Monthly Archives: September 2012

Reverse Standings Update: Red Sox in danger of losing top 10 draft status

The Red Sox enter their final home series of the season tonight against Tampa Bay with a solid chance to finish in the bottom third of the standings, capping off one of the most disappointing years in franchise history considering spring expectations, theoretical talent level and the recent success of the team over the past 10 years.

However, there is still some losing to be done if they are to secure a coveted top 10 selection (“protected” even if the team signs a Type A free agent). The Sox essentially have to finish inside the bottom nine teams listed above or worse since Pittsburgh is locked into the No. 9 position after failing to sign 2011 first-round selection, Mark Appel.

(As WEEI’s Alex Speier pointed out, the last time the Sox picked anywhere near this high in a draft, they selected Nomar Garciaparra at No. 12 in 1994.)

Elsewhere, Sox fans might take some Schadenfreude in the fact that Theo Epstein’s Chicago Cubs have played well enough in recent weeks to let the Colorado Rockies (losers of nine of their last 10) back into the picture for the second pick in the draft.

These are indeed dark, dark days. Eight games to go and counting down…

In effort to defibrillate ratings, ever-creative Red Sox to air ‘Bobby Valentine Firing Special’ live on NESN

It is the worst kept secret in town: The Red Sox are going to fire Bobby Valentine once the 2012 season comes to its merciful end.

One of the many faces of Bobby V. (H/T Stamford Advocate)

Yet even though the outcome may be inevitable, leave it to the Boston Red Sox to deliver some much-needed autumn drama to its starving fanbase.

At a future date in October subject to approval by Major League Baseball, the Red Sox will send Bobby V. to the gallows in style as part of a live televised special that will include a veritable lynch mob of surprise guests; former players; the “Real” Wally the Green Monster; Jenny Dell (pre-recorded); John Henry and Larry Lucchino wearing tuxedos and coattails; an imposter Wally the Green Monster; former and current local television personalities; 6 o’clock evening news anchors and meteorologists; Hazel Mae; a guy with a goatee who looks a little bit like Dave Roberts; and many, many more.*

*(Just kidding. Hazel Mae won’t be there.)

Organizers expect the live special to run at least two hours (not including WB Mason pre- and post-firing analysis).

NESN officials are also promising a 30-minute condensed firing will be rerun throughout the Hot Stove season on both NESN and various local affiliates.

“Lineup cards written by Bobby will be burned; fake mustaches will be worn; shit-eating grins will be obliterated; wrap sandwiches will be fed to full-size elephants and their resulting dung will be packed into trash bags and emptied on top of his car,” said one organizer who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I can’t share too much else. The final script hasn’t been approved just yet…”

The front office, accused by some of becoming a bit tone-deaf to the wishes of its bread-and-butter fanbase over the past season or two, has seemingly come through with a slam dunk idea just in the nick of time.

“This thing is going to be an absolute ratings bonanza,” said one NESN executive from his office in Watertown. “We’ve already got Charlie Moore lined up to host a pre-game fishing special and NESN Daily will have a special booth. We expect that it’s going to be incredibly popular.”

Said another club spokesman, “What better way to lay rest to this atrocity of a season than to very publicly, very humiliatingly relieve Bobby Valentine from his duties as manager of the Red Sox?”

Sources have thus far been coy about exactly how they’ll “break” the news to Bobby V. However, the front office clearly lacks neither firepower nor creativity.

“Hell, we got Bill Cosby here to throw out the first pitch for a meaningless game earlier this month and even Jose Canseco showed up for the Fenway 100-Year Anniversary celebration,” said one official. “With the number of sponsors we have knocking down our door to get in on this, we’ll have a fairly significant chunk of cash to sink into making this whole firing go just right.”

Inside sources are already handicapping the chances that local celebrity personalities such as Ben Affleck, Lenny Clarke or Maria Menounos will be brought in to emcee the extravaganza along with NESN booth mainstays Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy.

More obscure emcee possibilities include the actor from The Karate Kid who yells, “Put him in a body bag, Johnny, YEEAHH” (provided he can be rescued from Bill Simmons’ basement) and former Sox utility man Nick Punto, who bragged on Twitter that he would “both literally and figuratively tear away Valentine from his association with the Red Sox uniform.”

But why the public flogging for a guy who clearly wasn’t the only contributing culprit to a season gone awry?

Across the river, a Harvard psychology professor applauded the Sox’s decision to air the firing live on NESN.

“It’s the same old story that harkens back to our earliest history. It is that very human desire to witness pure, elemental suffering at its very core. Why did people in the middle ages show up en masse for public stonings and to the gallows at sundown? I’ll surely have my digital video recorder set in advance.”

If nothing else, the planned live firing extravaganza seemingly vindicates the front office’s decision to hold off on a decision regarding Valentine prior to the regular season’s conclusion.

“Not to brag or anything, but this is exactly how Lucky Larry drew it up at the beginning of the year,” confirmed one high-ranking Sox executive.

Reverse Standings Update: Yankees help Red Sox keep pace in mad dash for Top 5 draft pick

The Red Sox, losers of eight of their last 10 after being shutout by the Yankees Thursday night, remain fringe contenders for a top 5 draft pick in the 2013 amateur player draft. It is duly noted that the No. 6 Miami Marlins have strung together a strong three-game losing streak in a valiant effort to distance themselves from Boston, currently in the No. 7 slot. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians stupidly battered around Joe Nathan and the Texas Rangers on Thursday night, allowing Boston to move within four games in the loss column of the No. 5 position.

The Sox hope to hold off Kansas City, just 1.5 games behind in the Reverse Standings. The last time Boston finished with more losses than the Kansas City Royals was during the strike-shortened 1994 season. With such a thin margin for error, the BoSox can only hope to match their September 2011 futility.

The frontrunner Houston Astros actually won last night at home against the red-hot Phillies. But ‘Stros fans aren’t likely concerned: Houston’s magic number to clinch the first overall pick, ahead of Theo Epstein’s Chicago Cubs, is now just nine. Additional help could be on the way if the team gives Roger Clemens and his 90-MPH fastball a chance to start against a contender.

“Wot’s, Uh, The Deal With This Rubbish?” A Stern Message from Red Sox owner John Henry

Dear sirs of Red Sox Nation,

I quite nearly choked on my biscuits while breakfasting on my open-air terrace this morning after hearing unsavory rumours on my handheld audio device that my Boston Red Sox are for sale. Thank goodness a lukewarm cup of Earl Grey was nearby to allow me to drown out the dire circumstances of such tracheal blockage.

Let there be no further debate: I am fully committed to the Fenway Sports Group and all of its components, including the beloved Red Sox Baseball Club of Boston.

I shan’t beat around the bush: I find all such rumours to be utterly insulting and downright nasty. I do believe the whole lot of it has been done to a turn.

Might I also state that Fox Business, from which this story originated, could not possibly have the inside intelligence to put forth such a preposterous claim – even if it were true – unless it had done something drastic, like figure out some magical way to listen in on private telly conversations.

As of this writing, I have lorded over this club for a decade, during which time we have won two world championships; made substantial improvement to Fenway Park; and effectively monetized the experience of diehard Red Sox fandom.

Make no mistake, we are just getting started. Our decline and fall has been vastly overstated. We have expunged vile bodies and, I pledge, Red Sox Nation, that we shall put out more flags before this whole thing is over and done.

Good day,

Series Preview: Will “scuffling” Yankees spoil Boston’s aspirations for top-five draft pick?

The race for a top five draft pick is on, Sox fans!

Going into Tuesday night’s action, Boston’s record sat at 63-78 – four games better than Cleveland (59-81) in the pivotal “Loss” column for the fifth pick. Meanwhile, the third-worst slot was also well within reach as Colorado sits at 56-83 (five losses ahead of the Sox).

The faltering Red Sox (losers of nine of their last 10 games), it would seem, could be lining themselves up nicely for a top-five draft pick in the 2013 amateur player draft.

But leave it to the reeling New York Yankees to come to town just in time to spoil the party.

The first-place Bombers limp into town as they begin a three-game set with the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. The aging Yanks aren’t exactly forging ahead full throttle as they enter the season’s final weeks, which is likely to feature an eventual playoff staredown with fellow AL East contenders Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

And as usual, everything the Yankees do is quite obviously aimed at weakening the Red Sox.

In fact, both the manager and New York players confirmed that they will put their playoff aspirations on hold just long enough to hopefully bolster Boston’s win total and spoil their 2013 draft positioning.

“Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of pussy-footing around in Boston, I can promise you that,” said a distracted looking Joe Girardi. “Our at-bats will be submissive; our base-running tentative and our hustle uninspired.”

Girardi said further, “I’m going to set the tone here. I’m going to bat our worst on-base guy in the leadoff spot and I’ll probably unwittingly slot in our worst power-hitter in the key third spot of the batting order. Maybe I’ll pitch fragile-minded bullpen specialists like Joba Chamberlain for four games straight.”

The Yankees manager claims he is also working on disenfranchising franchise player Derek Jeter.

“I’ve got a few rumors I’m going to drop into some tabloids later in the week. None of them are really based in any truth, but the New York media should have some fun with them for a couple of days. You know…I think maybe Jeter’s ‘commitment’ to the club isn’t what it used to be. He doesn’t play as hard for me as he did for Joe Torre …ya know, that kind of stuff.”

“I’ll clarify myself before Friday night’s game against Tampa because we’re going to need to win that one if everything goes as poorly as we hope in Boston.”

Said slugger Curtis Granderson, “Joe’s told me to use a bat that’s already cracked through…I guess he doesn’t trust me not to swing for the fences up there and he figures this way even if I make contact the ball will go nowhere.”

Added Jeter: “I’m going to do that thing where I stare every good pitch right over the plate all the way into the catcher’s mitt. But I’m also going to swing at every pitch in the dirt and above my neck. We call it ‘Ciriaco-styling'”

For his part, lame duck Sox manager Bobby Valentine does not sound worried.

“Oh, we’ll see about that,” he laughed when apprised of Girardi’s comments about strategically tanking a few games with the bigger picture of 2013 and beyond in mind. “I may not be back here next season, but I sure as shit ain’t going to let somebody like Joe Girardi out-mismanage me. He thinks one little scrum with a USA Today reporter makes him a badass? This guy is way out of his league.”

Asked for specifics, Valentine remained coy, but did provide one telling piece of information.

“We haven’t made a final decision about whether to shut down Daisuke. But I think maybe his next session of long-toss could come while playing third-base during tonight’s game…”

The 2012 Yankees can’t hold a candle to epic collapses of 2011 or 1978 Red Sox

On September 4, 2011, the Boston Red Sox’s peak odds of making the playoffs were 99.78% (see the handy chart from this Sports Illustrated story). *Note that those odds were without the help of an extra Wild Card slot.*

A year later, as the slate of games went final on September 4, 2012, the New York Yankees’ playoff odds are projected to be just under 80% after the team fell into a tie for first place in the AL East with the Baltimore Orioles last night.

Boston’s 1978 collapse was slightly less impressive in that it began earlier in the summer – yet that Red Sox team still had a playoff probability of 96.54% on August 12, according to the SI story linked above. That infamous one-game playoff was necessary in large part because the Yankees won at a near 75% clip during the final seven weeks of the season rather than Boston suffering anything close to the ineptitude of September 2011.

So it is no exaggeration to suggest that both the 2011 and 1978 Red Sox absolutely dwarf this cute little bout of flatulence dressed up as a pants-shitting collapse currently fueling late-summer hysteria in the Bronx.

To wit: The NY Post only used something like 85-point font for their “TANKEES” headline on Wednesday morning. Are these jaded New Yorkers taking this thing seriously?

Even if New York is able to continue losing and to take this downward chute all the way to the finish line, they’ll merely be an also-ran in baseball’s long history of September swoons. And it is conceivable that the Yanks could place third in the AL East behind Baltimore and Tampa Bay and still managed to sneak into the playoffs for the one-game Wild Card round.

This is a laissez-faire collapse if there ever was one.

Obviously, poor New York’s odd inferiority complex with Boston has reared its ugly head yet again. Sometimes we wonder why New Yorkers can’t just accept the harsh truth that Boston is so much more efficient than New York. Its collapses are grander; its players more hapless and, if 2012 is any indicator, its fallout more maddening than ever considered possible.

The gravest tragedy that will come of all this? The Yankees will probably start fielding a better, healthier lineup over the last four weeks of the season, catch a few breaks and manage to somehow win the division anyway.

Wait ‘til next year, indeed.