Tuesday, December 25, 2012

December 25th - a VERY special day

On December 25th last year, I reflected on how that day made me remember something very special that happened a long time ago. But this year, it has a very special meaning all on its own.  Yes, as I'm sure you've all guessed already, December 25th is the Baseball Solstice.  A big thank you to Dan at The Ball Caps Blog for reminding us all of this.  As fresh as our memories are of the 2012 season, and as distant as next season seems, after the 25th we will be closer to the start of Spring Training than to the end of the World Series. It is the day the furthest away from baseball all year - and although that may be a reason for sadness and despair, we need to realize that just as everyday has already started to get longer, we are also now getting closer to baseball.  I can't wait for the smell of fresh grass, the sound of the crack of the bat, the excitement of watching our Red Sox win games.... well, regardless of what happens, 2 out of 3 ain't bad.

So remember even though the weather outside may be frightful, and with no games on, you have no place to go... it won't be long before you hear the call of "PLAY BALL!".(*)

Happy Holidays everyone :)

(*) As an umpire, I hate to perpetuate the myth that games start with this call.  Umpires only say "PLAY!" to start a game, but this phrase is more popular and traditional in our collective social consciousness so I'm going to go with it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Another Canadian joins the Red Sox

(Greg M. Cooper / USA TODAY Sports)
British Columbia native Ryan Dempster has been signed by the Red Sox for the next two seasons. Dempster will join a long list of Canadians who have been part of the Crimson Hose in recent memory.  These include Jason Bay, Matt Stairs, Eric Gagne, George Kottaras, Adam Stern, Mike Gardiner, Erik Bedard and Chris Reitsma who was drafted in the 1st round but never played home games at Fenway.

Being Canadian myself, I usually want the Red Sox to acquire as many Canucks as possible. However, I was less then overly enthusiastic when I heard Dempster's name linked to the Red Sox.  With other free agent starting pitchers available, I did not think he was the best choice. What I knew about him, was that he has played most of his career in the National League and that his brief stint in Texas last year resulted in an ERA north of 5. And not being a fastball pitcher, we all know that when pitchers move from the NL to the AL, they get exposed as they can't dominate our hitters like they could in the National League.  Oh year, he's not getting any younger.  Sigh.  But thanks to the good folks at the Sons of Sam Horn, a bunch of very positive points have emerged about this signing:

Take a look at the 2 lines of nearly identical stats below over the past 3 seasons:.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Best Baseball Players not in the Hall of Fame

At the fine "Baseball: Past and Present" website, it is time for their annual project where readers rank the 50 best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame.  This always makes for some interesting reading, so rather than just vote this year, I am helping to spread the word.  If you want to have your say, it's simple.  Just go to this Google form and fill it out!  This reference list has over 400 names that you may want to consider.   Remember when filling out the ballot, to include a Y or N to indicate if you think they should be in the Hall of Fame or not.  For example, you may think players such as Shoeless Joe Jackson or Pete Rose are among the best players not in the Hall, but feel they don't deserve to be in.  The full details are on the original post here.

You can also take a look at The Hall of Nearly Great to read some great stories about several players that are not in Cooperstown.  This book has a compilation of some excellent writers talking about their favourite players including Dale Murphy, Keith Hernandez, Don Mattingly, John Olerud  and Fred McGriff, all of whom are worthy of consideration for top 50 missing from Cooperstown.  As well, as Red Sox fans you can read about Luis Tiant, Dwight Evans and Ellis Burks.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Blue Jays trade analysis - part deux

Dead Blue Jay
Yesterday I wrote about the Jays recent trade and warned fans not to have high expectations, based on the results of some other blockbuster deals or big signings. I outlined several examples over the past 10 or so years where teams added major parts in the offseason and didn't get the results they expected.

That's all well and good, but just because some big trades don't pan out, doesn't mean that they all won't.  So today, I'm going to look at the specific players involved in this trade, and analyze how much of an impact they can be expected to provide.

The players the Blue Jays received were Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Blue Jays blockbuster = 2013 World Series?

I just wrote a post on my Baseball in Alberta blog about what impact the Blue Jays trade could have locally. As a Red Sox fan, I realize that it impacts our team as well, so I am reposting here, with a few edits.

Our division rival, the Toronto Blue Jays pulled off a blockbuster deal and have added 4 all-star players to their roster.  Money aside (Rogers still has a few excess billions), the only cost was  a controversial shortstop (whom will be replaced by one of the premier shortstops in the league), an under-performing pitcher and some prospects.  And although some of these prospects might pan out in future years, it’s not as though any of them were the kind of prospects that your average baseball fan was following in the minors – a la Bryce Harper or Jesus Montero. In fact it wasn’t even the top organizational prospects – but their consensus #2, 5 and 8 guys.

Should we concede the division right away?  Do we have no hope of competing against the re-tooled Blue Jays next season?  Not so fast.....

This trade will make Toronto a better team for the immediate future.  It may even help their chances of making the playoffs, but we're jumping to conclusions if we assume any more than that.  Remember how we felt when we added A-Gon and Carl Crawford to our already potent lineup?  It was a foregone conclusion that we would win the division, most of the chatter around the baseball message boards was if we would break the 100 win barrier or not.

Anyhow, there are two ways we can look at this:  Look at individual player's impacts, or look at what history tells us about the fate of teams that made huge acquisitions, bolstering their rosters in hope of attaining that elusive championship.  Today I'm going to start by looking at history for some parallels.  In my next post, I'll analyze this specific trade more closely.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Baseball Bloggers Alliance Award Winners

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance has completed naming its 2012 award winners.

As you'll recall, I made my picks right after the season finished.  There were some easy choices, but I made a few controversial choices. I ignored Jim Johnson's 51 saves, and selected Fernando Rodney for top reliever.  I picked Justin Verlander and his 17 wins for top pitcher while shunning 20 game winners David Price and Jered Weaver.  More egregiously, I ignored Miguel Cabrera's triple crown and selected Mike Trout as player of the year.  I had some very good reasons for doing so as outlined in my posts, but I expected to be in the minority.   Well, I am very pleasantly surprised to see the rest of my BBA brethren (and sistren!), selected the same award winners that I did.  Below are the AL and NL winners of the Alliance, with links to their site where you can see more details on the voting.

Connie Mack Award  (Manager of the Year)
AL: Bob Melvin
NL: Davey Johnson

Willie Mays Award (Top Rookie)
AL: Mike Trout
NL: Bryce Harper

Goose Gossage Award (Top Reliever)
AL: Fernando Rodney
NL: Craig Kimbrel

Walter Johnson Award (Top Pitcher)
AL: Justin Verlander
NL: RA Dickey

Stan Musial Award (Player of the Year)
AL: Mike Trout
NL: Buster Posey

Happy offseason to all my readers.  To get you through your baseball withdrawal, you can now get the great Out of The Park Baseball game for 50% off for the rest of the offseason, through this link.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Playoff Predictions Contest Recap

Before the playoffs started, I ran a predictions contest.  The winner receives his or her choice of a sports keychain from wholesalekeychain.com.  These are nice, I have a couple and really like them.  Below are all the entries, showing the winning (green) and losing (red) picks and scores tabulated.

Click to enlarge

Congratulations to Pat S. for winning. He not only had the most total points, but was the only entrant to correctly pick the Giants as the World Series champion.  A few interesting observations on the entries:

Friday, October 12, 2012

2012 American League Awards Recap

Over the past week, I have announced my picks for the American League half of the Baseball Blogger's Alliance awards.  The BBA will announce the member's collective choices next week.  Below is a summary of my ballots:  (Click on links for full post with explanations)

Connie Mack Award (Top Manager)
#1: Bob Melvin, Oakland
#2: Buck Showalter, Baltimore
#3: Robin Ventura, Chigaco

Willie Mays Awards (Top Rookie)
#1: Mike Trout
#2: Yoenis Cespedes
#3: Will Middlebrooks

Walter Johnson Award (Top Pitcher)
#1: Justin Verlander
#2: Felix Hernandez
#3: David Price
#4: Jered Weaver
#5: Chris Sale

Goose Gossage Award (Top Reliever)
#1: Fernando Rodney
#2: Jake McGee
#3: Greg Holland

Stan Musial Award (Top Player)
#1: Mike Trout
#2: Robinson Cano
#3: Miguel Cabrera
#4: Adrian Beltre
#5: Justin Verlander
#6: Ben Zobrist
#7: Felix Hernandez
#8: Alex Gordon
#9: Adam Jones
#10: Joe Mauer

2012 AL Stan Musial Award

All week I have been selecting my AL award winners that will go in my ballot for the Baseball Blogger's Alliance year end awards.  They will announce their winners next week on their site.

I have saved the most anticipated and controversial award for last.  This is the Stan Musial Award for Player of the Year.   This ultimately comes down to two guys. Miguel Cabrera who won the Triple Crown and led the Tigers to the playoffs, and Mike Trout who had an unbelievably good season, for a rookie or otherwise. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012 AL Goose Gossage Award

The penultimate award I get to vote on for the Baseball Blogger's Alliance year end awards is the American League Goose Gossage award for top reliever.   Once again, a lot of good closers with some eye-popping numbers.  Baltimore's Jim Johnson led the majors in saves with 51. Rafael Soriano got 42 saves after Rivera went on the DL.  Tampa's Fernando Rodney had an ERA of 0.60(!).

There was a time when we thought the closers with the most saves were the best relievers.  This was in the dark ages of baseball statistical enlightenment. Or as it was called at the time, the 1980s (or 1990s).   But I like to look a little deeper.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

2012 AL Walter Johnson Award

Yesterday I announced Mike Trout as my pick for winner of the Baseball Blogger's Alliance Willie Mays award for Rookie of the Year in the American League.  That was an extremely easy pick.  Today I tackle the Walter Johnson award for top pitcher.  This one required some more thinking.  There were several deserving candidates, and no clear cut choice.

Among the front runners there was David Price who tied for the league lead in wins with a sparkling 20-5 record and also led with a 2.56 ERA, and Jered Weaver who had the same record with a 2.81 ERA and led the majors in WHIP at 1.02.  And let's not forget Felix Hernandez who only won 13 games due partially to an anemic offense, but had 5 shutouts, an ERA of 3.06 and 223 strikeouts.  Chris Sale and Yu Darvish (just realized I forgot to mention him in my Rookie of the Year post - wouldn't matter he wouldn't beat Trout anyways) had excellent campaigns as well, and I don't want to neglect CC Sabathia who had an average season for him... aka a great season for any other pitcher.  And there were also some relievers with out of this world numbers. Baltimore's Jim Johnson saved 51 games and meanwhile Tampa's Francisco Rodney didn't give up any runs all season.  Ok, he must have given up a couple while I blinked because he has a non-zero ERA, but just barely at an incredible 0.60.

With so many deserving candidates, whose name is this blog going to put for the 2012 American League Walter Johnson Award?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Red Sox keychains review from Wholesalekeychain.com

I just received a pair of keychains from WholesaleKeychain.com and wanted to share my thoughts with my readers.   The first keychain is the bottle opener one pictured on the left.  This keychain is awesome.  It is light, yet sturdy enough to hold all my keys. It is also extremely convenient.  How many times do you grab a bottle out of a cooler at a party and it's not a twist off?  You have to find the host... interrupt them... have them track down a bottle opener... by the time you get back that cute girl you were talking with is now talking to some other guy - probably a Yankees fan. Sigh.  Well, with this in your pocket you won't have to worry about that ever again.  And when you pull it out of your pocket, everyone will know you're a diehard fan and not afraid to show off your allegiance.

The other keychain I got is the white round leather one shown to the right.  This one is a bit smaller but was still able to hold all my keys (and memory stick, and frequent shopper key tags - quite a mass of stuff I carry on it).  It seems sturdy and very well made.  As well I had it personalized on the back.  On the left is a picture of the finished product.  I apologize for the quality of the photograph, but it says

Red Sox

I think it looks quite sharp!  You can get most of their keychains engraved for a small additional fee.

I just wish I had that bottle opener one while the Red Sox were still playing. Bobby V drove me to drink more times than I care to admit.   And remember the winners of the playoff prediction contest will get to choose a sports keychain of their choice from WholesaleKeychain.com.

Disclaimer: The thoughts above are entirely my own. I was given these sample keychains in return for writing a review, but this is my honest opinion and no other compensaion was received for this post.

2012 AL Willie Mays Award

Awards week continues.  After naming Oakland's Bob Melvin the winner of BBA's Connie Mack Award, today I get the honour of selecting the American League Willie Mays Award winner for best rookie.

There was a great crop of rookies in the AL this season.  Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes was a big part of the reason the A's surprised the baseball world by winning the AL West.  Chris Carter was another big part.  He only got called up in late June and hit 16 home runs in 67 games.  Boston's Will Middlebrooks got called up in May and was such a hot hitter he forced the Red Sox to trade away perennial all-star Kevin Youkilis. Baltimore called up prospect Manny Machado when they were fighting neck and neck with Tampa for the last wildcard spot. With him in the lineup they pulled away and almost caught the Yankees for the division.  In other seasons any of these players might have been good candidates to win the Rookie of the Year. But who to give it to this year?

Monday, October 8, 2012

2012 AL Connie Mack Award

As a member of the Baseball Blogger's Alliance, I have the privilege of voting for all the end-of-season awards.   The first one I am announcing this year is the Connie Mack for the Manager of the Year.

There were a lot of good candidates this year:
- Buck Showalter took a team that should have been barely .500 based on their runs scored differential, and won 93 games, and had a shot at the AL East division right up to the last day of the season.

- Bob Melvin took an Oakland team that traded away some of their best players in the offseason, and shocked the Rangers to win the AL West division.

-Robin Ventura took over the White Sox from Ozzie Guillen who failed to get them to .500, and had them atop the AL Central until the last week of the season

Sunday, October 7, 2012

BBA Awards

As we settle in to watch the playoffs, it's also time to start thinking of the year end awards.  Over the next few days I will  post on this blog my ballot for each of the main awards.  As part of the Baseball Blogger's Alliance, I will be voting on the following awards for the American League:

Connie Mack Award (Best Manager)
Willie Mays Award  (Top Rookie)
Goose Gossage Award (Best Reliever)
Walter Johnson Award (Best Pitcher)
Stan Musial Award (Best Player)

There won't be a lot of suspense for some of these but I expect that there will be some that will generate some discussion and/or controversy.  I will do my best to explain why I made the choices I did in each post.
I will be disclosing one winner each day this week.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

MLB Playoff predictions

Now that all the playoff matchups have been set, it is time for me to make postseason predictions.  But in keeping true to the spirit of this site, these will be based on the amount of Canadian (and bonuses for Albertan) content of the playoff rosters, as well as links to Red Sox players.

Let’s start with the American League:  The wildcard match features the Texas Rangers who will host the surprising Baltimore Orioles.  The O’s don’t have any Canadians or any former Red Sox players.  Texas has BC native Ryan Dempster as an available arm, as well as former Red Sox Adrian Beltre and David Murphy in the lineup. 
This is an easy pick – Texas will advance to the LDS.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Revisiting the new playoff structure

Here we are in the first year of the new playoff structure.  Let’s see how it’s improved over the previous imperfect format.  First of all, what are the similarities?  Well, in the NL all 3 division winners, Nationals, Reds and Giants would be in the playoffs, and getting their rotations set for the LDS regardless of which system was in use.  And in the AL, the Red Sox would have been eliminated a long time ago.  This is where the similarities end. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Playoff Prediction Contest

RSN Alberta is pleased to announce that we are  running a contest to predict who will win each of the playoff series. Like most of these types of contests, you will need to predict the winners of all the Series before the first one starts.  So an early upset might ruin your entire ballot.  Conversely, if you pick an under dog to win it all, and they do, there is a good chance you will be the grand prize winner.  Here’s a hint – Don’t pick the Red Sox.  No really.  I know they have the best team on paper, and only injuries prevented them from winning 100 games again (like they have the past 3 seasons - on paper), but this year MLB has decided to actually play the games on the field, and only the real wins and losses are being counted, so Boston will not have a team in the playoffs. I know – I also think it’s highly unfair, since we are obviously one of the top teams in the majors, but Mr. Selig has made his decision, and it doesn’t sound like we can change his mind. 

The contest is free and easy to enter.
Here are the rules:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

2012 RSN watch party recap

In 2011, Red Sox Nation - Alberta, through the efforts of our governor hosted 6 RSN watch parties.   These were very successful, as our Red Sox went 6-0 in those games.   This year, we only had two parties, losing the first game to the Yankees, after blowing a 9 run lead, and sitting though 2 lengthy rain delays while losing to the Blue Jays.   But in spite of that, I will say that this year's parties were more successful.  Why?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Random updates

Haven't posted anything in a while.  There's a simple reason for that.... Not a lot has happened lately of interest specifically to Canadian Red Sox fans.  I could write generic articles about the Red Sox - what they did and didn't do at the trade deadline, how Bobby Valentine could be lynched,  how entertaining Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo are when games are out of reach, MLB power rankings.... no shortage of ideas on topics.   But there are a million (and one) Red Sox blogs that already cover these things, and I don't want to simply add to the noise.  I want to as much as possible focus on items of particular interest to Canadians, as well as participate in Baseball Blogger's Alliance wide topics.

I'm also not a fan of two line posts.  I save those for twitter.  However, since there is a shortage of news to report on, below are a couple of tidbits that might be of interest:

Calgary native and former Red Sox first round draft pick, Chris Reitsma, has agreed to a position with the Pro Baseball Force (PBF) Redbirds coaching staff as the organizational pitching coach.  PBF is one of the top baseball academies in the Province, and I'm sure they are excited about this addition.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Hall of Nearly Great

We are all familiar with The Hall of Fame. And the endless debates about which borderline candidates should or should not be in.  Well, now a collection of some great baseball writers have created a book to celebrate those who are not in Cooperstown, but whose careers should not be lost to history.   The players we cheered for as youngsters, but didn't quite make the cut.  For Red Sox fans, there are stories on Dwight Evans, Luis TiantEllis Burks as well as other players who played home games at Fenway including some  best remembered for their times with other teams such as Frank Viola.  Writers include SI's Joe Posnanski (BBA's 2011 writer of the year), the Globe's Chad Finn, Baseball Prospectus' Hall of Fame expert Jay Jaffe and many more talented and passionate baseball writers.  They have teamed up to put together an ebook of stories about some of our favorite players.  Best of all, it's only $12.  For the price of a couple of lattes, you can enjoy endless hours of reading 300 pages of stories about your favourite players.  Click here to read more details and/or download a copy instantly.

Here is the complete list of players and writers:
Luis Tiant-Josh Wilker
Dwight Evans-David Raposa
Ellis Burks-Chad Finn
Reggie Smith-Jon Weisman
Frank Viola-The Common Man
John Olerud-Ted Berg
David Cone - Jay Jaffe
Bret Saberhagen-Marc Normandin
Ray Lankford - Marc Normandin
Dale Murphy-Joe Posnanski
Bobby Bonds-Wendy Thurm
Lonnie Smith-Jon Bois
Norm Cash-Matthew Kory
Keith Hernandez-David Roth
Brian Downing-Sam Miller
Eric Davis-Craig Fehrman
Andy Messersmith-Jeff Passan
Dennis Martinez-Jonah Keri
Fernando Valenzuela-Eric Nusbaum
Urban Shocker-Owen Good
Don Mattingly-Steven Goldman
Kenny Lofton-Cee Angi
Will Clark-Grant Brisbee
Bernie Williams-Ben Lindbergh
Graig Nettles-Cliff Corcoran
Robin Ventura-Jon Sciambi
Darrell Porter-Will Leitch
Moises Alou-R.J. Anderson
Eddie Cicotte-Rob Neyer
Buddy Bell-Jason Parks
Albert Belle-Jonathan Bernhardt
Lenny Dykstra-Emma Span
Ron Cey-King Kaufman
Bobby Grich-David Brown
Tony Phillips-Jason Wojciechowski
Dick Allen-Carson Cistulli
Fred McGriff-Tommy Bennett
Larry Hisle-Bradford Doolittle
Brad Radke-Bill Parker
Alan Trammell-Craig Calcaterra
Chuck Knoblauch-Cecilia Tan
Bob Caruthers-Old Hoss Radbourn
Rusty Greer-Craig Brown

I hope you enjoying reading this.

If (hopefully, when!) a Volume 2 is created, I am going to volunteer to write about Bill Buckner.  I have met him in person (I'm the good looking guy in the picture on the left.  He's wearing the Cowboy hat)  and he has some great stories garnered from playing the game in 4 different decades.  Stay tuned....

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Baseball Is Awesome: Youkilis 1st Home Run

As all my readers already know, Kevin Youkilis was recently traded to the White Sox.  I'm not going to discuss the value of the trade, or recap Youks' career and highlights.  That's already been done on plenty of other sites.  Check out my list of Red Sox blogs if you want further reading.  What I want to highlight today is one of my personal most memorable Youkilis moments, and its Canadian connection, in the latest instalment of the Baseball Is Awesome series.

I'll start with the backstory:  Dubbed "The Greek God of Walks" in the bestseller Moneyball, he was much sought after by Billy Beane's A's but the Red Sox beat them to the punch and drafted him in 2001.  He didn't look much like an athlete, but somehow always found a way to get on base.  He rose quickly through the Sox minor league ranks, but in 2004 it didn't look like he'd have much of a chance to crack the Red Sox lineup, as Boston had the league's reigning batting champ, Bill Mueller, playing third base.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sox draft a Canadian

I've previously lamented about the lack of Canadians on the Red Sox.  And last year, a player from a local high school was drafted, but unfortunately did not sign.   But there's hope that another Canadian will play for the hometeam at Fenway Park, as in the 24th round, the Red Sox selected Keaton Briscoe from Vancouver, BC.

Briscoe is a 21 year old left handed hitting 2nd baseman, who just finished up his junior year at the University of British Columbia.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Will Red Sox draft any Canadians?

The draft starts tonight... in a few minutes, actually.   And the Red Sox get  picks in the 1st and supplemental rounds today.  Numbers 24, 31 and 37 overall.  I won't be holding my breath tonight to see if the Red Sox select a Canadian.  We have produced some pretty good ballplayers... the Sox themselves even took one in the 1st round one year, but none of the top Canadians are expected to go in the first couple of rounds this year.   But I will be anxiously watching tomorrow and Wednesday to see if we do draft (and sign!) a Canadian, eh?
Last year, a player who went to high school right here in Alberta was selected by Boston in the 34th round, but elected to go to Eastern Michigan instead of signing.  But there a lot of good Canadian baseball players, including several from our province who are expected to be drafted in the next couple of days.  Hoping the Red Sox select one of them.  Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Don't look now..

But things are looking up!  Stop reading if you're the type of 'fan' who revels in criticizing the team.  You know the type I'm talking about.  They can be heard calling in to WEEI every day asking for the firing of the manager or the trading of our best players because they've had a couple of bad games in a row.  They're the same guys who said Pedroia was too small to be an everyday player, and were 'proven' right, when he hit .191 in his first cup of coffee in September of 2006 and followed that up by hitting $1.82 in April of 2007.  (Of course he then went on to win Rookie of the Year and MVP the following season.)

Not resigning Papelbon was a mistake, they said.  How can you leave closing of games to Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon?  And when Bailey went to the DL before the season started and Melancon was sent to Pawtucket with an ERA near 50(!) it looked like the naysayers knew what they were talking about.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

RSN Watch party recap

It started off well enough.  But in the 2nd inning some idiot decided to tweet this from the bar:

"a short afternoon for Freddy Garcia". Doesn't get out of 2nd inning and we are on way to 7th consecutive RSN watch party victory. (*)

Well, apparently that angered the The Baseball Gods and we know how the game turned out.  No need to rehash it here.   But that doesn't mean that this group of 17 or so local Red Sox fans didn't have fun.

(*) We won all 6 last year.  Some blowouts, some come from behind, but they were all great games.  Here's a recap I wrote previously on them.

Below is a pictorial recap of the afternoon:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Baseball is AWESOME! - Gives you perspective

I haven't written an article in the ongoing Baseball is AWESOME series in a while.  But today as I watch the tribute to Tanner Craswell and Mitch MacLean during the Blue Jays home opener against the Red Sox, I am once again reminded why Baseball is indeed awesome.  For the past few days I have been discussing the problems with the Red Sox.  Holes in the lineup, not enough starting pitching, shaky bullpen, Bobby the 5th is an idiot... blah, blah, blah. And after last night's loss it only got worse.

But listening to the tragedy (which I wrote about previously on my sister blog) that befell these young players and their families, helps put everything in perspective.  We watch these games to entertain us. It's really not life and death.  What happened to these boys and their friend Tabitha Steeple, as well as Shanya Conway who survived the ordeal but has to live with what she witnessed the rest of her life, is.

It sometimes takes a meaningless baseball game to remind oneself what truly is and isn't important.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

How to improve on perfection?

A year ago,  I thought at this time I might be writing a post with this title about the 162-0 Red Sox who swept their way to become 2011 World Series champions.  But that didn't quite happen as planned.  However, in the baseball world I did see something that I believed was about as close to perfect as possible.  That was Out of The Park Development's OOTP12 baseball game.  It was a very realistic simulation that included all the details of running a major league franchise.  "Best game ever", I proclaimed, and many others echoed that sentiment.  Well, I recently got my hands on this year's version of the game, OOTP 13, and incredibly IT'S EVEN BETTER!

Let me start by recapping what this game does, for those of you not familiar with sports simulation games.  This is not a flashy graphics arcade action console type game, where those with the quickest reflexes can win.  It is a game of wit and strategy.  You play not in the role of a batter facing a 90 MPH slider, but rather as a GM who gets to draft players, sign free agents and make trades.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Mayans were right!

Could it get any worse?  Jon Lester doesn't give up a run through 6 2/3 innings. Ryan Sweeney gets a 2 out game tying triple in the 9th against last year's majors saves leader, and we still lose?
Yes, it can!
The two best pitchers we have that aren't on the DL or in the starting rotation combined to give up 3 hits, hit one batter and allow the winning run to score while only recording a single out in the bottom of the 9th.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Opening Day MLB Power Rankings and Predictions

It's Opening Day Eve! (You Seattle fans be quiet.  Oakland fans don't exist, so I'm not worried about hearing from them). Time for my first real power rankings of the year.

Last year when I started doing these I said I hated putting them in writing because they always look poor in retrospect.  But the flip side is that you can also look like a genius.  Either way it's fun to look back at them afterwards and see where your analysis went wrong and learn from that.

#1 - Texas - do you realize they were 1 strike away from winning the World Series while having a 2 run lead last year?  Twice!  Not even the cursed Red Sox ....... oh, never mind.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2012 Red Sox optimism

I am very excited about the upcoming season for the Red Sox.  Even more so than last year, and I think I may be in the minority.  (Although, not alone, as you can see from the responses of the other bloggers to share their opinions on the upcoming season at the Cardinal70 at bat blog.)

The main things fans seemed to be concerned about in the offseason were the change in management with the associated lack of making a big splash in the free agent market which has led to perceived shortcomings at starting pitching,  shortstop, corner outfielders and closer positions.  Let me address each of these and demonstrate why I don't believe any of these are legitimate concerns.

Fans clamored their disappointment that we ran "THE GREATEST GM IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD" and the "MOST BELOVED MANAGER EVAH" out of town.  No argument from me here.  However, let's not overestimate the impact that these positions have on the results on the field.  Theo Epstein was the genius wonderboy who made all the right moves to bring a championship to Boston after 86 long years.  But if Dave Roberts doesn't beat the throw to second, Theo becomes the man who traded Nomar for
some spare parts and would probably need to wear a bullet proof vest the rest of his life, lest he run into some angry members of Red Sox Nation.  He did made some great acquisitions - picking up Bill Mueller, David Ortiz and Bronson Arroyo from the scrap heap, signing Foulke and Schilling, but he also spent a lot of money and/or traded some good prospects for the likes of Brad Penny, John Smoltz, Eric Gagne, Wily Mo Pena, and many others who weren't large contributors.  And let's not forget Julio Lugo, Edgar Renteria or the panic re-acquisition of Doug Mirabelli.  I'm giving him a pass on Lackey and Crawford for at least few more years.   Anyhow, Dan Duquette brought us Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek, and he doesn't get much credit because the team didn't win under his watch.  In summary, I think Theo was (is?) a good GM, but Ben Cherington learned under his watch, and the impact of the GM change is negligible.

Friday, March 9, 2012

2012 MLB Power Rankings - preseason

This is my first MLB power rankings of the year.  Let me cut right through the chase and start with my #1...

#1. Houston Astros - WHAT?  Am I crazy.  Do I know anything about baseball?  Read on to see the rest of the list and my simple explanation of why they are worthy of the top spot

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

RSN Alberta Watch Parties

Last year, the governor of Red Sox Nation Alberta hosted a total of 6 Red Sox watch parties right here in Calgary.   Below is a recap of these 6 games, to show you what you were missing if you didn't make it out to these.   This year's schedule has been posted, so please come on out and cheer our Red Sox on.

The first watch party was on April 16th against the Blue Jays, and this was the FIRST EVER INTERNATIONAL RED SOX NATION event!  That game came when we were still in the middle of a disastrous start, our record being 2-10 at the time.   In the first inning we scored 2 runs before the Blue Jays recorded an out, and that was all we would need as Josh Beckett pitched 7 strong innings, only giving up 3 hits, and we won 4-1.   This was the game that started our 81-42 run that lasted until the end of August.  (I've conveniently tried to forget what happened after Labour Day).

The next watch party was on May 14th in New York, against the always hated Yankees.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

5 Random Red Sox Questions

Ever year, C70 at the Bat which is an excellent baseball blog, mainly about the World Series champion St.Louis Cardinals, gets a feel for other teams around baseball by asking bloggers of those teams a few questions about their squad. This year, I was asked and answered the following questions about our Red Sox. Take a look at C70 at the Bat to see how other Baseball Bloggers Alliance members answered.

1) What was your opinion of the team’s offseason?
I may be the only Red Sox fan to say I was pleasantly surprised. They did not panic and overcommit money to players that they don't or won't need.  This year's team isn't vastly different from last year and they didn't mortgage the future with deals that would handcuff them in future years. After "THE COLLAPSE" it's easy to forget that for 4½ months this was by far the best team in all of baseball.
The top 3 pitchers in the rotation are back, and Buchholz didn't pitch after the middle of June, so the top of the rotation can potentially improve. There's been a lot of talk about not improving the #4 and 5 slots. Despite many rumours, Boston did not sign Oswalt, Kuroda or Edwin Jackson or make a bid on Yu Darvish, or trade for John Danks. But last year Lackey pitched all season with an ERA well above 6. DiceK while healthy contributed an ERA over 5. Wakefield had the 4th most starts on the team, and his ERA was North of 5 as well. Andrew Miller started 12 games and had an even higher ERA. And please don't get me started on Kyle Weiland who would have made any of the above look like Cy Young in comparison. That's a total of 75 games started with a combined ERA of approximately 5.8. I believe that Bard, Aceves and any others that need to fill in due to the inevitable injuries such as Cook, Padilla, Duckworth, Silva, Ohlendorf etc, can'd do any worse. I really see the starting rotation as being a large improvement over last year. Replacing Papelbon with Bailey and Melancon was a very smart move. On the field it may be a slight downgrade, but it never makes sense to overpay for relievers - particularly closers.
On the other side of the ball, the biggest change has been in right field and shortstop. Boston's rightfielders offensively were the worst in baseball. They lost JD Drew and Reddick who were a major part of the position that hit a combined .233. Rumors of signing Carlos Beltran (thankfully) didn't materialize. Instead we now have some combination of Ryan Sweeney, Cody Ross and Darnell McDonald. DMac is an excellent platoon player, who hit .260 against lefties while being on pace to knock 25 balls out of park, if he faced southpaws everyday. Hopefully he'll have an opportunity to be used more, at least against wronghanders. Again, I can't envision any scenario where this position will be worse than last year. At shortstop, we lost Jed Lowrie, who had some early season heroics and was at least a good platoon hitter (a .214 career average against righties isn't going to win you a lot of starting jobs at any position). But he had some defensive "challenges" at short. Losing Marco Scutaro was slightly more troublesome. I hope Mike Aviles can handle the position. I really don't want to see Nick Punto starting any more than necessary. However, this team scored the most runs in the majors last year, out pacing the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals by over 100 runs. If Jose Iglesias turns out to be the only player than can field a ground ball at the position, he can go 0-500 on the season, and this team can still win.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Baseball is AWESOME! - Maligned Canadian pitcher closes out Series win

I haven't written a BASEBALL IS AWESOME post in a few weeks, and today's post was a bit of a stretch as I tried to keep some Canadian content in it. It's more of a "Baseball isn't as awful as it could be" type of post.  Read on....

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Radical? baseball changes

I was listening to the weekly (when does it switch to daily??? I'm Jonesing here!) ESPN baseball today podcast hosted by Eric Karabell (@karabellespn) in which some proposed radical changes were discussed. This week's episode had Keith Law (@keithlaw) on it (he takes turns with Mark Simon (@msimonespn) as co-hosts).  I love listening to all of these guys, although I really miss the wit and sarcasm of Peter Pascarelli who got me hooked on the show in the first place.   But I digress.  My point is just that if you're a baseball fan - and if you're not, I'm not sure how you landed on this page in the first place(!) - you should really listen to this show. It's infinitely better than any of the local sports radio talk shows that you may listen to, and offers a very insightful view into the world of MLB baseball.   Anyhow, one of the proposed radical ideas that had been suggested and was very quickly and unceremoniously dismissed by Mr. Simon, was the idea of having baseball adopt what is used in English Football (i.e., soccer!) where the worst teams in Division I get bumped down to Division II, and the best teams in lower divisions get to move up.  As stated I completely agree it's a bad idea, and there are a million reasons why it won't work.  Can you imagine if Pawtucket wins the International League title and gets to move up to the MLB?  How could they survive financially in their 10,000 seat stadium?   And how well would they fare against established franchises?  And how well would the Astros draw if they were playing against Omaha or Nashville or Albuquerque?  (As a benefit, I suppose they might win some games but nodody would be watching).

Monday, January 2, 2012

Best and Worst of 2011

As we start a new year, hopefully one with better results for our Red Sox, time to reflect on the first year of this blog, and look at the best and worst predictions that I made.  After reading through these, I welcome you to share your opinions in the comments section.

I'll start with a few nominees for worst predictions, in chronological posting order:

Colorado beating Oakland in the World Series.  I think I at least get a break on this one, as it was made in January before the end of all the off-season moves and I was trying to be original.  Every other prognosticator  had picked Philadelphia and the Red Sox, and neither team played in the Fall Classic, so in that sense my prediction was no worse than everybody else's.  I made some other poor choices on this initial power ranking too, including having Cleveland as the worst team in the majors.