Tag Archives: Boston Red Sox

This Week in Boston Baseballing, March 15 – 21

The Red Sox forge ahead toward the start of the 2014 season, which is now 10 days away. The overall local buzz for a team coming off its third World Series in 10 years has been a bit restrained so far thanks to the Patriots’ active offseason and the Bruins’ continued success. But it’s hard to argue with a largely uneventful spring as that usually means good things for a baseball team with a roster as talented as Boston’s. The enthusiasm will come in due time.

Airline-style Pricing For the Monster Seats
On Forbes.com, Jesse Lawrence writes about the Red Sox’s decision to implement dynamic pricing for Green Monster seats this season, a move could net the team about $2 or $3 million of extra revenue.

Last year, Green Monster tickets had a face price of $165. While supply on the secondary market is usually limited to under 10 tickets each game, secondary-market ticket prices typically range from $250 to $450. … At 81 games over the course of the season, our calculation assumed an average free-market price of $350, which would mean an incremental $185 of revenue each game. For conservatism’s sake, we discounted that to $150 of incremental revenue per seat per game. With 20,000 Monster seats to sell over the course of the season, that equates to a clean $3,000,000 of incremental revenue for the World Champions–perhaps just enough to cover the addition of right-handed pull hitter at the trade deadline.

Wait, the Sox didn’t sign Jonny Gomes for his facial hair?
Yankee Stadium gets a lot of attention – along with Coors Field of course – for having a short porch in right field and a generally hitter-friendly environment. However, in 2013, as Tony Blengino writes on FanGraphs, Fenway Park was actually the second-most flyball-friendly ballpark in the majors after Coors (which is in its own stratosphere). Fenway’s “Park Factor” came in at 151.1 (average being 100) versus 116.5 for sixth-place Yankee Stadium. This measure is just another of the many ways in which New York is overrated.

We are now beginning to localize and quantify the Fenway fly ball factor – it is largely attributable to fly balls that would be outs almost anywhere else, that instead become doubles off of the high LF, LCF and CF fences. Now, to find some position players who hit more such fly balls than other players do, as well as some pitchers who can minimize such damage.

The Red Sox did just that, particularly in acquiring hitters Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp, both of whom are especially adept at lifting the ball in the air. Of course, park factors are somewhat dynamic from year to year and it’s likely pitchers may adjust. But it’s probably no accident that Gomes and Carp both drop their wrists low early in their swing path in order to get underneath the baseball.

Red Sox-Yankees Gets Delayed Because of Bees
“Bees everywhere! God, they’re huge and they’re sting-crazy! THEY’RE RIPPING MY FLESH OFF!” 

killer-bees_4844283_GIFSoup.com

Rumors swirled about whether Mike Carp did his best Chris Farley impression as he vacated the infested outfield.

Groundskeepers Dig Out After A Long Winter
With MLB Opening Day only a little more than a week away, teams that will be hosting games in late March amidst a late-arriving spring thaw face the challenge of getting the field in playable conditions.

From ESPN.com’s news services:

That frost in the ground at U.S. Cellular Field can be measured in feet, not inches. To ready the field for the first pitch, Bossard is overseeing an effort akin to blowing a gigantic hair dryer under a tarp to pump hot air onto the field and thaw it out. Crews have been chipping away at ice near the right field line with shovels.

Groundskeepers at Fenway Park will have a few extra days to get the field in shape for Boston’s opener at home on April 4. But they are likely in a similar situation. Here is one encouraging shot of the park in early March posted on Sons of Sam Horn by user “Tippi Hedren”, just prior to several weeks of additional snow, ice and cold temperatures rolling through:

Fenway before March thaw
The outfield seems to have a color that at least resembles a very pale shade of green. It won’t be long now…

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Screen Grabs from YouTube MLB Classics: Red Sox Pitching Coach Juan Nieves’ No Hitter in 1987

Watching footage from 1980s baseball games feels like witnessing some relic from baseball’s distant past. The basic details and rules of America’s Pastime are there, but the aesthetics just feel remarkably different. Like 70s porn, the key nuances – the mustaches, the stances, the positioning, the ball girls that look like Van Halen groupies – combine to distinguish it in greatness even amidst much scaled down production values (relative to today’s broadcasts). Cherry-pick any game uploaded to YouTube and it becomes apparent. If nothing else, this old archive footage can help us power through the remaining weeks of the long, cold winter leading up to spring training.

On April 15, 1987, southpaw Juan Nieves became the first Puerto Rican player to pitch a no-hitter, leading the Milwaukee Brewers to a 7-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in what was then a showdown between two American League East ball clubs. Nieves accomplished the feat only about a year after his major league debut.

Nieves became Boston’s pitching coach in 2013 and there are other interesting Red Sox angles to this one as well. Milwaukee started former Red Sox Cecil Cooper at DH while former third base coach Dale Sveum manned shortstop. Meanwhile, Baltimore’s lineup included second baseman Rick Burleson (playing in his final season) and a center fielder named Fred Lynn. The Orioles also had Ray Knight at third base, fresh off his 1986 World Series MVP performance the prior fall and the karmic justice of a killer case of kidney stones during spring training.

Jim Paschke and Mike Hegan from WBTV, the Milwaukee Brewers’ television network, provide the call, never once mentioning the no-hitter until the final out is in Robin Yount’s glove.

00:10: Milwaukee’s lineup.

Milwaukee lineup

00.30: Baltimore’s defense.

 Baltimore defense

1:56: Orioles starter Mike Flanagan starts off the game in front of a not-so-packed Memorial Stadium crowd (paid attendance was listed at about 11,400) that isn’t all that anxious to sit through this drab and rainy April affair.

Memorial Stadium empty

Somewhat reminiscent of the typical turnout in the home plate box seats at New New Yankee Stadium…

Flanagan first pitch

8:47: Juan Nieves, who had an inauspicious start to the 1987 season and had reportedly “lost his way” during a tumultuous 1986 rookie season, takes the hill after the Brewers go down in order in the top of the first.

Nieves takes mound

12:20: Nieves gets No. 2 hitter Rick Burleson to chase a 12-to-6 breaking ball for his first strikeout of the game. The pitch was characterized by the commentators as a “slurve” but was later explained as likely a hybrid of a split-finger and a knuckleball.

Nieves Ks Burleson

12:43: Cal Ripken, a mere 29% through his 2,632 consecutive games played streak as of this particular AB. He would pop out to end the inning.

Cal Ripken AB

13:40: Special graphics for Brewer Baseball ‘87. Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” is the choice for the outro music, obviously.

Brewer baseball 87

13:59: Cecil Cooper with some cool specs that would make many modern hipsters drool all over their flannel.

Cecil Cooper specs

21:22: Jim Paciorek makes a diving catch in left field to rob Eddie Murray of a single in the bottom of the 2nd inning.

Pachorek catch

23:33: What is Ray Knight grinning about? What a rat bastard…Knight would wind up drawing a walk from Nieves.

Ray Knight grinning

37:34: A check on other AL scores has Boston beating Texas, 5-4, at Fenway Park (Dwight Evans hit a homer and a triple and Wes Gardner saved Bruce Hurst’s bacon by pitching three innings out of the pen, striking out seven).

Boston v Texas final

40:23: Somehow Ken Gerhart hooks a pitch right down Main St. so high and far down the left-field line that it catches a jetstream and blows foul. Based on the camera track and where the crowd is scurrying in the bleachers, it’s hard to figure how this ball could have hooked far enough left to be foul unless it immediately changed path in mid-air before it landed in the seats. The third base umpire was Derryl Cousins. Nieves would eventually walk Gerhart before striking out Burleson to end the 3rd inning.

Gerhart foul ball

46:50: Lucky No. 7 Dale Sveum puts the Brewers on the board by pulling a lazy fly ball that manages to drift just over the wall next to the left-field foul pole. It landed nowhere near as high as Gerhart’s foul ball shown above…For your amusement, here he is rounding third base.

Sveum HR

54:44: In the 4th, Ripken takes a pitch well inside and below the knees on a hard line down the third-base line that looks like a hit as it leaves the meat of the bat. But Paul Molitor barely even needed to move to make the play. Batted ball luck: a must-have during virtually any no-hitter. (As it would turn out, this game would serve as a chief case in point in regards to the powers and influence of BABIP in small samples.)

Ripken liner

1:03:09: As Nieves deals to Knight to lead off the 5th inning, the commentators dance around any discussion of a no-hitter, instead filling the void with safer ground: gushing over Bo Jackson’s evening against Kansas City the night before. Bo famously scored a touchdown and kicked the extra point in the game.

Nieves delivers in 5th

1:07:11: Cal Ripken, Sr. looks like he’d be a fun dude to share a bottle of bourbon with.

Cal Ripken Sr

1:08:07: Another close call for Nieves as John Shelby hits one that barely lands foul down the left-field line. It would have been a sure double had it landed fair as Paciorek was shaded toward left-center.

Another close call

The platform in left where the ball landed, acting as the roof to the groundskeeper’s tool shed.

Platform in LF

1:10:31: Shelby goes down swinging for Nieves’ fourth strikeout on a pretty hittable pitch up in the zone.

Shelby Ks

1:11:00: Molitor would snare the final out on the next pitch to get Juan through five.

Molitor catch in 5th

1:20:11: Nieves fools Gerhart into swinging at this breaking ball to strike out leading off the 6th. A flyout to center and a flyout to right would do it for the inning.

Gerhart Ks in 6th

The Brewers’ two-run 7th inning features a leadoff double, a bunt basehit and another double along with a Gerhart error in left. A woman named Mary in Madison won a prize pack thanks to the runs being scored during the designated “Rally Inning.”

1:37:35: Nieves walks Murray on four straight pitches, prompting a visit at the mound by the pitching coach.

Mound visit

1:41:39: It’s Dale Sveum who takes over yet again, first initiating a 6-4-3 double-play on a ball hit by Lynn and then catching this can of corn for the final out in the 7th.

Sveum catches 7th inning popup

1:46:08: The Brewers extend their lead to 6-0 in the top of the 8th with a three-run homer by Greg Brock.

Greg Brock HR

1:52:45: In the 8th, Nieves gets a first-pitch flyout and then sets up the old inside fastball – outside fastball trick on Shelby swinging for the second out. Shelby accounted for three of Juan’s seven total strikeouts in the game.

Shelby's third K

1:53:47: Like the Gerhart foul earlier, the wind saves the day once again as Floyd Rayford gets out in front of a pitch and pulls it just in front of the left-field foul pole. It had the distance as it bounced off the upper deck facade in the corner.

Left field facade

1:55:16: Nieves proceeds to get Rayford to chase a 2-2 outside fastball that puts him just three outs away.

Rayford strikeout 8th

2:01:29: Milwaukee hitters swing early in the count in the top of the 9th in an effort to get Nieves back on the mount as quickly as possible. The Brewers still manage to tack on a run thanks to a Braggs home run off Dave Schmidt. Minutes later, Nieves takes the mound with a 7-0 lead in the 9th.

Nieves comes out for 9th

2:02:30: Gerhart swings at the first pitch and grounds out to third, bringing up Burleson. Nieves doesn’t look worried.

Nieves not worried 9th

2:02:43: Burleson hits a line drive to third, also on the first pitch, and Molitor again fields it no problem. It is the third line drive of the game hit right at him. Molitor gets extra points for grabbing this as a short-hopper here may have spelled trouble.

Molitor fields liner 9th

2:05:02: Cal Ripken draws the fifth walk of Nieves’ night, bringing up Eddie Murray, who lifts the first pitch to left-center field. And Robin Yount makes the play of the night, just laying out to clinch the no-no.

Yount dive in 9th

Yount high five

2:06:02: Nieves celebrates as he finishes the first no-hitter in Brewers history.

Nieves first no no

Nieves celebrates

Overall, Nieves exhibited much guile and instinct with what was generally a mediocre repertoire. Game score-wise, Nieves was hardly dominant – his seven strikeouts were largely offset by five walks. However, this wasn’t exactly Phil Humber no-hitting the lowly Seattle Mariners lineup a couple of years ago. Baltimore’s offense featured some firepower, namely Ripken and Murray. But they were also fairly free-swinging in this game and Nieves took advantage by working around the better hitters and taking advantage of mismatches (hello, Mark Shelby).

CLASSIC RED SOX SCREEN GRAB SERIES:

1975 World Series, Game 6

1986 ALCS, Game 6

1990 ALCS, Game 1

1999 ALDS, Game 5

1999 ALCS, Game 3

Screen Grabs from MLB Classics on YouTube: 1986 ALCS, Game 5 – Boston at California

On the brink of elimination during the 1986 ALCS, the Red Sox staged a ninth-inning rally to tie Game 5 and eventually win 7-6 in 11 innings. This one probably gets forgotten in the annals of Boston sports history thanks to recent championships and, of course, the gold standard 2004 ALCS Comeback.

*Disappointingly, the ABC footage posted to YouTube does not include most of the graphics used by the network throughout the broadcast. At one point during the first inning, Michaels discusses how valuable Wade Boggs is because he draws so many walks and the network posted his OBP. Michaels explains, “There’s something in baseball called on-base percentage…”

00:22: The video includes about 20 minutes of ABC pre-game analysis. Al Michaels explains the simple mathematics for Boston and its need to win three games in a row. As recently as 1984, the Red Sox would have already been eliminated as part of the former Best-of-5 LCS format.

Al Michaels

1:22: Michaels recaps the night before as Roger Clemens took a shutout into the ninth inning before giving up a leadoff home run and putting on a couple of baserunners, who would both score to tie the game thanks to an uncharacteristically poor performance from Calvin Schiraldi, who had a 1.41 ERA in 51 innings in 1986. He had just five appearances in which he had a negative win probability added (WPA).

Clemens recap

2:13: In retrospect, Deborah Schiraldi was maybe a bit too excited that her husband got a couple of strikes on Brian Downing. Cal tried a two-strike curveball that dove so far inside that it hit Downing.

Deborah Schiraldi

3:37: The Sox would lose in extra innings when a Bobby Grich single drove in Jerry Narron. Losses don’t get any more heart-wrenching than this right?

Angels win

4:30: ABC had not only Jim Palmer doing color commentary in the booth with Michaels…

Palmer and Michaels

5:13: But also Don Drysdale for an on-field interview such as this pre-taped bit with Sox manager John McNamara.

Don Drysdale

18:49: As you can see in this establishing shot, the left-field bleachers at Angel Stadium are conspicuously empty. It’s almost like the fans are avoiding potential home run balls for some reason.

Left field stands

29:00: The Sox go down in order in the top of the 1st against Witt. Bruce Hurst takes the mound for Boston. Hurst started two games against California in the ALCS and three in the World Series against the Mets. His combined line for the 1986 postseason: 3-0, 38.0 IP, 36 H, 7 BB, 4 HR, 25 K,  2.13 ERA, 1.13 WHIP.

Bruce Hurst

45:35: With a runner on first base, Rich Gedman ropes an inside pitch from Mike Witt that stays up just long enough to land in the seats near the right-field foul pole. Boston takes a 2-0 lead. (Michaels notes that Gedman hit two home runs all season at Fenway but had three jacks at Angel Stadium during the ‘86 regular season.)

Gedman HR 

1:03:17: Bob Boone hit a solo shot to left field off Hurst to start the 3rd.

Boone HR 3rd 

1:04:36: Hard contact off Hurst continues as Gary Pettis sent a single up the middle to follow Boone’s homer. The whole Boone family is just the worst.

Pettis hit

1:05:33: Former Red Sox shortstop Rick Burleson was California’s leadoff hitter. During his second at-bat, he would lay down a sacrifice bunt that got Pettis to second with one out. But Pettis would wind up being stranded.

Burleson

1:13:04: There are some impressive beards on the 2013 edition of the Boston Red Sox, but Dwight Evans’ mustache is a thing of legends.

Dwight Evans mustache

1:20:20: Michaels: “And there is a guy who’s a pretty good fisherman…”

Ted Williams

1:23:08: After a Reggie Jackson single, Hurst caught Jackson leaning and Buckner made a great swipe tag to finish the bottom of the 4th.

Reggie Jackson picked off

1:26:14: Red-hot Rich Gedman follows his 2nd inning home run with a double off the left-center wall in the 5th. He would be stranded.

Gedman double 5th

1:36:45: With Wade Boggs on first base in the top of the 6th, Marty Barrett lays down a bunt that rolls just in front of the mound for Witt, who fields it and throws Boggs out.

Barrett bunt

1:36:51: Boggs makes his feelings known, but replays showed he was indeed out. With the No. 3 hitter Bill Buckner on deck and no one out, Barrett’s surrendering an AB was a questionable decision. Boston missed what may have been an opportunity to break things open as Buckner and Rice both made outs to finish off the inning.

Boggs out at 2nd

1:40:51: More than anything, it seems like the poster-board outwitted this Angels fan…

Outwitted

1:48:15: Bobby Grich’s long fly gets the extra help it needed to make it over the fence from Dave Henderson’s glove, giving the Angels a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 6th. Henderson, who came into the game an inning earlier as a defensive replacement for Tony Armas, nearly made the catch of his life. Instead, his momentum would carry his arm, the glove and, most importantly, the ball over the fence.

D Henderson noncatch 1

D Henderson noncatch 2

1:49:52: In the aftermath, as the Sox get ready to bat in the 7th, Michaels and Palmer shed their blue CBS suit jackets. Al gets a bit swept up in the moment, saying “this [Henderson’s misplay] could be one of the more memorable plays of the 80s.” Forget for a moment that Al Michaels called the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team’s gold medal run and just take note of the following:

a. The game is only two-thirds in the books
b. The Red Sox trail by only one run
c. As a decade itself, the 80s were only about two-thirds complete in October 1986

Michaels on Grich HR

2:02:55: Bob Stanley runs into trouble in the bottom of the 7th and a seeing-eye single by pinch-hitter Rob Wilfong up the middle plates another run. Gary Pettis would score on a sacrifice fly a batter later. 5-2, California.

Wilfong single

2:08:26: In dire need of runs, the Sox pinch-hit rookie Mike Greenwell for Spike Owen. Greenwell had spent much of 1986 in Pawtucket. He would lead off the top of the 8th with a single and be replaced immediately by pinch-runner/infielder Ed Romero (Boston wasn’t too interested in having Greenwell play SS in the bottom half of the inning). But the Sox couldn’t get Romero home.

Mike Greenwell

2:15:38: ABC: “Another Boston Catastrophe.” Meanwhile, Michaels sets the stage as Buckner digs in, “Witt on the mound and security at the ready…”

Another Boston Catastrophe

2:18:08: Just as they showed Cal Schiraldi’s wife the night before, here’s Lisa Witt. The obligatory wife/girlfriend shot is just a bad omen that is not worth the potential pain. Buckner singles to center to begin the inning. Buckner hobbles off the field for a pinch-runner as his knees barely allow him the 90 feet to first base.

Lisa Witt

2:20:50: Donnie Moore gets loose in the bullpen, but Witt punches out Jim Rice and seems to still be sporting effective stuff.

Donnie Moore in pen

2:24:58: Witt hits his spot on the outside corner here, but Don Baylor reaches out across the plate and somehow manages to pull this outside fastball over the left-field fence. Al Michaels, sounding on the verge of orgasm, exclaims “What a GREAT series!”

Baylor HR

2:27:19: With Rich Gedman (three hits, including a HR and a double) due up, the Angels make the call for the left-handed Gary Lucas. Mike Witt debates openly how in the world he’ll explain this to his wife…

Angels call in Moore

2:28:37: Lucas hits Gedman’s right arm on the first pitch, narrowly missing his head. The Angels are forced to bring in Donnie Moore to face Dave Henderson.

Lucas hits Gedman

2:30:35: Moore gets two strikes on Henderson. The field is lined with security and other team personnel.

Security on field

2:31:58: The beauty of potential energy…

D Henderson swing

2:32:03:And Downing goes back and it’s gone. Unbelievable…” Henderson homers to left field, not far away from where he helped along Grich’s two-run shot earlier in the game. Boston takes a 6-5 lead. There are a few more people in the sunny left-field bleachers than at the start of the game…

Downing goes back

2:32:24: Henderson, on his way toward joining Carlton Fisk and, years later, David Ortiz…(and Johnny Damon). And Mark Bellhorn.

Henderson celebration

2:39:41: Bob Boone gets a base hit to lead off the bottom of the 9th. Gary Pettis moves pinch-runner Rupert Jones to second base. All of this, Michaels points out, while the shadows created by a stadium-top flagpole that briefly waves around directly in front of the hitters’ line of vision.

Flagpole shadows

2:41:35: McNamara lifts Bob Stanley in favor of the lefty Joe Sambito to face Wilfong, who immediately singles to right. Jones slides in safely behind Gedman’s left foot despite a strong, on-the-mark throw from Dwight Evans.

R Jones slides in safe

2:43:41: With Schiraldi having worked the day before and Tom Seaver on the shelf with a sore knee, Steve Crawford comes in for Sambito with the winning run on 1st base and one out. Crawford gives up a single that gets Wilfong to third base; puts Doug DeCinces on first base with an intentional walk; then gets out of the 9th inning by inducing a shallow fly to right and a broken-bat comebacker to the mound.

Steve Crawford

2:55:48: After a Boggs walk to start the 10th, Barrett once again(!) bunts hard enough down the first base line that a force out is made at second. The play proves costly as Dave Stapleton would follow with a single that gets Barrett to third. But Jim Rice hits into a double play and, like the 6th inning, the Sox are held scoreless in the 10th because Barrett gave away his out.

Barrett bunt in 10th

2:59:29: Nothing of note really happens for California in the bottom half of the 10th. So let’s just take quick note of Reggie Jackson’s CHiPs-inspired sunglasses.

R Jackson sunglasses

3:10:53: With a runner on first, Gary Pettis takes a pitch the other way and Rice makes a jumping catch at/on the wall. The ball may not have been a home run, but anything but an out and the game is otherwise over.

Rice catch

3:12:45: Fittingly, Don Baylor gets hit by a pitch to begin the 11th. He led the majors in HBPs in 1986 with 35(!!). In the background of ABC’s sound feed, the Angels Stadium PA can be heard announcing, “That was the first time that Don Baylor has been hit by a pitch in an ALCS game.” If you listen closely, you can kind of detect the snark.

Baylor HBP

3:17:22: After an Evans single, Gedman pops a ridiculously bad bunt about 10 feet in the air that serendipitously lands free of spin in no-man’s land. Bases loaded…

Gedman bunt

3:17:42: And then everything goes to shit for Boston? No, the feed cuts out and returns for the bottom of the 11th. Begin speculation on conspiracy theories as to why there is no archive footage available of Henderson’s sacrifice fly that scored the winning run. However, it feels almost fitting that the play that technically gave the ballgame its end isn’t even worth the trouble. Similar to the 2004 ALCS, the capacity for drama after Games 4 and 5 proved limited.

Broadcast scramble

3:20:52: Anyway, Schiraldi would wind up finishing the Angels off in order in the 11th, notching two strikeouts and looking much like the dominant reliever he had been throughout the 1986 season. And Mrs. Schiraldi would get the last laugh.

Schiraldi finishes game2

Schiraldi finishes game

Mrs. Schiraldi

California went on to lose the series in seven games as Boston went home to Fenway and outscored the Angels 18-5 (Game 6 and Game 7 box scores). The franchise wouldn’t make its first World Series until 2002. By then, Gene Autry could only watch on from his perch in heaven, a place where we assume Thundersticks shall make no sound for all eternity.

This Week in Boston Baseballing, August 2 – 8

The Red Sox took two of three from Arizona at Fenway Park before heading to Houston and somehow stealing two of three at Minute Maid Park thanks to two more comeback wins. Stephen Drew’s three-run ninth-inning home run in the finale on Wednesday clinched the series victory. Finally, last night the Sox ran into the buzzsaw that is Bruce Chen in Kansas City, dropping the opener of a four-game weekend series against the Royals, 5-1.

From CTpost.com

From CTpost.com

Boston Matches Its 2012 Win Total
Tuesday night’s game in Houston went awry quickly. A horrific first inning for Ryan Lavarnway and Steven Wright might have done some serious harm to the psyches of a couple of younger players: Wright’s knuckler was landing everywhere but Lavarnway’s glove. After Wright threw only 18 of 38 pitches for strikes in the first inning, John Farrell lifted Wright for Brandon Workman, who wasn’t much better. Still, Workman managed to eat some innings out of the bullpen and Boston’s offense came through with one of its best performances of the season. Is there much doubt Bobby Valentine would have run poor Wright back out for the second inning to let him “fight through” his struggles? Or, failing that scenario, that he would have given a few unflattering quotes to the media of his assessment of Lavarnway’s defense?

The Bottom Line: Boston won 69 games in six months under Valentine. The Red Sox won their 69th game of the 2013 season on August 6. The team is currently projected to win 95 games.

Larry Lucchino Dresses Up Like Darth Vader, sneaks into Ben Cherington’s Bedroom in the Middle of the Night, and Tells Him If He Doesn’t Call Up Xander Bogaerts Soon, He’s Going to Melt His Brain
Just kidding. But seriously, it’s getting to be about that time right?

Jake Peavy’s Debut Goes Well
The right-hander made his Red Sox debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night. Peavy struck out seven in seven innings, allowing two earned runs in the 5-2 win. Peavy will make his second start in a Boston uniform on Friday night.

From BostonHerald.com

From BostonHerald.com

John Henry “Wins” Bidding For The Boston Globe
Despite reports that other groups submitted higher bids, the New York Times Corporation will reportedly sell The Boston Globe and web affiliate Boston.com to the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, John Henry, for $70 million. Sure, maybe Henry is just looking to revamp his local image by taking on the challenge of reviving a dying business.

As Ken Doctor points out, though, other rich dudes like Warren Buffett and Aaron Kushner have also recently bought under-performing newspapers. Their first move was to implement digital subscribership and pay walls to defibrillate revenues. But the Globe has already done that over the past year and yet the business continues to hemorrhage profit and lose readership.From the end of Doctor’s “newsonomics” analysis of the deal:

Should Red Sox players become embroiled in A-Rod-type controversies, though, the question of who breaks relevant stores when will rise to the fore. That’s been an issue for decades, in Chicago, Atlanta, and L.A., as Tribune, Turner, and Murdoch cross-ownerships have raised related questions. …

For the Globe news staff, that’s not the big question, though. That one is: Will John Henry do right by the Globe legacy of quality and public service? He has the deep pockets to do that — and that may be one of the best early indicators here.

Anyone who has paid attention to the coverage from Peter Abraham, Amalie Benjamin et al in recent years knows this probably isn’t all that big of an issue. When was the last time a Globe reporter actually broke a significant news story surrounding the Boston Red Sox? Answering that question becomes a lot more difficult unless you feel comfortable categorizing Bob Hohler’s hatchet job of Terry Francona after the 2011 disaster as a legitimate news story.

Best of luck to Mr. Henry in his new endeavor. Malcolm Gladwell said on Bill Simmons’ podcast Wednesday, “billionaires seem to think that running a newspaper is a lot more fun that it really is.” Then again, John Henry may just be in a win-win situation. Even if the whole thing fails miserably, Henry’s wife Linda can surely make a couple of bucks building a Fenway Trilogy Triangle-style condominium complex. Luxurious, high-rise views of Ho Chi Minh’s profile painted onto the Boston Gas tank at a reasonable price!

We’ll leave you with this Hot Sportz Take from Globe 10.0 recorded by Abraham and Dan Shaughnessy way back during 2012 spring training.

Screen Grabs from MLB Classics on YouTube: 1999 ALCS, Pedro v. Clemens I

Today we continue our look at Red Sox Classics on the MLB YouTube channel with a recap of Game 3 of the 1999 ALCS. Nine years after the 1990 ALCS marquee pitching matchup between Dave Stewart and Roger Clemens turned into a blowout, a similar result came from a hugely anticipated Clemens v. Pedro matchup. As it turned out, this was only Part I* of what would be several gigantic Red Sox-Yankees postseason games started by two of the most accomplished right-handed pitchers to play in the modern era.

*The 2003 ALCS featured two Pedro v. Clemens matchups — games that wound up being infamous for reasons other than the teams’ starters entirely. Game 3 at Fenway was Pedro’s showdown with an obviously psychotic Don Zimmer. And, of course, Game 7 at Yankee Stadium…otherwise known as Grady Little’s Last Game.

 

00:04: FOX starts off with the blimp shot from the Charles. It really is a playoffs must.

Fenway overhead

00:22: It had been three years since Roger skipped town. Some fans were still pretty bitter. It’s almost like Bostonians hold grudges for longer than most.

Roger Who

00:45: Simpler times for Keith Olbermann. His colleague Steve Lyons calls it the greatest pitching matchup Fenway has ever seen.

Olberman

1:51: A very spikey Roger explains in a pregame interview it’s not “just another game”…

Clemens spikey

5:53: Pedro’s statistics in 1999. Even 14 years later, many Sox fans can come close to reciting these particulars verbatim. His 2000 season was nearly as good, but ‘99 has to be the absolute pinnacle considering what he did in the playoffs – especially five days earlier in Cleveland (as we recently rehashed here).

Pedro 1999 stat box

6:34: And of course, announcers rarely fail to mention the potential impact shadows and setting sunlight may have on batters and fielders. Extra points to Fox and Tim McCarver for mentioning the Lou Pinella play from the 1978 one-game playoff in which he nearly lost a Jerry Remy single behind him due to the sun.

Fenway shadows

9:05: Fans with K signs on a 3-2 count to Chuck Knoblach, who doesn’t oblige and flies out to right field.

Fans K signs

10:31: Jeter singles to left with one out. There is audible disappointment that the chance for a no-hitter is done so early.

Jeter single in first

17:00: After a Bernie Williams strikeout, FOX forgoes a commercial break after the top of the 1st inning in order to air Fenway’s reception to Roger as he takes the mound.

Have donut Roger

19:03: “Sock it to Rocket”

Sock it to Rocket

20:08: With the crowd serenading him with a loud “Rooooger” chant, Clemens badly misses the outside of the plate to Jose Offerman on his first pitch. Offerman would hit a well-placed ball to the right-field corner for a stand-up triple.

Roger misses on first pitch

23:54: John Valentin would follow that up with a two-run homer into the screen on a letter-high fastball.

Valentin HR

26:16: Follow the path of Paul O’Neill’s glove here and you can see where the throw from Chuck Knoblach on a routine Nomar Garciaparra grounder would wind up. Just not even remotely close to the bag…A total of 15 of Knoblach’s league-leading 26 errors that season were throwing errors.

Knoblach's throw

34:39: FOX’s producers were absolutely obsessed with the “sunsplashed Fenway” angle of this game right from the start. They just could not get over it. Meanwhile, those fans who weren’t blinded by the mythological light of the burning sun saw Pedro Martinez strike out Tino Martinez by throwing four nasty change-ups in a row.

Sunsplashed Fenway

37:47: The Pedro vs. Rocket “K” comparison. Martinez would eventually strike out Ricky Ledee for his fourth straight punch-out, ending the 2nd.

Pedro Rocket K comparison

46:33: One out. Runners on the corners. John Valentin at the plate. Jimy Williams in his pants. Valentin would wind up driving in Trot Nixon from third on a fielder’s choice chopper to shortstop.

Jimy hands pants

54:52: Nomar doubles down the left-field line to make it 4-0 Boston.

Nomar double

59:18: Pedro showing off what Tim McCarver describes as “unusually long fingers.”

Pedro's fingers on curve

1:05:25: Jetes does his trademark lunge over the plate to make sure the umpire is paying attention to a perfect backdoor curve.

Jeter K

1:08:17: It appears to blow Tino Martinez’s mind that Joe Torre has decided Roger’s had enough after putting the lead man on in the bottom of the 3rd.

Tino Martinez

1:08:42: Exit Con Man.

Exit Roger

1:08:51: Enter Fat Toad Man.

Enter Fat Toad Man

1:11:27: Brian Daubach would promptly hook a Pesky Pole homer off Hideki Irabu. 6-0, Red Sox.

Daubach HR

1:17:06: Excluding his infamous failure to hit three home runs for a boy on his hospital deathbed in a 1995 Seinfeld episode, this is THE signature image of Paul O’Neill’s career – his head turned so he can argue over his shoulder with the umpire on a called third strike on his way back to the dugout. Seven strikeouts for Pedro. He finished the 4th striking out Chili Davis for his eighth K.

Oneill called K

1:31:32: Nomar gets some extra airtime to catch this liner.

Nomar airtime

Nomar airtime2

1:43:19: Darren Lewis slides safely into home to make it 8-0, Boston, as the Sox begin to make it hurt.

Darren Lewis slide

1:46:33: With Boston up 8-0 in the top of the 6th and Pedro cruising, Fox makes sure it fits in the obligatory “Bambino” curse nonsense, complete with vintage Babe Ruth footage. Joe Buck goes deep with it and brings up Harry Frazee, No No Nannette and Ed Barrow.

Bambino

1:47:58: No true Sox fan misses this nonsense…

Reverse curse

1:49:30 / 2:03:23: Finally, Fox snaps out of the masturbatory “curse” rehash to roll out some useful, relevant graphics after Pedro strikes out Jeter for his 10th K of the game. One can only imagine what Pedro’s 1999 stats would have looked like if he pitched for a National League team. Thankfully, we’ll never know.

 Pedro graphic

Pedro graphic 2

2:07:58: Up 13-0, Boston sends up the immortal Butch Huskey. Huskey wasn’t necessarily just a human victory cigar, though. He actually hit 22 homers with the Mets and Red Sox in 1999.

 Butch Huskey

Martinez would finish the game with a line of 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 12 K (105 pitches). The Red Sox offense, meanwhile, set an ALCS record with 21 hits.

The 13-1 Game 3 win would be Boston’s only victory against New York in the 1999 ALCS.The Red Sox simply didn’t have enough of a staff around Pedro to get him another ALCS start on the road in New York. The much-hyped Pedro-Clemens match-up would be the last appearance of his historic ‘99 season.

Final score

Fun Screen Grabs from MLBClassics on YouTube: Game 1 – 1990 ALCS, Oakland at Boston

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As Jonah Keri recently wrote in this Grantland piece, MLB has finally relaxed its laughably strict copyright standards and posted some full-length broadcasts of old baseball games on YouTube.

Even after only a couple of weeks, it is becoming pretty clear that MLB was actually doing baseball fans a favor by withholding the goods for so long. These classics are mesmerizing. And with the outcome long since known and catalogued away in forgotten game stories, the nuances of a dated baseball broadcast can receive its full due.

As a service to Red Sox fans unable to devote three hours* to watching games that were played decades before, Fenway Pastoral will take some of the more compelling screen shots from some of the Boston games featured on the YouTube page.

*Amalie Benjamin and The Boston Globe will be happy to note that advertisements were edited out and the 1990 ALCS video runs a tidy two hours and 45 minutes.

Game 1 of the 1990 ALCS featured a starting pitcher’s duel between Dave Stewart and Roger Clemens for most of the night before Oakland scored seven runs in the ninth inning for the blowout. What, exactly, makes it a “classic” is probably up for debate.

20:08: You know it’s playoff time when the network goes to the establishing shot from a blimp above the Charles River.

Blimp shot

28:10: Tony Pena uses the unconventional outstretched leg with the bases empty to receive a Clemens offering. Hurts the hamstring just looking at that.

T Pena

29:58: With two strikes on the light-hitting No. 9 batter, Mike Gallego, this Boston-are priest knows it’s gosh-darn time to get flipping serious. His prayers weren’t answered, though. After getting ahead 1-2, Clemens got squeezed on a couple of close calls and Gallego eked out a walk.

Priest

(Clemens keeps cool though. It’s not like he’s going to get all bent out of shape about a couple tough calls in the early innings of an LCS game and jeopardize his team’s chances to win by getting run for arguing balls and strikes.)

36:23: Tony Pena with a completely unreasonable, out of control slide through the first base bag on a groundout. Judging by his grimace, he seems to realize it wasn’t such a fantastic idea maybe. Hindsight’s 20/20. Jim Kaat explains, “He almost caught that bag with his chin!”

Pena 1B slide

37:52: All three of these guys would wear the Boston uniform after their respective heydays. Willie McGee was a lifetime National Leaguer aside from two partial-season cameos on AL playoff teams – the 1990 Athletics and the 1995 Red Sox.

Future Sox

38:18: The obligatory explanation by Dick Stockton, for the national audience, of the Red Sox’s “haunted” past. Even worse, the producers decide the Jimmy Fund logo is a fine backdrop for “September 4, 1918.” Have some damn respect…

9 4 18 graphic

48:17: After Carlos Quintana grounds out to start the bottom of the fourth…DIAMOND WIPE!

Diamond Wipe

48:44: Moments later, Wade Boggs homers into the second row of the Monster Seats. Known very quaintly in 1990 as “the screen.”

Boggs HR into Screen

55:00: Why the Red Sox really, really needed to win Game 1 to have a chance. Amazingly, Dana Kieker was actually 29 years old during his rookie year in 1990.

Welch v Kieker

58:12: Note the left-field wall down the foul line still measured 315 feet in 1990. A few years later, a bored Dan Shaughnessy would measure the distance and convince the team to change the fraudulent reading to a more truthful 310 feet. It was easily the most (only?) useful thing he’s done in his professional career.

315 LF line

1:07:46: Tony Pena almost runs out from under of his helmet, but can’t avoid grounding into a double play. (Pena led the league in GIDPs that season.) On the bright side, he didn’t slide this into first base time.

Pena helmet

1:10:29: For what it’s worth, the guy who the Red Sox acquired for Jeff Bagwell earlier that summer was first up in the bullpen when Clemens issued his third walk of the game in the sixth. On top of that, he met the thick mustache status quo, a prerequisite for membership on the ‘90 Red Sox.

With this development, Kaat begins questioning whether Roger’s shoulder tendinitis is flaring back up. This seeded a mostly absurd debate among some fans over whether Clemens’ Game 4 ejection after cursing out Terry Cooney may have been at least partially self-induced once he realized his shoulder was too sore to pitch effectively in Oakland.

Larry Anderson

1:12:25: Bill Fischer visits the mound. Clemens convinces him to let him stay in the game and ultimately works to a full count against Jose Canseco before walking his fourth batter. Thankfully, Harold Baines lines out to Jody Reed just hard enough that he is able to double off McGee at second base. Six scoreless for a reeling Clemens.

Fischer Clemens

1:33:34: Jim Gray reporting from tarp alley, at least the third different spot in Fenway (other stand-ups were done from the right-field roof and the grandstand above the left-field corner), that the team told him Clemens was taken out solely due to pitch count, etc. and not because of any tendonitis issue.

Jim Gray on Clemens

1:45:04: Tony Pena tags Walt Weiss as he slides into home after tagging up on a fly ball to center. Unfortunately, the throw from Ellis Burks isn’t in Pena’s mitt at the time – it’s bouncing off Weiss’s shoulder blade. Tie game.

Weiss tying run

1:54:09: During this Canseco AB in the eighth, Dick Stockton relates Jose’s recent explanation for why he doesn’t speak to the media: “because everyone’s already formed their opinion of him…” Shortly thereafter, Jose must have decided to spend as much time as possible reinforcing all those negative sentiments. Anyway, he would wind up stealing third base and coming around for the deciding run on a Carney Lansford single.

Canseco 8th AB

2:09:15: Oh, look: The Budweiser roof deck, way back in the day when it was located in left field as a standing room-only section.

Fans on Monster - Bud deck

2:14:45: This girl is unimpressed with Mike Marshall’s pinch-hit single to left in the last of the eighth. Rightly so – the Sox strand him and go into the ninth down a run.

Sleeping girl

2:18:59: Ricky gets on base to start the ninth inning. Jeff Gray actually catches Ricky leaning after he measured out a very healthy lead, but Ricky still managed to dive back. Willie McGee also tries his best to give the Red Sox an out by bunting straight back at the mound, but Gray mishandles it. Oakland winds up scoring seven runs in the inning.

Ricky ninth inning

2:41:13: This is part of the reason listening to Eck fill in for Jerry Remy is hard to digest. He did some good things for the Sox earlier in his career. But Eckersley the Athletic is the lasting image from his career.

Eck

And the final score. Boston would wind up getting swept 4-0.

Final

In honor of the newly appointed Pope Francis, a history of Franks to don the Red Sox uniform

MalzoneFrank Malzone (1955-1965) – A member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame and recognized by most as one of the top 50 players in franchise history, Malzone continues to serve as a player development consultant for Boston at age 83. He ought to be recognized for his devoted, undying, Pesky-like commitment to the team. It’s too late to decree that a foul pole be named after him, but “Pope Malzone” does actually have a certain ring to it…

ViolaFrank Viola (1992-1994) – As someone with an appreciation for the mystical and unexplained, Frankie V was known to change gloves during the middle of the game if he felt like karmic influences (or just the umpires) were against him. Judging by how chummy he looks hanging with Roger Clemens, Viola’s paranoia was understandable.

Rodriguez

Frankie Rodriguez (1995) – Highly touted as a shortstop, Rodriguez was a second-round pick in 1990 and was later converted to a pitcher. He was ranked No. 9 by Baseball America going into 1992 and started two games for Boston in 1995 before going to the Twins. He pitched almost 200 innings for Pawtucket in 1994, helping fans get through some tough times while the major league players were on strike.

Castillo

Frank Castillo (2001-2004) – Probably would have to be classified as a bit too crafty for the Vatican’s liking, the veteran right-hander featured a fastball that would barely have a skittish little leaguer bailing out of a batter’s box if it were to slip away from him. It was downright sinful that professional hitters ever allowed his 85-mph fastballs to set them up for well-placed off-speed junk. Castillo did pitch one inning for the blessed 2004 World Series champs. So, um, a little respect, please.

Morales

Franklin Morales (2011-present) – Like Viola, he throws left-handed so both Morales and Frankie V may be slightly delayed at ol’ St. Peter’s Gate. But ultimately, if Morales can somehow provide the Red Sox with a much coveted swingman who can both start and/or pitch out of the bullpen, that would be pretty divine.

O'Rourke

Also: Frank Arellanes, Frank Barberich, Frank Barrett, Frank Baumann, Frank Bennett, Frank Bushey, Frank Duffy, Frank Foreman, Frank Fuller, Frank Gilhooley, Frankie Hayes, Frank LaPorte, Frank Morrissey, Frank Mulroney, Frank O’Rourke – 1922 (pictured), Frank Oberlin, Frankie Pytlak, Frank Quinn, Frank Smith, Frank Sullivan, Frank Tanana, Frank Truesdale and Frank Welch.

Fenway Franks

And, of course, a tip of the cap must go to the immortal Fenway Frank, despite its sinfully phallic shape and the questionable morality associated with industrial-sized vessels that squirt gobs of mustard and relish.