Mmm, Coco Crisp Nov 19 2008
I'm only posting this so I can say: the Sox got enough of that Coco Crisp.
I'm only posting this so I can say: the Sox got enough of that Coco Crisp.
Conventional wisdom and prevailing opinion among hardcore Boston Red Sox fans is that LA Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez finally sulked his way out of a Boston Red Sox uniform by basically phoning it in and causing trouble for his team for a couple of months earlier in the season, which phoning and trouble resulted in a trade of Ramirez to LA for very little in return. Two rebuttals have surfaced recently that seem more plausible to me. The first is Facts About Manny Ramirez by Joe Sheehan. Sheehan uses some of those pesky facts to illustrate that on the field, Manny played as well or better during the supposed phoning-it-in period than he has in the past.
When he played, Ramirez killed the league. He hit .347/.473/.587 in July. His OBP led the team, and his SLG led all Red Sox with at least 25 AB. The Sox, somewhat famously, went 11-13 in July. Lots of people want you to believe that was because Manny Ramirez is a bad guy. I'll throw out the wildly implausible idea that the Sox went 11-13 because Ortiz played in six games and because veterans Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek has sub-600 OPSs for the month.
Four days before he was traded, Manny Ramirez just about single-handedly saved the Red Sox from getting swept by the Yankees, with doubles in the first and third innings that helped the Sox get out to a 5-0 lead in a game they had to win to stay ahead of the Yankees in the wild-card race.
In Manny Being Manipulated, Bill Simmons attempts to answer the question, Ok, so why did Manny suddenly want to be traded and, more importantly, why did the Red Sox actually oblige? Simmons' answer: Scott Boras, Ramirez's agent and "one of the worst human beings in America who hasn't actually committed a crime". According to Simmons, it all boiled down to mismatched incentives and following the money.
Manny's contract was set to expire after the 2008 season, with Boston holding $20 million options for 2009 and 2010. Boras couldn't earn a commission on the option years because those fees belonged to Manny's previous agents. He could only get paid when he negotiated Manny's next contract. And Scott Boras always gets paid.
Boras could only get paid for representing Ramirez if Manny signed a new contract. Which he will next year because as part of the trade, the Dodgers agreed to waive his 2009 option and allow him to become a free agent. And the Red Sox went along because they decided they'd rather have a good relationship with Scott Boras going forward instead of a weird relationship with Ramirez. As for Manny, he gets paid either way, rarely appreciated the weird pressure/adulation put on him and every other Red Sox player by Boston fans, and, I get the feeling, likes swinging a bat, no matter what team he plays for.
Ben Fry has updated his salary vs. performance graph for the 2007 MLB season...it plots team payrolls vs. winning percentage. The Mets and Red Sox should be winning and are...the Yankees, not so much. Cleveland and the Brewers are making good use of their relatively low payrolls.
A list of possible Red Sox-inspired wines. Matsusake, Two-Buck 'Tek, Coco Cristal, and Big Papinot Noir all sound delicious.
Do Japanese pitchers, including Daisuke Matsuzaka, a new member of the Boston Red Sox, have an extra pitch called the gyroball? "The pitch started on the same course as a changeup, but it barely dipped. It looked like a slider, but it did not break. The gyroball, despite its zany name, is supposed to stay perfectly straight." Nice accompanying infographics as well.
You know that "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" song? They should add another verse, something like:
Take your glove to the ballgame
and if you don't, you're an idiot
We went to the Yankees/Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium with David and Adriana last night and in the bottom of the third inning, Yankees second baseman Miguel Cairo hit a line drive just wide of the foul pole in left field. As I watched the ball coming towards us, I thought a million things -- it's foul, it's gonna drop into the seats way in front of us, never gonna get here, what's the count now, is it time for cheese fries yet...almost everything except for "holy shit, it's coming right at me" -- and then stuck my bare hand straight up in the air, leaned slightly to my left, and dropped the ball.
Dropped isn't the right word, really. Deflected the ball off my bare hand is more accurate. It bounced into the seats behind me and then rolled down under Adriana's seat. After a brief scramble, some meatheads who were ambling by on their way to beer, pretzels, or the can stuck their paws in and made off with the ball. A Yankees fan who observed the whole thing got up in Meg's face, framed by her faded Red Sox hat, and yelled, "ha ha, Boston fans can't catch!" His truth stung almost as much as my rapidly swelling hand. David scored the play as an error, Box 324, Seat 3.
But the most entertaining play of the night by a fan who was not me award goes to the fellow in the yellow shirt who, emboldened by too much Miller Lite, dashed out onto the field, arms raised triumphantly, soaking in the cheers of the adoring crowd. Out came security from all corners of the field and the crowd redirected its enthusiasm from the hunted to the hunters, cheering for blood. "Hit em!" the guy behind me was screaming, "HIT EM!!"
Security eventually converged on the would-be outfielder and he adopted the surrendering posture of a man who knows he's had his fun, palms in the air, head down, not running anymore, almost sinking to his knees. And -- BAMMM! -- this security guard, a former linebacker by the looks of him, comes flying in from the blind side and wallops the guy, knocking him to the ground in a full-on lay-out tackle. The crowd roared at the guard's tackle and cheered lustily as the gladiator was removed from the coliseum.
The Baseball Visualization Tool was designed to help managers answer the question: should the pitcher be pulled from the game? Handy charts and pie graphs give managers an at-a-glance view of how much trouble the current pitcher is in. I wonder what TBVT would have told Grady Little about Pedro at the end of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS?
Wow, Johnny Damon goes from the Red Sox to the Yankees. It's looking like that Boston championship was a one-shot deal.
Watching the World Series last week, Meg wondered, "why White/Red Sox and not Socks?" I knew that if we waited long enough, the Internet would come up with the answer. Bonus: the NY Yankees were once known as the Porchclimbers. Those rascals!
One of the pre-conference events was a talk at Fenway Park followed by a tour of the ballpark. Janet Marie Smith, VP of planning and development for the Sox, kicked things off with how the team (especially the new management) works really hard to preserve the essential character of Fenway while at the same time trying to upgrade the park (and keep it from getting torn down). She talked about the advertisements added to the Green Monster, which was actually not a purely commercial move but a throwback to a time when the Monster was actually covered with ads.
Lots of talk and awareness of experience design...the Red Sox folks in particular kept referring to the "experience" of the park. One of the speakers (can't recall who, might have been Jim Dow) talked about how other ballparks are becoming places where only people who can afford $100 tickets can go to the games and what that does to the team's fan base. With Fenway, they're trying to maintain a variety of ticket prices to keep the diversity level high...greater diversity makes for a better crowd and a better fan base and is quite appropriate for Boston (and New England in general), which has always been an area with vibrant blue collar and blue blood classes.
Janet also referred to the "accidental" design of the park. Like many other urban ballparks built in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, the placement of the streets constrained the design of Fenway and made it rather an odd shape....these days larger plots are selected where those types of restraints are removed. And over time, the game has changed, the needs of the fans have changed, and the fire codes have changed and the park has changed with the times. In the dead ball era, the walls of the stadium weren't for hitting home runs over; their sole function was to keep people on the street for catching the game for free, so the Fenway outfield ran over 500 feet in right field -- practically all the way to the street -- where there's now 30 rows of seats. Jim Holt observed that American butts have gotten bigger so bigger seats are called for. Fire codes helped that change along as well...wooden seats, bleachers, and overcrowding are no longer a large part of the Fenway experience (save for the wooden seats under the canopy).
The design talk continued on the tour of the park. Our guide detailed how ballparks are built around specific ballplayers. Yankee Stadium was the house that Ruth built but it was also seemingly (but not literally) built for him with a short trip for his home run balls to the right field wall. Boston added a bullpen to make the right field shorter for Ted Williams. Barry Bonds does very well at PacBell/SBC/WhateverItsCalledTheseDays Park. And more than that, the design of Fenway also dictated for a long time the type of team that they could field, which had some bearing on how they did generally. Players who played well in Fenway (i.e. could hit fly balls off of the Monster in left) often didn't do so well in other parks and the team's away record suffered accordingly.