently bringing his wife to tears. At the end of the video, a number 21 was glowing on that right field facade, if the Rocket were to re-enter Boston’s atmosphere. Instead, Clemens re-signed with Houston and in 2007, ended his career with a return to New York.

Once revered in Boston, Clemens is now reviled. His number 21 is retired only at Disch-Faulk Field at the University of Texas. While there, Clemens was the ace for their 1983 National Championship team. No, I think it’s gonna be a long, long time till we see Clemens’ number up there with Williams and Yastrzemski. It won’t take touchdown to bring us round again to find he most certainly is the man he is at home. Sir Elton John will not be doing any serenading over the Fenway speakers any time soon. For all the things Clemens has done to Boston fans on and off the field has certainly made the Rocket public enemy number 21.

 

Dwight Evans’ Number Should Be Retired Too

I was happy when the Boston Red Sox announced that they would retire Wade Boggs’ jersey number 26 this year. Boggs played in Boston for ten years but departed in 1993 for the  Yankees in New York before finally being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005 with 91.9% of the vote on the first ballot. There’s no question as to whether Dwight EvansBoggs’ number should be retired, but it will only be the ninth number ever retired by the Red Sox (excluding Jackie Robinson’s number 42, whose number was universally retired across Major League Baseball in 1997). When you look at the fact that the St. Louis Cardinals have retired twelve numbers, and the New York Yankees have retired eighteen, it makes you wonder if the Red Sox are being too conservative in choosing whose numbers to retire, especially Dwight Evans’ number 24.

The Boston Red Sox have three requirements for a player’s number to be retired: be in the Hall of Fame, have played at least ten years in Boston, and finish their career with the Red Sox (though that rule has been relaxed in recent years). Only five of the current players whose numbers are retired meet these requirements; Johnny Pesky isn’t in the Hall of Fame, while Pedro Martinez didn’t play a full ten years in Boston and, along with Carlton Fisk, finished his career elsewhere. These exceptions should pave the way for Dwight Evans.

Dwight Evans By the Numbers

Let’s take a look at his numbers. While Dwight Evans isn’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame, his numbers reflect a career worthy of induction. He was a three-time All-Star, eight-time Gold Glove winner, led the league at least once in on-base percentage, runs, total bases, home runs, and walks. He ranks in the top 50 all time in games played (2,606), home runs (385), and walks (1,391). Evans also hit four home runs on opening days in his career, including one on the very first pitch of the season. What Evans might best be remembered for is the unbelievable catch he made in right field during Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Evans robbed the Reds’ Joe Morgan of a possible home run, leading the stunned Cincinnati Reds’ manager Sparky Anderson to say, “It was an outstanding catch. The best catch I’ve ever seen.” Given his offensive numbers, his exceptional defensive skills, and his overall dependability, Evans’ number 24 should be retired alongside Boggs’.

The Red Sox should take a closer look at what numbers they are overlooking for retirement, starting with Dwight Evans. He played his heart out every day he wore a Red Sox uniform and the man deserves no less.

Pedro Martinez Gets his Number Retired

You can say what you want about the Red Sox struggles on the field, but the one thing they can do is throw a ceremony. Whether it’s raising a championship banner, or honoring an ex-player as they did Tuesday night with Pedro Martinez, they do a very good job of throwing a celebration.

Last night it was Pedro Martinez’s turn to get honored after being formally inducted into the Pedro MartinezHall of Fame on Sunday. Before the game Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox, the now-Hall of Fame pitcher had his number retired by the Red Sox. Pedro joins Ted Williams, Johny Pesky, Carlton Fisk, Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Jim Rice, and Carl Yastrzemski as the only Red Sox players with their numbers retired. Illustrious company, to say the least, when it comes to Red Sox history. He also joins Jackie Robinson up there, who’s number 42 is retired throughout baseball.

As for the ceremony itself, which I was lucky enough to attend, it started with a countdown of career stats on the center field screen. This included, but not limited to, his career win-loss record, strikeouts, and much more. It also involved visits and presentations from ex-teammates Orlando Cabrera, Trot Nixon, Curt Schilling, Ralph Avila—who first discovered Pedro Martinez and his brother Ramon, and former Expos manager Felipe Alou who managed the team that Pedro first rose to prominence on. The best one, though, at least in my mind, was when Pedro called out Jason Varitek ahead of schedule. Varitek was supposed to come out to catch the first pitch, but Pedro called him ahead of schedule in very Pedro-esque fashion, stating that it was his party.

After his number was unveiled below the right field roof deck, the ceremony ended with a video highlight tribute, again shown on the center field screen, set to the song “Hall of Fame” by The Script, which was a great way to cap off another remarkably well put together ceremony by the Red Sox. It sure gave me chills, and it also succeeded in making me forget the struggles of the Red Sox at the present moment.

At least, that is, until the actual game started. The Red Sox ended up losing to the White Sox behind a 9-run outburst and a great outing by White Sox pitcher Jeff Samarzdjia. A late rally in the 9th would fall well short, but the Red Sox never really stood a chance, not with the way the team has been playing this year.

Oh, well. At least the ceremony for Pedro Martinez was worth the price of admission, even if the actual game wasn’t.

Remembering the Career of Pedro Martinez

Forget the negatives of a terrible season for now. Let’s talk about Pedro Martinez for a second. Earlier this year, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and the Red Sox will be honoring him with a special ceremony on Tuesday before they take on the Chicago White Sox. The ceremony will invlolve Pedro getting his number retired by the Red Sox organization, among other things.

Pedro will be formally inducted over the weekend in Cooperstown, which should give Red Pedro Martinez HOFSox fans some reason to smile. Pedro Martinez spent 7 years here in Boston, won a World Series in 2004, and created a lot of memories along the way. Some of my fondest memories of my earliest years of being a Red Sox fan involved my uncle unexpectedly coming over and taking me to see Pedro pitch. That was always fun, especially during the ’99 season, with a seemingly unhittable Pedro en route to striking out 300 hitters; a season that culminated in him pitching 6 perfect innings in the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians. That was also the year the All-Star game was held at Fenway Park. Pedro pitched 2 scoreless innings in that game, striking out 5 of 6 batters he faced. That included Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, and Jeff Bagwell—some of the best in the game at that time.

And then there was 2004 when he helped us break the Curse of the Bambino. For Pedro, that culimnated in a 7 inning scoreless performance against the St. Louis Cardinals—one of his best individual performances in a Red Sox jersey—after he had struggled earlier in the playoffs. That game put the Red Sox within 1 game of winning the Series, and within one game of breaking the curse. He was simply outstanding in that game. It was a vintage Pedro Martinez game, when the Red Sox needed it the most.

Pedro ended his career with 3,154 strikeouts and ultimately was a worthy addition to the Hall of Fame. Whether you are a Red Sox fan or not, you simply have to appreciate the greatness that was Pedro Martinez.

Pedro Martinez To Have His Number Retired by the Red Sox

Pedro Martinez, one of the greatest pitchers in Red Sox and Major League history, will have his number 45 retired by the Sox this season.  The ceremony will take place on July 28 during a game against the Chicago White Sox.  It is an honor that is seldom given by the Sox, but one that is greatly deserved by one of the all-time greats.

Martinez spent seven seasons with the Sox from 1998-2004, and rarely did he disappoint.Pedro Martinez He was always a fan favorite, including being my favorite Sox player ever, because of his great attitude toward the game, and the city of Boston.  He will always be remembered for his final season with the Sox, when the team won their first World Series title in 86 years, and while doing so came back from down three games to none against the hated New York Yankees.  That comeback will probably be seen as the best comeback in sports history forever.

But it wasn’t just that season that gave Martinez his reputation as being one of the best.  I believe that even if the Sox hadn’t made that great comeback (thank God they did though), Martinez would still be receiving this honor.  He recorded an overall record of 117-37 with an ERA of 2.52 during his time with Boston.  But even with how great of a pitcher he was in the regular season, it seemed that he would always step up his game in the playoffs.

Though Martinez is best-known for his time with the Sox, he played for four other teams (L.A. Dodgers, Montreal Expos, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies) during his 18 year career.  He had an overall record of 219-100 with an ERA of 2.93.  These numbers were good enough to put Martinez into the Baseball Hall Of Fame this year, which was his first time being on the ballot, an honor that is only given to the greatest.

Martinez will be the ninth number that the Sox have retired.  He will be joining other Sox greats Bobby Doer, Joe Cronin, Johnny Pesky, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams, Jim Rice and Carlton Fisk, as well as Jackie Robinson’s number 42 which is retired throughout the entire MLB.  With all the great players that have come through the Sox over the years, it is clearly a high honor to be only the eighth Sox player with his number never to be seen again on another player.  It really should be a memorable ceremony for the great man and pitcher, Pedro Martinez.