Just a little roundup before the game starts this afternoon.
YFSF has a post up whose title made my soul collapse in on itself, only to burst forth again and explode with audible violence somewhere in my thorax. The content of the post is just as infuriating. I guess far be it from me to step to the analytical geniuses at Baseball Prospectus, but I mean...hullo?!? This is the comment I left, and I stick by it:
uhhhh yeah, young slugger who essentially carried the team to a pennant on his back, who would immediately be snapped up by your bitter arch-rival were he to become a FA. said slugger is a lefty pull hitter, something that would probably boost your rival team's offense to a ridiculous extent.
totally not worth throwing some money at that guy. not at all.
did the BP guys make any mention of the fact that the sox signed ortiz for far less than he could have commanded on the open market, and that both sides had struck an equitable deal to keep him on the team's side while not paying him an a-rod like salary? regardless of whatever number they think is the right one for ortiz in a vacuum, the fact of the matter is it was an incredibly smart and timely negotiation for the red sox, from a business perspective if nothing else.
i guess that's what bothers me about the analysis (or at least your summary of the analysis)--it ignores the business factors at work and doesn't seem to take the context into account, but its conclusion is a comment on a business decision (the signing of a contract and whether or not it's fiscally sound).
Evan at FB of the AL has a great premise I think we should all get behind:
Right now I just want to keep playing with what we have. I don’t want to see any drastic changes until each player has at least 100 at-bats under their belts. The first two months are spent seeing what you have. The next two is spent getting what you don’t have, and the final two is the push for the playoffs. This is a long season, and there are going to be more injuries and more pitfalls. We may be 6-2 right now, and I have every confidence in the word we’ll be playing October ball, but these Yankees aren’t going to go away, and we have losing streaks looming.
I think we should all take that 100 at-bats pledge right now. I think there should be forms notarized and everything.
Redsox.com reports that Manny has been spending "post-batting practice moments...taking more batting practice in the tunnel behind the Boston dugout.
"I think he's been looking at his hands, where they are, pre-pitch," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He did the same thing last year. Sometimes coming out of the gate, you just lose your comfort zone for whatever reason. He'll get it."
For whatever reason, Ramirez has been a slow starter the last couple of years, though his career April numbers heading into this season (.325 average, 68 homers and 246 RBIs) weren't too shabby.
I like that image, of Manny studying his own hands.
The official site quotes Schilling thusly:
"Warming up for the second inning, I threw my split-finger and everything clicked," Schilling said. "The first two starts, I haven't felt like I've been consistently bearing the pitch well and I didn't feel like I've been throwing it at a good angle. And I threw it and it was exactly what I wanted it to be from a feel standpoint. And mentally, I was like, 'There it is.' From that point on, when I needed a strikeout, I felt very comfortable about command, fastball-wise, and about the fact I could bury my split in the ground."
What they don't include is that, at least if they're quoting him from the press conference, he actually said "I was like, 'Holy Crap, there it is'." I feel the "Holy Crap" part is important.
Mr. BlackandWhite has a great little post up at his place, entitled "Papel-balls", in which he rightly captures the moment Papelbon "get[s] the swinging strike and circl[es] the mound... Letting the fury reign for a brief moment..."
That's a great sentence. "Letting the fury reign for a brief moment." And a very apt description for the moment in question.
Sam can't get Flickr to work, but she's told me about the 400 PICTURES she took at the Michigan / Ohio State baseball game last night (culled in-camera down to 253, she said, so there'll prob. be at least 150 shots up when she gets Flickr up and running, I would wager), and if this preview in her post is any indication, they'll be worth a good gander.
My favorite Yankees fan Alex Belth has some lovely observations up about Kyle Farnsworth, with whom I am not familiar (except through Sam's affection for him). This is the kind of detail I really value (and aspire to, even if I don't necessarily come through with it) in sports blogging:
I've complained about Farnsworth's thought-process in the past and last night was an ideal example of why the guy drives me nuts. Farnsworth's two best pitches are a plus fastball and a sharp slider. But you don't get the sense that he knows how to mix his pitches properly--he falls in love with dominating a hitter and makes things tougher on himself in the process.
With two men out and nobody on, Farnsworth was pitching to Torii Hunter, a right-handed hitter. He threw a slider for strike one and then got Hunter to wave at a nasty slider for strike two. Now, I'm thinking, okay, time to come up and in with the heat. Posada signaled for a fastball and you could see him motioning for it to be high and tight. Hunter is a free swinger, after all. Farnsworth shook him off.
C'mmon, Meat, I'm thinking at home. We're going to go through this Nuke Laloosh routine all year, aren't we? (Funny to consider Jorge Posada as the sage Crash Davis, huh.) But no, Farnsworth wanted to get him out on another slider. It would be difficult to throw one better than the pitch Hunter had just swung through. Sure enough, the next pitch was a slider, it wasn't as nasty as the previous one, and Hunter slapped the pitch into right for a double.
Justin Morneau, a lefty, was next. He had a great swing at a Farnsworth fastball that was low and right over the plate. The pitch was fouled straight back indicating that Farnsworth had gotten away with one--Morneau was right on it. He got strike two on another fastball, but this one was up and away, and he simply over-powered Morneau with it. So now, I'm thinking, maybe time for the slider, or another high heater. Instead Farnsworth threw another low fastball--seemingly identical to the pitch Morneau just missed--which was promptly slapped into left field for an RBI single.
Now, maybe Farnsworth's location was just off. Again, I'll admit that I'm ready to be critical of the guy so I'm not exactly even-handed when discussing him. He's clearly got good stuff. I just don't know that he's got much sense. And after a long night of lousy at-bats, it was the icing on the gravy so to speak. Farnsworth didn't lose the game for the Yankees, he just made it uglier.
Great stuff. Although I'm wondering how Alex learned to tell a slider from a fastball from anything else in TV footage. I certainly can't do it.
Meanwhile, the commenters at Alex's site warmed my little heart today. Quoth one:
the Red Sox, at 7-3, have 5 wins in games where their starter gave up only 1 run. Schilling and Beckett have each done it twice and Wakefield did it once. We need a few more stellar games like that.
Lemme guess, the offense sucks against a back-end starter one night, then goes and demolishes their ace the next (see Oakland, Anaheim).
And I really hate seeing the Sox and the unfortunately healthy Schilling win close games.
Red, as always, makes me feel like just deleting my site and spending my blogging time genuflecting towards him. The high point of the excerpt and post as a whole, IMHO, is in bold.
Curt Schilling has been reborn as the heart, soul and fury of the team.
After two games in which our starters got slapped around like a fat kid in a monkey suit, the Schill Dog reasserted himself as the Prince of Route 109, striking out seven -- including a critical punchout of Ichiro with the tying run on third in the sixth. His ERA is a paltry 1.64, and in last night's incredibly non-ankle-friendly conditions, he got more bad-ass as the evening progressed. When can we finally say it's not a fluke? When can we finally admit the dude's back in the saddle, calling the shots, lovin' the ladies, and bringing the pain?
Daryl at Singapore Sox Fan wonders about Le Papelbon's closer music. Apparently he currently comes out to a song by Drowning Pool, which, barf. But then again, a lot of the great closer / at-bat songs are taken. So I open the floor on this one, as Daryl did on his blog. What would be the perfect music for young Jonathan?