Tag Archives: Koji Uehara

Local man: Where Gronk ranks on list of most prolific beer drinkers in Boston sports history

BY FRANCIS FLYNN

CARVER, Mass.–I know everybody in the New England area is all up in arms over how cool it was that Rob Gronkowski chugged a few beers while on the Pats’ victory parade route yesterday. It’s amazing what a couple Natty lites’ll do for ya rep. The guy is a freaking hero for what he did this year. And he obviously knows how to have a good time.

Gronk chug

But I gotta say right now honestly and truly – Gronk has got a ways to go to become a party legend in my town. A long way.

Unknot yah panties and let me explain.

Let’s start off with the most obvious problem with annotating Gronk with the Greatest Boston Boozehound of All Time monikker. He can’t even burn a candle near Wade Boggs. We all know by now how much Wade drank back in the ‘80s. A buddy of mine taped that episode of Always Sunny in Philly with him in it and there was an entire storyline about Boggs and how he’d drink about two thirty racks on airplanes. Think about that – an entire episode of a TV show, aired two decades after he retires, talking about how much Wade Boggs could drink.

Wade on Always Sunny

Not for nothing but those 50 to 60 beer estimates people talk about are real numbers. They stood the test of time. And Wade’s drinking came from a lonely, dark, disturbing, and depraved place Rob’ll probably never have to deal with. Boggs didn’t pound beers while celebrating any World Series titles by rolling down a duck boat on Boylston Street. He was sneaking them on road trips, in his hotel rooms and in the clubhouse to quell his constant need for sex. Wade wasn’t dancing on stage at some nightclub with broads hangin off his arms like Gronk. He was drawing the shades in some seedy hotel to – lemme not get too graphic here – throw a quick one into a married woman.

Put it this way. We all knew he slammed ’em back when he was a Red Sox, but the only visual evidence Wade liked the sauce was in cartoon form. That’s frigging eerie.

Wade Boggs in a bar
So while I don’t doubt Rob parties harder than Wade did, let’s not get carried away by a few token acts of shotgunning. Wade treated every Marriott and Hilton room he stayed in from sea to foaming sea like it was his own private Duck Boat parade with beers.

There are a few other guys that’ve passed through town that could probably drink Gronkowski under the table.

Larry Bird? That guy drank like a fish and played 82 games a season, not 16. That’s a lot more running and it’s a lot harder to sneak a quick puke in during a timeout on a basketball court. Larry was the first (of many) high-profile stars to tell Dan Shaughnessy to fuck off because Shank wouldn’t stop asking him about some bar fight he got in.

The Boston Bruins, 1970-present. There’s a big difference between a fun drunk and a mean drunk. Guess who’s who when you talk about comparing Rob with just about any Broon?

Orr drinking from the Stanley Cup

Other guys – hmm, let’s see. A guy named Carl Yastrzemski from this here Miller Lite ad. You calling Yaz a liar?

And let’s not forget Bobby Lobel, Channel 4 sportscaster extraordinaire. The entire CBS network couldn’t have supplied enough on-air make-up to hide that guy’s gin blossoms. But he always kept it ultra professional and was always real functional. By the end of his career he got smart – he just started doing his shows in bars. Made things easier I bet.

Koji Uehara. That’s right! Koji. We totally sure this guy doesn’t have some sort of stomach of steel like his Japanese brethren who are always winning those hot dog eating contests?

Koji beer ad

Some former Sox pitchers from a few years back? Yeah, guh, think I heard a thing or two about that. The horror. And well, hell, even Jonny Gomes was publicly treating beer cans like footballs a year and a half before Gronk was able to get around to it. Just saying – this is not open and shut. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few.

jonny-gomes beers

In closing, I just wanna say Rob’s great. Love the guy to death. But let’s make the guy pay his dues here. He’s been here for five years. The guy’s got a chance to be a legend, but longevity and durability count. Let’s hold off on naming any tunnels after him just yet and see how quickly this guy gets back at it once that hangover sets in.

Lifelong Massachusetts resident Francis Flynn and site contributor is an avid Boston sports fan. He is known for his affinity for Heidi Watney and his occasional game stories. Flynn has agreed to take time out from his life’s work maintaining his cranberry bog to answer one pressing question per week for Fenway Pastoral.

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This Week in Boston Baseballing, July 25 – July 31 Trade Deadline Bonanza Edition

From SFGate.com

From SFGate.com

The Red Sox dropped two of three to the Rays in Tampa Bay over the weekend. (But only one of the losses was a shutout!) Boston followed that up by getting swept at home by the Blue Jays. All that turned out to be prelude for the busiest trade deadline in team history. The home crowd sensed it: By the end of the Toronto series the night of July 30, with news of a Jon Lester trade already imminent, fans at Fenway Park were chanting “Jon-ny Lest-er! Jon-ny Lest-er!” as the Jays put the finishing touch on the sweep.

Lester and Gomes Traded To Oakland
The trading partner (the Athletics) and the return (Yoenis Cespedes) may have been a surprise, but Jon Lester being sent to a top contender for a spot in the World Series was not. On NBC Sports, Craig Calcaterra categorized the trade as a Win-Win:

It’s more complicated for Boston, obviously, but it all comes down to what you think of the Red Sox’ chances to contend in 2015. If you think they’re sunk and need to rebuild, sure, you lament the fact that you didn’t get prospects. I don’t think that’s the case however. I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to think they’ll bounce back in 2015 and adding Cespedes to what has been a troublesomely non-productive outfield is a big boost in that regard. No, he was not indispensable in Oakland, but he’s coming to a good hitters park in Boston and represents a solid upgrade. On defense too, where he will be paired in the outfield with Jackie Bradley Jr., giving the Sox some awesome D in the outfield.

The idea that Boston was looking toward 2015 was the conventional wisdom from several other observers too.

 

On top of that reasoning, it was comforting to note that Cespedes’ 17 homers in 2014 would have been mostly of the ‘no-doubt’ variety if they were hit in Fenway Park.

John Lackey to the Cardinals
With news still settling on the Lester deal, word came Thursday early afternoon that John Lackey and his quite desirable $500k 2015 salary was headed to St. Louis in exchange for OF Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly. Craig’s WAR as of yesterday was -0.4 as his batting average and OBP have taken a major hit due to some bad batted ball luck (.368 BABIP in 2013 vs. .281 in 2014). He has in theory, however, bounce back potential over the long-term although he is already 30 years old.

Equally intriguing is Kelly, a 26-year-old right-hander with an underwhelming K/9 ratio but a high rate of ground balls induced. St. Louis has used him as a reliever for a portion of this season but his long-term value is as a mid-rotation starter who is still under club control for four more years.

Dave Cameron on FanGraphs doesn’t see the team’s sudden stockpile of right-handed hitting outfielders (Craig, Cespedes, Victorino) as an issue…yet:

The Red Sox are in asset collection mode. Joe Kelly is a pretty nifty asset to collect, and Allen Craig is a lottery ticket who might be good, might be terrible, or might not last very long in Boston. There’s no way of knowing what the 2015 Red Sox are going to look like, but they’re doing a nice job of giving themselves options. Their current pieces don’t all fit together, but they’ve got another eight months to figure out who should stay and who should go.

On ESPN Insider, Keith Law was less enthusiastic about the return on Lackey, but only because Law is operating under the dubious assumption that the pitcher would indeed pitch for the league minimum in 2015. (Spoiler alert: he wouldn’t…)

Craig’s only due $25.5 million over the next three years. So even if he only gets back to a 2-WAR level, he’ll be a good value. If he’s still limited by the Lisfranc fracture he suffered in his foot last year, perhaps another offseason of rest will help restore his old production.

Was Lackey worth more than this given his salary for next year? Assuming he’s true to his word and won’t hold out or demand an extension, I think he was, yes. He’s worth $15-20 million for a full season on the open market. His thrifty contract makes him incredibly valuable for one year, perhaps even valuable enough that his team deserved a higher-impact player than either Craig or Kelly.

Jake Peavy Goes to the Giants
Like Calcaterra’s view on the Lester/Cespedes deal, Tony Blengino on FanGraphs applauded the Peavy deal as a Win-Win for both sides:

The Red Sox and Giants struck a Saturday morning near-trading deadline special, with Jake Peavy headed west in exchange for pitching prospects Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree, with the clubs splitting Peavy’s $5M remaining 2014 salary. As with most of this month’s trades to date, real, actual, solid prospects were netted by the selling club. In this case, they’re both pretty close to big league ready. Before anyone rushes to call this a clear win for the Giants – Peavy is 1-9, 4.72, for the season, after all – let’s take a closer look at what the Giants are getting, and how Peavy fits into his new environment.

We wish Peavy luck in San Fran, where he should see a reversal of fortune thanks to a larger outfield in his home park that will potentially suppress a few homers over the final two months. As Blengino noted, that one win over the span of nearly four months can’t be blamed on a simple loss of stuff from Peavy.

Truth be told, post-peak Jake Peavy was never a particularly good fit in Fenway Park. He has always been a fairly extreme fly ball pitcher, and that in general is not a good thing to be in that environment. Utilizing my own 2013 park factors, based on granular batted ball data, Fenway had the second highest fly ball park factor, at a whopping 151.1. It’s been ever worse in 2014, at 165.5. Routine fly balls often become doubles in Fenway. Overall, including all batted ball types, Fenway had the highest doubles park factor in 2013, at 125.

Drew to the Yankees; Miller to the Orioles
Finally, the Sox let their two division rivals sweat it out a while on Thursday before dealing a couple of useful veterans to the Yankees and Orioles as they tool up for what could be a hotly contested AL East race. By the time news of these two deals came through just before 4 p.m., they almost felt like afterthoughts. However, the Red Sox acquired another top 100 left-handed pitching prospect from the O’s in 21-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez. Boston saves some cash by sending the remaining two months of Stephen Drew’s contract to New York in exchange for Kelly Johnson. Any other year, this could be looked upon by cynics as the team unnecessarily aiding its biggest rival. But with Oakland adding Lester to its staff and Detroit swinging a trade for David Price, the marginal upgrade of adding Drew does little to shift the balance of power in the American League pennant race away from three clear favorites in Oakland, Detroit and Anaheim.

Theo Poaches Doubront
Former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein acquired Felix Doubront from Boston on Wednesday in exchange for a player to be named later. A sly move on Epstein’s part, he gets a durable left-handed starter for what is likely to be pennies on the dollar.

One More Year of Koji?
For those lamenting a less recognizable roster in 2015, Sean McAdam reported Monday that executives in the industry expected the Red Sox to extend a qualifying offer to Koji Uehara for 2015. The club resisted the urge to deal the closer as part of its myriad dealings yesterday, electing instead to retain him for the remainder of the season in order to keep its qualifying offer in tact.


If the Sox dealt Uehara, there would be nothing to stop them from attempting to re-sign him after the season, as they might do in the case of a trade involving either Miller or Lester…But they would lose the mechanism of the qualifying offer and have to compete with other teams, some of whom might be willing to give him more than a year. If the Sox hold onto Uehara and he’s offered $15 million for next season, it’s inconceivable that he would turn that down.

Could Christian Vazquez Be the Goods?
On FoxSports.com, Gabe Kapler wrote that Boston’s 3-2 win against the Rays on Sunday was due in large part to the rookie catcher’s “quiet glove”:

It took an advanced receiver to effectively manage the likes of Allen Webster on this day. Webster featured a heavy sinker and was all over the strike zone, in and out, throwing 42 strikes and 44 balls. A handful of those strikes were a figment of the umpire’s imagination, a credit to Vazquez’s confident, delicate pitch-framing ability….

Throughout the game, however, Vazquez handled every type of pitch beautifully – and in various locations. He set up quietly, displaying his target with ideal timing, was visibly invested in the batter’s setup, and in charge of the pitcher at every turn. Additionally, he manipulated and condensed his body to present an ideal target.

With the influx of pitching talent on its way to Boston over the past week, it’s nice to know that the team has two of the game’s best catching prospects in Vazquez and Blake Swihart.

This Week in Boston Baseballing, April 11 – April 17

The Red Sox lost three of four in New York over the weekend as the offense continues to sputter. In Chicago, Boston dropped the opener before coming back for two last at-bat wins against the White Sox, including a 14-inning affair on Wednesday night. The team has now managed just 56 runs in 16 games but still sports a 7-9 record and a fairly neutral run differential (-4) thanks to strong efforts like Jon Lester’s one-run, eight-inning performance Thursday night.

The Replay Debate
On Sunday night, the deciding run for the Yankees scored as the end result of a review that overturned a potential inning-ending double play. The galling part of the reversal was that a play that was equally – if not more conclusive on replay – was not overturned the day before because reviewers seemed to be looking at different camera feeds. A frustrated John Farrell cast his vote on the matter.

Embed from Getty Images

In the immediate aftermath of Boston’s loss, Red Sox Nation, with thought-leaders like Boston.com’s Eric Wilbur showing the way, hasn’t come around on the whole replay thing.

Replay survey

If baseball weren’t mired in the dark ages in most things technology as they pertain to on-field play, flaws in the system could have been ironed out sometime less embarrassingly late like, say, during the flip-phone era. At some point this year, replay will aid in wininng a game for the Sox and the colors on the map above will look a little different.

Twitter: Giving Media Undeserved Fodder Since 2007
Poor Xander Bogaerts. He’s deleted his Twitter account because a woman sent a sexy photo of herself to him and he accidentally posted the private message to his feed. Dude’s a 21-year-old budding baseballing star and, as is won’t to happen, ladies respond to that kind of thing.

The photo, courtesy of Awful Announcing. (Indeed.)

bogaertslasttweet

The photo isn’t even particularly racy unless you’ve been in a coma since 1985. If so, welcome back. Also, 1984 first-round pick John Marzano never really panned out as hoped. Sorry you had to find out this way.

Red Sox Exercise Caution With Koji
Koji Uehara’s shoulder discomfort led to some extra caution for the team in New York. Uehara went back to Boston and was given a decent bill of health and rejoined the team in Chicago, picking up the save last night and reassuming his closer role. Good seeing him draped over David Ortiz’s shoulder in the duo’s signature celebratory pose.

Embed from Getty Images

Ortiz Coming Out of His Funk?
A lot of Boston’s offensive struggles in the early going of 2014 can be explained by David Ortiz’s sub .700 OPS. Papi is the lynchpin of the offense and two homers in 16 games is concerning. Chicago’s Adam Eaton took away a solid bid for a third last night. It may just be a matter of time…

Embed from Getty Images

 

This Week in Boston Baseballing, October 25 – 31

Boston’s weekend in St. Louis started off pretty rudely Saturday night thanks to a baserunner obstruction call against Will Middlebrooks that gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead in the 2013 World Series. However, that loss would prove to be the team’s last defeat of the season. Boston would come back to win a tight game the next night thanks to a gutsy effort from Clay Buchholz on Sunday. The Red Sox managed to beat Adam Wainwright for a second time on Monday before heading home and clinching its third World Series championship in the last 10 years on Wednesday night. It was the first time the team had clinched a world title at Fenway Park since 1918. There will be a parade in Boston on Saturday.

Game 6 itself wasn’t much of a game in the HOLY SHIT GAME 6! way that some other Game 6’s in the team’s history have played out. Shane Victorino hit a double off the wall with the bases loaded in the 3rd inning off Michael Wacha. John Lackey made the lead stick from there. The Red Sox had a 99% win probability by the 7th inning and Carlos Beltran’s RBI single only moved the needle down to 97%.

Game 6 win probability
Source: FanGraphs

Koji The Man On Front Pages
Boston Sports Media Watch had an exhaustive rundown of all the daily newspapers’ headlines on Thursday morning. Eleven out of the 15 papers featured on BSMW opted for variations of photos of Koji Uehara celebrating in the arms of catcher David Ross and other teammates. The Red Sox closer went from one of the least appreciated, recognizable guys on the team in his middle relief days to one of the most popular players on the team. But surprisingly, it was The Boston Herald coming through with maybe the best and most unique front page.

Herald Front Page 10/31/2013

The timely shot was taken after Jonny Gomes slid in safely at home to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead on Victorino’s wall ball. Our favorite part is on-deck hitter Xander Bogaerts joining Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz to help synchronize the safe call on Gomes along with the umpire. It is perfect and – as good as Uehara has been this year – this is the more appropriate lasting image of the 2013 team and its incredible season.

David Ortiz Wins World Series MVP
In almost any other year, Jon Lester’s two shutdown starts to beat one of the NL’s best in Wainwright twice would have earned him the MVP. But thanks to his well-documented, otherworldly performance, Big Papi had the MVP honors wrapped up pretty early.

Going into Game 6, Dave Cameron pointed out that:

Ortiz has played in 13 World Series games. In six of them, he has either scored or driven in a run on the play with the largest win probability added in the game. In other words, he has scored a run or had an RBI on the most important play of the game in almost half of his World Series games.

St. Louis finally decided not to pitch to Papi on Wednesday. Ortiz walked four times – three intentionally – and scored two runs. So to amend Cameron’s note:

Ortiz has played in 13 14 World Series games. In six seven of them, he has either scored or driven in a run on the play with the largest win probability added in the game. In other words, he has scored a run or had an RBI on the most important play of the game in almost half of his World Series games.

The Obstruction Call and the Role of Intent
Sam Miller at Baseball Prospectus summed up the Will Middlebrooks obstruction issue pretty soundly in a piece posted Sunday morning. Many Red Sox fans have argued over intent – or more specifically the absence of clear intent to obstruct. But the rulebook, as it stands now, basically goes out of its way to exclude the need for interpretation of a fielder’s intent.

…At the end of Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment, it lays out this exact scenario: “For example: if an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner.” It’s so specific. It is as though this play happened and they wrote the rule immediately after with a play exactly like this one in mind. And the rule they came up with is… ambivalent! “He very likely has obstructed the runner.” Not “he has,” but “he very likely has.” Probably. Maybe. Up to you to decide. Use your best judgment. What am I, God?

The guess here is that come next year, sufficient language will be written into the rulebook to ensure that the grounds for the call made against Middlebrooks will either be set in stone with some less ambivalent, more specific parameters. Or, if MLB really wants to keep things interesting, it could open up such plays as judgement calls that are reviewable on replay.

Jacoby Ellsbury Is Probably A Goner
ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote in the wake of the euphoria Thursday morning that the Red Sox center-fielder is probably headed elsewhere, based mainly on how far away the team and his agent were two years ago.

According to sources: After the 2011 season, for which Ellsbury finished second in the American League MVP race, the Red Sox offered him a deal that fell slightly short of $100 million. The counter-offer from agent Scott Boras, according to sources, was for a deal of about $130 million. The gap in the negotiations was too large to bridge at that time.

There is a possibility that with GM Ben Cherington now fully at the helm, the gulf may narrow. But odds are that gap is even larger now, especially with Cherington coming off the high of a World Series in which several bargain bin guys contributed. He may very well be licking his chops at the chance to find this offseason’s version of Shane Victorino.

Cardinals Play-by-Play Man’s Laughter Turns to Misery
As Marc Normandin on Over the Monster wrote, the best part about Kolten Wong being picked off first to end Game 5 was that Cardinals play-by-play guy Michael Shannon took the Red Sox to task for even holding the runner on first base. Shannon even began laughing, calling the whole thing “silly.”

(From the Washington Post)

(From the Washington Post)

John Henry Explains His Newly Purchased Newspaper Project
John Henry said all the right things in an editorial from Saturday in which he explained his purchase of The Boston Globe and Boston.com. The piece is chock-full of lofty language and platitudes regarding civic responsibility and encouraging influential thinking and being a catalyst for activism. The Red Sox principal owner even went so far as to cite his political idealism that budded in the 1960s when he joined the civil rights movement and volunteered to assist in presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy’s campaign.

John Henry globe

It’s still difficult to get a good read on Henry’s angle here. But the guy deserves some credit for outlining in such detail his intentions for acquiring an embattled business.

I soon realized that one of the key things the paper needed in order to prosper was private, local ownership, passionate about its mission. And so decisions about The Boston Globe are now being made here in Boston. The obligation is now to readers and local residents, not to distant shareholders. This, ideally, will foster even bolder and more creative thinking throughout the organization, which is critical in an industry under so much stress.

Meanwhile, Henry’s plans for Boston.com are vaguely grandiose. But, unfortunately, the continued polarization of pay-worthy content and the garbage people will only read for free likely means more moronic stories such as a local woman finding a green pepper that looks like a Red Sox “B” as she prepared a taco prior to Game 6.

Baseball Bloggers Alliance Awards Ballot: American League

BBA

Ballots for Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) awards are due prior to the first pitch of the World Series tomorrow night at Fenway Park. Fulfilling our duty as part of the BBA, here are Fenway Pastoral’s picks for 2013 American League awards.

AL Manager of the Year (Connie Mack Award) – John Farrell
The decision came down to a couple of first-year managers–Terry Francona and John Farrell. It’s been two years since Francona’s exit from Boston and the subsequent smear campaign that some front office members inexplicably deemed to be somehow necessary. It is worth noting that Tito is the most accomplished manager in Red Sox team history. And somehow his success in Cleveland this year may have been his best managing job yet, once the talent level and payroll he was working with in Boston is taken into consideration. Francona deserves all the accolades that comes his way.

If ballots for this award were due prior to the start of the playoffs, Tito would have been the clear-cut selection. By late September, Farrell had already been getting more than his fair share of credit for the job he did turning the Red Sox around from worst to first in the AL East. But postseason games dictate that managers employ their highest level of intelligence and in-game strategy. Unfortunately for Tito, his playoff run ended after a loss in the one-game Wild Card play-in. So far, Farrell has had 10 games over the ALDS and ALCS to show his true skill. And that’s where he wins out. He has been close to unassailable in his deft bullpen usage, lineup changes (i.e. Bogaerts better late than never) and other various play-calls. He is working with a ton of talent on his roster – more than Francona – but in terms of the sheer act of “managing,” what Farrell has shown this October is just too impressive to overlook.

John Farrell ALCS

AL Top Reliever (Goose Gossage Award) – Koji Uehara
Uehara has had one of the best seasons for a relief pitcher in the history of the game. Koji just did not have many peers in other AL bullpens heading into October. After taking over the reigns as closer, Koji took his dominance to a new level. By September, every time Uehara threw the first pitch of a given appearance that the umpire called a ball, there was a feeling of deflation distantly akin to those Pedro Martinez starts after he gave up the first hit of the game. With that out of the way, since we considered October performance in the manager voting, we did the same here. Even if the home run Uehara allowed to Jose Lobaton in Tampa had ultimately helped to cost Boston the ALDS and he never had the opportunity to win ALCS MVP honors, his regular season resume was way too commanding to lose this “crown.”

AL Top Rookie (Willie Mays Award) – Wil Myers
As Red Sox supporters, it’s important for us to note that it wasn’t exactly Fred Lynn in ‘75 or anything…but the Rays outfielder had a pretty solid rookie season.

AL Top Pitcher (Walter Johnson Award) – Max Scherzer
There wasn’t a ton of difference between Felix Hernandez, Anibel Sanchez and Max Scherzer aside from the number of Wins accumulated. Whether you prefer to lean on FIP or noisier statistics like ERA, the case for Sanchez is very strong. Meanwhile, both Sanchez and Scherzer were nearly unhittable during their first starts against Boston in the ALCS before looking significantly less dominant the second time around. We settled on Scherzer based on the 30-plus extra innings he threw during the regular season and the fact that his bullpen made his postseason stats look a lot worse than the reality.

AL Top Player (Stan Musial Award) – Mike Trout
God bless the BBA for its simple terminology here. Nobody is going to parse the definition of “top” as a modifying adjective, right?

This Week in Boston Baseballing, October 4 – 10

Much to the chagrin of local media yahoos who declared the Best of 5 Division Series “over” after two games, Boston did indeed travel to Tampa Bay and it actually took the Red Sox four games to take care of the Rays to advance to the American League Championship Series. Boston will face the Detroit Tigers in ALCS Game 1 at Fenway Park on Saturday night.

Kudos to NESN’s Jenny Dell, who broke the news first on Twitter mere minutes after last night’s deciding ALDS game against Detroit and Oakland went final at the Coliseum last night.

 

Big Papi and Koji Uehara: Two Heterosexual Guys Celebrating A Playoff Series Win
Look, let’s all be adults about this here. For one thing, somebody sped up the footage here to make it appear more suggestive….

Click to enlarge, be horrified

(GIF courtesy of OvertheMonster.com.)

And for another, Koji could be seen earlier celebrating with catcher David Ross in a similar fashion, complete with a similar fist raise. Koji!

Koji celebrates with Ross

Ticket Prices Remain Reasonable for ALCS Games 1 and 2
The secondary market for tickets to the first two games of the ALCS Saturday and Sunday was relatively soft as of Friday morning. Strangely, upper-tier bleacher seats were listed on Stubhub for around $150.00-$200.00, right around the same going rate as unobstructed infield grandstand seats behind home plate.

Stubhub ALCS G1

The “Most Expensive World Series” In History Won’t Happen
A Forbes article from Wednesday broached the possibility that if the Pirates and Red Sox had advanced to the World Series, tickets to the games at Fenway Park and PNC Park would have reached historic peaks.

It would be the first World Series in Pittsburgh since Three Rivers, and the first world series there in a real baseball stadium since Bill Mazeroski walked off against the Yankees….If that were to happen, it could be the most expensive World Series in history, with two teams with average prices above $1,500.

It would also be the first time that an American League team from Boston played a National League team from Pittsburgh in the post-season since 1903. That was the year that the Boston Americans of the newly-formed American League beat the favored Pittsburgh Pirates in a best-of-nine series. It was the first ever World Series and neither Forbes Field or Fenway Park were even a twinkle in the eye of the baseball Gods. Forbes Field opened in 1909 and Fenway Park opened in 1912.

Xander Bogaerts Draws Two Huge Walks, Proves He Belongs
In his first postseason at-bat, 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts fell behind in the count 1-2 before working a key walk that spurred Boston’s series-clinching, two-run rally in the sixth inning in Tampa on Tuesday night. Earlier that day, Farrell had insinuated Bogey was perhaps still not quite ready for prime time when explaining why he’d not pinch hit for Stephen Drew against a lefty in Game 3 the night before. Well, a day later Farrell exercised his right to change his mind. Just in case there was any question that it was a fluke, Bogaerts worked a second full count before drawing another walk two innings later. He would score an insurance run prior to Koji Uehara’s dominant ninth inning.

Jake Peavy Comes Through
Right-handed veteran Jake Peavy gave the Red Sox 5 ⅔ key innings in the clincher in Tampa in what was by far the best postseason start of his career. While he was a more accomplished pitcher earlier in his career, Peavy could still very much be in the process of penning his ultimate legacy.

In an interview posted on Fangraphs earlier this week, the former Cy Young winner remarked about his transformation, which has included changes to his arm slot and the development of a cutter in the wake of diminished fastball velocity and a lower ground-ball rate compared to his peak.

“Everybody in the world has a way they throw a baseball. They start that from the time they’re a youngster and go from there. You can look at guys who people say have the best mechanics in the world, and their arms may not last. You have other guys who throw in an unorthodox fashion and never have an arm injury. I don’t think anybody has it down to an exact science. But I also don’t think anybody is going to watch me and say, ‘Hey, son, watch the way Jake Peavy throws. Let’s mimic that.’ Not too many people are teaching their kids to throw the way I throw.”

Craig Breslow May Be Pitching Even More Than Usual
The left-handed reliever threw 3 ⅔ scoreless innings in the Rays series and demonstrated no difficulty getting right-handed hitters out (1 for 9). Breslow was in fact better in 2013 against righties (.205 AVG) than lefties (.253) and, overall, threw the equivalent of almost 10 more innings against right-handers (34 ⅔) than lefties (25 innings).

Going into the ALCS, John Farrell’s confidence in Breslow seems to be at its peak. Detroit’s 3-4-5 hitters are Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez (righty, lefty, switch). Cabrera’s power has been sapped in recent weeks by groin and abdominal strains. It would not be a surprise to see Breslow face the likely AL MVP once or twice as his ability to get strikes on outside breaking balls could prove a key asset.

This Week in Boston Baseballing, Sept. 13 – 19

The Red Sox swept the Yankees in impressive fashion at Fenway Park over the weekend. Their six wins in seven games against New York this month have helped to nudge the Yankees’ playoff hopes on to last rites. Boston wrapped up a three-game series against the visiting Orioles last night by winning 3-1 behind the strength of a John Lackey complete game two-hitter.

The Sox suffered two frustrating late-innings losses to Baltimore at home on Tuesday and Wednesday. On the bright side, the team hasn’t lost a game by more than three runs in more than a month (August 16, a 10-3 loss to the Yankees). When the team scores four runs or more, it is just about unstoppable. The Red Sox haven’t lost a game in which they have scored more than four runs since August 9 (a 9-6 loss in Kansas City).

Boston Clinches A 163rd Game …
The Red Sox secured a spot in the MLB postseason with the win on Thursday night. However, nine other teams will enjoy that privilege during the next 10 days. The real prize will come with Boston’s next win and/or the next Tampa Bay loss as the team’s magic number to clinch the AL East now stands at one.

… Now A World Series Favorite
The Detroit Tigers are projected to win the World Series more often than Boston, according to systems such as Cool Standings and Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds. However, on a public level, the action seems to be swaying toward Boston as the prohibitive favorite to come out of the American League. The Red Sox were listed at 2/1 on Bovada as of this morning.

The narrative structure is now pretty well solidified heading into October. A season that began with the team looking middling at best, a team many figured would be lucky to have a record above .500, is going to win 95-98 games and may have had one of the best regular seasons in two generations. But expectations will continuously be revised during the postseason as the team advances, if the team advances.

The 2013 Red Sox season has already been a sparkling success. But if Boston gets bounced in the playoffs, will the feeling of satisfaction amongst the overwhelming bulk of the fanbase be reflected in the post mortems written by columnists?

1-2-3 Koji Gives Up A Run
Koji Uehara’s perfect streak ended at 37 batters on Tuesday night, when Baltimore scratched a run off the closer in its 3-2 victory at Fenway Park. As Jonah Keri wrote Wednesday, Koji’s streak was the best run by a closer since 1960 in terms of opponents’ OPS allowed. Uehara allowed a combined on-base percentage and slugging percentage of .214. The next lowest number was .337 by Robb Nen in 2000.

Valencia triple over Victorino

Shane Victorino deviated just enough from the optimal path to this ball hit by Danny Valencia that it landed over his head for a leadoff triple in the Orioles’ ninth.

Shane Victorino’s Thumb Hurts
Due to a jammed thumb, Victorino was wearing what looked to be multiple pieces of padding/gloving on his right thumb during his final at-bat on Wednesday night. He gutted his way through it and wound up getting jammed inside on the final pitch, but his pop-up fell safely in no-man’s land in left-center field. Shane has been battling nagging pains all year and it wouldn’t be surprising if he gets a few games off. And there could be added upside to this thumb thing if it keeps Victorino from attempting to bunt 15 times during each playoff game.

When Supposedly “Grown Men” Deploy The Chemistry Argument
On Monday, WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan brought in NBC Sports blogger Craig Calcaterra to discuss to what extent team chemistry has contributed to Boston’s success this season. Sidekick Kirk Minihane and Calcaterra advocated tempering the impact things like some players saying “Hey, let’s all grow beards” actually has on winning professional baseball games. The subtraction of some less popular minorities like Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford and the addition of whiter-hued guys like Mike Napoli and Gomes undoubtedly had something to do with their predictable stance.

Calcaterra summed up his experience:

At one point they said that Adrian Gonzalez is magically no longer a team cancer because he’s back in California and players from California are happier in California. I pointed out that Jonny Gomes was from California but that didn’t go over too well because, you know, facts. I didn’t get a chance to mention that Gomes’ “wins everywhere he plays” only works when you cut out the bulk of his career spent in Tampa Bay with the Devil Rays.

But hey, just because they call it talk radio doesn’t mean everyone gets to talk. There are some folks who, when they invite someone on who doesn’t agree with their nonsense, change it to “only I talk” radio.

The chemistry argument is a convenient one for posers like John Dennis and Gerry Callahan, who have perfected the dumb art of talking about sports for a living rather than actually watching games and making analytical sense of the sport. They are paid to establish circuitous, pointless arguments that can be constantly revised by either side based on even the slightest bit of recent, anecdotal evidence. Sports talk radio is verbal bukkake, and Dennis and Callahan always seem to have their dicks aimed and ready.