Results tagged ‘ Boston Red Sox ’

A Harmonious Chorus of Boos and Cheers

It was a pretty significant day in the baseball world today. Felix Doubront made his first career start for the Red Sox. Stephen Strasburg made his third major league start (overkill, I know). Mike Stanton, who is living in Strasburg’s shadow (in a way) hit a grand slam. Oh, and Manny Ramirez stepped up to the plate at Fenway Park. 

That used to sound so normal: Manny Ramirez stepping up to the plate at Fenway Park. I probably took it for granted at the time. For eight years, the sun rose in the east, the light turned on when I flipped a switch, and Manny Ramirez would step up to the plate in a Red Sox uniform. The sun rose once a day; Manny Ramirez would come to the plate three to four times a night! It really was part of my everyday life. 
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Manny’s eccentricities gave the Red Sox a charismatic edge over other teams. When people would criticize him, I, and so may others, would justify his actions by saying, “Oh, that’s just Manny being Manny.” That didn’t really cause much controversy until the end. Some people would say that he didn’t play hard enough. Some said that his head was in the clouds during the games. This may have some validity to it, a lot in fact. But I don’t think that anyone can deny that Manny is a fantastic baseball player. It seemed like it just came naturally to him. Perhaps that is why he seemed preoccupied sometimes. He was so good that he didn’t even need to concentrate. I suppose that as fans, we are used to seeing the players focused on every pitch, every play, every little detail of the game, that Manny’s aloofness (for lack of a better word) may come off as arrogant. I know that not everyone likes Kevin Youkilis, but he is a great example of one of those guys who is so focused on the game, and plays very intensely all the time. I certainly appreciate that as a fan, because it is simple enough for me to notice that his success is a result of his intense work ethic. Manny, on the other hand, is someone whom you just have to accept as one of those naturally talented players. 
As I said before, Manny’s character didn’t cause much controversy until the end of his tenure in a Red Sox uniform. (Yes, there was that day in 2005 where I flipped out because I thought he had been traded to the Indians). I think that his career in a Red Sox uniform generally had positive connotations. Manny was the face of the Red Sox for a good part of this decade. Uncle Ben puts it best in Spiderman when he says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” When I think about Alex Rodriguez, whose significance to the baseball world is of the same level as Ramirez’s, I really do not see him in a positive light. I can understand that he plays the game intensely, but that gives him no reason to knock balls out of people’s gloves, say “MINE” to confuse infielders, or to take steroids for that matter. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have Joe Mauer, who, to me, represents everything a baseball player should be. 
Ramirez did well for a while with the kind of media attention he received. However, the end in Boston was probably among the worst breakups in Red Sox history. I don’t really know when or why Manny snapped. I don’t know why he stopped liking Boston, or why he stopped liking the fans. Some people are good about it, and they merely ask the organization to be traded. Manny just stopped playing during that last week. The air in Fenway became tenser, and his poor attitude was a cancer in the clubhouse. So he was traded. It really shocked me at the time. I thought that he would never leave, and that he would finish his career in a Red Sox uniform. The sun still rose (despite my doubts), the light still turned on when I flipped the switch, but Manny didn’t step to the plate at Fenway Park in a Red Sox uniform the next day. 
We all have fond memories of watching Manny Ramirez: the walk off home runs, the snack breaks in the Monster, etc. My first game ever at Fenway Park, he waved to me. My friend and I had great seats to begin with, but we snuck down around the seventh inning to the second row because some people had left. Ortiz and Ramirez walked out together, and my friend and I started waving, and calling their names, and Manny enthusiastically waved and smiled. It made my night. 
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That same series against the Blue Jays (this was July of 2007), fortune was in our favor and we scored Monster seats. I remember being so excited that I could hardly contain myself, and the security guard at the monster asked if I was alright. We were in the third row up on the monster. When Manny would jog out to center field each inning, I jumped and would wave to him. And each inning, he would wave with his glove at me. I’ll never forget it. 
There was this one comment that he made last year that really saddened me. He said something along the lines of, “I’d rather play here where I’m happy than spend eight years when I’m miserable.” Manny can say what he wants, but I know that he enjoyed some of his time in Boston. I know that he appreciated the fans. In seventh grade, when we were assigned in art class to make a mold of a head of someone we admired, I chose Manny Ramirez. 
Even though the end was not pretty, when he walked up to the plate last night, I cheered for him. I know that he may have used performance enhancing drugs, and I know that he was suspended last season for them. This is the steroids era. I can’t help the fact that I grew up during this era, and that my affection for some players may be illegitimate. As a fan, I had a very deep affection for Manny Ramirez, and it would be very hard for anything to change that. 
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I was very happy to see that Felix Doubront was called up to the show. He had been performing at a very high level this year. I’m a bit unsure of exactly how he fits into the Red Sox’s plans, but I’m sure that we will see as time goes on. He had a very good spring training, and started the year in Portland where he posted a fabulous record and ERA, so he earned a promotion to Pawtucket. 
I was very pleased to see that his transition was seamless. I always like to allow for a bit of an adjustment period when a guy gets promoted to any level, so I was pleasantly surprised to see Felix adjust so well. He had been dominating in Pawtucket, so when Dice-K was (somewhat) rashly put on the DL with a forearm strain, he was the most logical man to pick (even though he didn’t have much experience with International League hitting). That being said, I thought he did pretty well his first start. His first two innings were absolutely solid, and his fastball was working great for him. Since King Felix already exists, I think we need to assign a nickname to the Red Sox’s Felix. I’m feeling Prince or
Emperor. What do you guys think? 
While I am certainly happy with Doubront’s success, I hope you guys haven’t forgotten about Michael Bowden yet! Yes, he has struggled at times this year, and hasn’t been completely consistent, but his last few starts have been great–especially his most recent! No runs through 7.2 innings! 
I really wish that Dustin Richardson would get more of a chance to pitch. Terry Francona uses Daniel Bard way too often. Believe me, I love his 100 mph fastball and his slider, but the guy needs some rest! Richardson is perfectly capable! I’m so glad that the Red Sox kept him on the roster and designated Boof Bonser (let’s hope that experiment is over) for assignment. I know Richardson will make a positive impact with the club. Yes, I know that he gave up a home run tonight. He left the pitch up, and it happens to everyone. Stephen Strasburg has given up two home runs! Richardson’s presence in the bullpen is valuable because he is a lefty, and I feel like he could be used in long relief too. If the Red Sox had as much faith in him as I do, he would definitely have more than three, short appearances this year. 
Speaking of Stephen Strasburg, the hype that he is receiving is a little bit ridiculous. Why is MLB Network insisting on broadcasting every single one of his starts? They had a countdown to his third start yesterday. His THIRD start! I can just imagine it now: “And tonight, we bring you Stephen Strasburg’s 17th Major League start!” If I were an outsider, I would think that Strasburg could walk on water, or maybe that his tears cure cancer–the messiah! That’s how much hype he is getting. People need to settle down and just let the man pitch. I have no doubt that his career will be illustrious, but I do not need everyone of his starts to appear on national television. Ozzie Guillen something along the lines of “I think he is the best pitcher in the National League.” OK he’s good. But has Guillen not seen Ubaldo Jimenez? If people are looking for an excuse to give the Washington Nationals attention, they didn’t need Strasburg. Ryan Zimmerman has been performing at a MVP worthy level for years. 
Staying in the National League East, Mike Stanton hit his first career grand slam today, and it was such a shot! This guy has some serious power, and I am so excited to watch him play. Strasburg pitches once every five days, we see this guy at the plate four times a night! I really don’t want to say that he is living in Strasburg’s shadow, but in a way he kind of is. Both of their debuts just happened to coincide I suppose. 
One more thing about the Marlins. In their new ballpark, they are planning on putting fish tanks behind home plate (with bullet proof glass). Apparently, PETA wrote Marlins owner Jeffery Loria a letter asking him to reconsider because they thought that it would be a stressful environment. Really? I’m going to withhold further comments on PETA, but I think that this is just a bit absurd. They’re asking him to put them back in the ocean where they belong. Are they writing to Sea World? Now THAT is a pretty stressful environment. They obviously don’t watch their baseball because nobody goes to Marlins games; therefore, I don’t really think the fishes would be too stressed out (not that anyone cares). Only reason I don’t go to more Marlins games is because it’s pretty much in the middle of no where, and just so inconvenient to go to (and the weather is terrible). 
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I actually went the other night with some friends to the game against the Rangers. CJ Wilson and Josh Johnson pitched, and it was a pretty great pitching matchup. Both of them did fairly well. It was Stanton’s home debut too, so that was special to see. He received a real nice standing ovation from the few fans in the stands. There was even a group of guys who had spelled out S-T-A-N-T-O-N on their chests. 
Tomorrow, I am basically leaving for the summer. Well, about a month and a little over a week. First, I go to California to a summer program that I have been going to every year since the summer before 8th grade. I’ve literally grown up over there. I also happen to have tickets to two Red Sox vs Giants games in San Francisco. 
Then, I’m flying to Boston. Dan Hoard and Steve Hyder have agreed to let me shadow them for a day (they are the broadcasters for the Pawtucket Red Sox), and I have asked a few beat writers from the Providence Journal if they would let me do the same thing. Then, I’m going up to Portland to shadow people in the media relations department for the Portland Sea Dogs. 
Unfortunately, I will not be able to blog for about three weeks. I will blog about the Red Sox games in California as soon as possible. For those of you wondering, yes, I am bringing my Dustin Pedroia salsa because I am blindly optimistic. I’m also hoping that I’ll get a chance to speak with Dustin Richardson. I’ll have full computer access when I’m in New England, so I’ll definitely keep you updated with my adventures over there. Until next time, you can follow me on Twitter, because I’ll still be updating! 

This is Beyond Dedication


The last time the Red Sox were in Miami was
the summer of 2006. The closest they have been since then is when they played
the Orioles, whose facility was in Fort Lauderdale, in Spring Training last
year. Then they decided to make my life difficult by moving to Sarasota. Otherwise, the closest the Red Sox have been is Fort Myers, which is about
two-and-a-half hours from where I am. And those games don’t even count. So if I
want to see a Red Sox game in Florida that actually counts, I have to drive to
Tampa unless the gods of Interleague play decide to work in my favor.

Those of you familiar with the Florida terrain
know that any drive across or up the state is absolutely boring. There are no
hills or mountains, no really big cities that you can see from the highway:
nothing. You might see a group of cattle every now and then. And no, driving
through the Everglades is not cool. You will not see a panther, nor will you
see an alligator. You will only see trees. 

A four hour drive through this kind of terrain
doesn’t sound fun, but the ends clearly justify the means. A normal person
would have spent the night in Tampa, and maybe driven back the next day. It’s not that I’m not normal, it’s just that I didn’t have that option. You see, this series came at probably the most
inconvenient time for me: finals week. I decided that my best option was to go
to the last game of the series, on Wednesday night, because I only had my
French final the next day. 

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So after my Pre-Calculus final, my dad and I
hopped in the car and we were off. Google maps says that the drive is about
four-and-a-half hours. Somehow, we made it in about three-and-a-half. We
arrived before the gates opened, so we waited in line for a bit. When they were
checking my bag, they almost didn’t let me bring my Dustin Pedroia salsa
inside, but it ended being alright. 

Those who work at Tropicana Field are very
clever. They open the inside of the stadium itself at 5:10 pm, but they don’t
let you in to the seating sections until 5:40. Basically, they want you to buy
stuff. Honestly, I do not feel like I’m in a baseball stadium when I am at the
Trop; I feel like I’m at some stupid carnival. It’s air-conditioned, and
it just doesn’t feel like a real baseball stadium. My father and I didn’t
weight our options quite well enough for food. We basically stopped at the
first place we saw, and we got these sausages with peppers and onions on top.
They were fairly decent, but nothing like the sausages at City of Palms
Park. 

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We were finally let in to the seating bowl, I
went straight to the dugout. I’m pretty sure that the security guard decided I
was mildly insane as soon as I put my Dustin Pedroia salsa (which expired in
February) on the dugout. Well, Dustin Pedroia did not sign my Dustin Pedroia
salsa. But I was able to get Darnell McDonald’s signature (he was the only guy
that signed). His signature looks a little bit different now than it did during
the Spring, but not by much. 

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We had great seats: twelve rows behind the Red
Sox dugout. I found it a bit weird that we were row ‘W’ though, yet we were 12
rows back. The Rays clearly do not know their alphabet. Luckily our row was
filled entirely with Red Sox fans, and they were absolutely great to converse
with. Even the two Rays fans in front of us–season ticket holders since
1999–were very kind. The cowbells weren’t even that obnoxious. I’d be willing
to bet that opposing teams, and especially opposing pitchers, hate playing at the Trop. 

I really just do not like Tropicana Field. I understand the necessity of retractable roofs for stadiums located in areas where it always rains. But a dome? Baseball was not meant to be played indoors. Billy Crystal says, There’s a very peaceful thing: it was created and played in pastures and
meadows. There’s grass, there’s outdoors, there’s everything that people though
was American and feel about America.” The Trop just does not make me feel like I’m at a baseball stadium. I wonder what the players think of it; I’ll have to ask one of them. They even give you a weather update, and I’m just sitting there asking myself, ‘How is this at all relevant?”

I was really hoping that the Red Sox would win
the game because driving back four hours after seeing a loss would not have been fun.
I was hoping that Lackey would continue in the streak of stellar outings from
our starters (at that time). He didn’t pitch a gem like Matsuzaka’s one-hitter, or Lester’s
gem, but he pitched well enough for the Red Sox to win, and that’s what counts.
Lackey’s main problem was that he was inefficient with his pitches. Nevertheless, his balls to strikes ratio was significantly better than Matt Garza’s that night. 

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Adrian Beltre was absolutely on fire this
game. He hit two home runs (the first of which is pictured above), and he was a
double shy of the cycle. He may make errors sometimes, but his bat has been such a valuable part of the lineup. He is among the league leaders in batting average, and has generally been great with runners in scoring position. 

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David Ortiz hit an opposite field home run, which was great to see. He really turned it around in May, but I still think mild skepticism during April was appropriate (maybe not during the first week, but after that). He simply was not seeing pitches well in April, and he was always getting behind in the count. Ortiz has struggled during June though. He was something like 1-for-24 on this road trip. Some people (like Jon Lester and Mark Teixeira) just aren’t April guys, and maybe Ortiz is just one of those guys now. 

Being at that game was such a great birthday present. The Red Sox offense was just so in sync. By the time the game ended, everyone around me was wishing me luck on my French final. I’m pretty sure that the vast majority thought that I was a bit nuts for being in Tampa when I had a final four hours South the next day. 

On our way back, my dad and I picked up some 5-hour energy. My dad drank it to keep him alert on the long drive home, and I saved it for the next morning. Believe me, that stuff works, and it actually doesn’t taste too bad. I don’t blame you if you think I’m a little bit crazy for doing this, but I don’t regret it for a second. When my response to “Why do you look like a zombie today?” was “Oh, I was in Tampa last night”, I got some strange looks. If I can’t bring the Red Sox to myself, I’ll bring myself to the Red Sox.  

I’m kind of upset that my school wouldn’t let me rearrange my finals though. They let other people do that if they were leaving on vacation, or going to their brother’s graduation… but they wouldn’t let me rearrange my finals for this? This is my life. It disappoints me that some people just cannot accept that this is more than just a game for me.  Who are they to decide what has more merit? Going to a baseball game or going to a graduation? It’s completely subjective! Passion is relative.

This is beyond dedication; this is beyond baseball.

Lack of Offense Isn’t Hurting the Red Sox…

Yesterday, I received an email from the Red Sox Insider blog that I’m subscribed to, and it had some interesting statistics: 

The Red Sox are first in the Majors in both runs scored and hits. They are second in the Majors in homers and total bases; and they are third in the majors in slugging percentage and On Base plus slugging. 
However, when they look up, they see three teams in front of them: The Rays, the Yankees, and the Blue Jays. The Red Sox are in fourth place right now, and it doesn’t really make sense. Before the season even started, people were panicking about our supposed “lack of offense.” However, neither the Red Sox nor myself (among others) were too worried about the offense. As far as offense goes, there is not much to improve upon with those statistics. The Red Sox are in the top three in some of the most important categories. 
I must admit, though, these statistics took me by surprise; especially leading the Majors in home runs. I was expecting key hits and a little more small ball to get us through the season, not the long ball. I have also lamented many a time about the Red Sox’s struggles with runners in scoring position. Yet they are first in runs scored! 
So if the offense is so good, then why are the Red Sox in fourth place? It’s because the pitching and defense have not lived up to their expectations, and this is not Theo Epstein’s fault. He went out and acquired the best people he could find. Adrian Beltre is arguably the best third baseman in the league, but he already has an unacceptable amount of errors. Marco Scutaro is also in a similar situation. His eye and ability to draw walks from the leadoff spot has been invaluable and often overlooked, but some of his throws to first base have simply been atrocious. 
Now I don’t want to hear any of this “we should have kept Alex Gonzalez stuff.” Yes, he has been off to a hot start offensively, but his defense has been anything but pretty. Ever since Nomar Garciaparra’s departure, the Red Sox’s least solid position has been the shortstop. And it will continue to be this way until Jose Iglesias is called up. 
Mike Cameron has also made some critical errors in the outfield. Some of you may remember that start that Clay Buchholz had, and the easy fly ball that Cameron missed cost the Red Sox four runs. Honestly, I think that the Cameron signing was unnecessary. The Red Sox could have kept Jacoby Ellsbury in center field, and they could have platooned Jeremy Hermida and Josh Reddick in left field. 
Those of you who follow the Pawtucket Red Sox know that Josh Reddick is struggling with a sub .200 average. He literally had the best Spring Training of all of the Red Sox, and I think not making the team probably took a bit of a mental toll on him, which is totally understandable. I think that he was ready to be with the big league club this year (even if it was just coming off the bench), so when the Red Sox signed Mike Cameron, that probably came as a bit of a slap in the face. On the other hand, Hermida has had some clutch hits for the Red Sox so far this season. Many of the Marlins fans that I have spoken to were so glad to get Hermida off their hands, but I think that having him come off the bench has helped him out. The only problem is that his fielding is sloppy. 
The other problem the Red Sox have had is inconsistent pitching, as I have mentioned before. Josh Beckett, the supposed ace of our staff, was placed on the 15-Day DL yesterday; and our most consistent starter has been Clay Buchholz. A consistent, dominant Josh Beckett is essential to the starting rotation. Luckily, Jon Lester has significantly improved after his first couple of starts in April, but this seems to be a trend for him. John Lackey has been disappointing thus far. The Red Sox signed him to be like Josh Beckett, but at this point in the season, do they really want him to be like Josh Beckett? I just want him to be himself. 
Daisuke Matsuzaka is another story entirely. He had one extremely dominating start in which he struck out ten batters and walked none, but he was not able to carry that over into the following start. For the most part, he has had one bad inning in which he simply falls apart, and the Red Sox cannot have this in the starting rotation. Perhaps Tim Wakefield would be more effective in the starting rotation. Perhaps the only reason that it is Tim Wakefield in the bullpen and Matsuzaka in the rotation is because of the significant contract disparity. 
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A couple of roster moves have occurred over the last day or so. With Josh Beckett moving to the DL, reliever and man of the Vulcan pitch Joe Nelson was called up to fill that roster spot. Scott Schoeneweis, who has not been effective out of the bullpen at all this year, was designated for assignment. To fill his roster spot, SS Angel Sanchez was called up. By the way, I was very impressed with Angel Sanchez during the spring. In the minor leagues, Bryan Peterson was called up to Salem to fill Anthony Rizzo’s spot on the roster. Felix Doubront, who was 4-0 to start the season in Portland, was called up to Pawtucket. 
In spring training, there were about four guys competing for a spot in the bullpen: Scott Atchinson, Scott Schoeneweis, Joe Nelson, and Brian Shouse. I was not impressed with any of them. You all know what is coming: my argument for my projects. 
Tim Wakefield will be moving back to the starting rotation. This makes sense, but another option that the Red Sox have is calling up Michael Bowden for a spot start or two. Remember how I compared him to Justin Masterson? I remember Masterson making some starts in early 2008 and 2009, and he was really effective when the Red Sox needed him, and I have no doubt in my mind that Michael Bowden would do the same. 
The Red Sox could also use a solid, left handed reliever like Dustin Richardson in the bullpen. He has been nearly untouchable in Pawtucket, and I think that he could be exactly what the Red Sox need coming out of the bullpen. 
The last problem that the Red Sox have is an internal one. On Tuesday, Mike Lowell confessed his true feelings about his situation to WEEI. He basically said that he knows that he does not have a role on the team, and that he literally fills a roster spot. I know that this type of “attitude” can be detrimental to a clubhouse, but I think that Lowell is perfectly justified in voicing his opinions. He has had such a good attitude through all of this, and I do not think that it is going to have a real effect on how others play. Whenever he is put into a game, he puts in 110% effort. The problem is, he is rarely put into a game. 
With the re-surging David Ortiz, Mike Lowell’s playing time will diminish even more. Yet as he was speaking to WEEI, the said that he agreed that David Ortiz should get as much playing time as possible
so that the Red Sox can see if he is just going through a funk, or if his career is actually coming to an end. He obviously wants what is best for the team, which is why he mused that the team might be better off without him. 
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Look, I really like Mike Lowell. My dad and I call him the black hole at third base, and he is known as Mr. Double. *Tangent*: My physics teacher told me that he gave his Physics Honors class a question on momentum that had to do with Mike Lowell. The basic point of the question was whether or not the ball went over the green monster, or if it was a double. Without even thinking about the necessary calculations involved, I said that he would hit a double because he is Mr. Double. Unfortunately, I would have only received partial credit. 
Anyway, I think that Mike Lowell is right. I am sure that there are a lot of teams out there that could really use Mike Lowell if he was only given the chance. Consider the following hypothetical situation: having Mike Lowell play third base and having Adrian Beltre DH. I am willing to bet that we would see some pretty incredible plays from Lowell. Terry Francona was platooning Lowell and Ortiz for a little while when Ortiz was struggling depending on the matchup. But like I said, if Ortiz can maintain some consistency, then this will no longer happen. 
The Red Sox obviously want to remedy their situation. But going out and buying another bat or trading precious prospects for it is not the solution, and the statistics show you that.It is not realistic for the Red Sox to trade for a starter because four of our five starters are under big contracts. This is why I say we give Michael Bowden a chance. I know he can do it. 
The fact that the offense is performing so well and yet the Red Sox are still in fourth place further reinforces the concept that pitching and defense are among the most important components of a solid team. Hopefully those components, which look absolutely fantastic on paper, will being to look fantastic where it matters: on the baseball diamond. 
Before I go, I just wanted to inform you guys about a couple of things: First of all, I will be at the Red Sox vs Rays game next Wednesday night! This is exactly what I wanted for my birthday. My parents asked me what I wanted, and I said, “Tickets to the Red Sox game.” I have tickets 12 rows behind the Red Sox dugout, so I will be getting there when the gates open to get autographs. The only downside is that it is right in between my finals, so I have a French final the next day (four hours away), but as you can see, I have my priorities straight. And as far as summer plans go, I have been lucky enough to get a few opportunities. If all goes according to plan, I will be shadowing Dan Hoard and Steve Hyder, the broadcasters of the Pawtucket Red Sox, for a week; and Mike Antonellis and others in the media relations department with the Portland Sea Dogs for a week (or maybe more). 

What Could Have Been, and What Is.

Before I start endlessly analyzing and fretting over the Hot Stove rumors, I want to talk about what is right before us: the League Championship Series. We have plenty of time to talk about the former–the void between the end of the postseason, and Spring Training. I have enjoyed watching these series even though the National League Championship Series didn’t end the way I wanted it to. 

I was completely surprised that the Dodgers lost in only five games. To be honest, I didn’t think they would get past the powerhouse of the Cardinals, let alone sweep them. With guys like Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, and Albert Pujols, I thought that the Cardinals would have gone a lot further than they actually did. They had the caliber to be in and to win the World Series, but fate just didn’t have it that way. I thought they had Game 2 (I think it was?) in the bag when there were two outs and an easy fly ball was hit to Matt Holliday, but instead of catching it to win the ball game (and perhaps instill some confidence in the Cardinals), it hit him right in the crotch. 
The Dodgers seemed to have luck on their side, and it was a 2008 NLCS re-match. The Phillies may have an emerging postseason legend in Cliff Lee and the ego-maniacal Cole Hamels whose pride from winning the World Series last season seemed to cloud his ability to pitch well, but the Dodgers have a deep lineup, a good starting five and a fabulous bullpen. I really wanted the Dodgers to advance to the World Series as well because I knew that regardless of whomever won the ALCS, the World Series would be enticing as long as the Dodgers were there. 
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Had the Dodgers advanced, they would have played either the Angels or the Yankees. If it was a matchup between the Dodgers and Angels, we would have had the first “subway series” since the one in New York in 2000. This subway series would have meant that I would have been up until roughly 2 am every morning, sleepwalking my way through school. Yet the intensity that arises from a series like this is so alluring, that a lack of sleep would have been well worth it. It’s almost like a civil war, and it will augment the rivalry between the two teams like nothing else can. 
Not that I would ever root for the Yankees, but if the Dodgers were representing the National League, I can’t say I would have minded too much if the Yankees were to advance. It would have been Joe Torre vs Joe Girardi. The Yankee manager that was fired for his supposed inability to advance the Yankees to the World Series despite their winning four World Championships under his leadership. 
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I’d like to talk about that for a second. I thought that whole scenario was completely ridiculous. I may be a Red Sox fan, but I have no problem admitting that Joe Torre is one hell of a manager. The same way that I can admit that I cheered for Derek Jeter when he surpassed Lou Gehrig, and the way that I consider Mariano Rivera a God; I consider Joe Torre a superb manager. I understand when managers are fired because their teams play miserably and are in last place, but I don’t understand when managers are fired despite their team getting to the postseason. Getting to the postseason is an honor–only 8 teams out of 30 do it a year–and a manager should be honored for that (most of the time) not scolded for their team’s failings. *Note: the whole Grady Little leaving Pedro in is another story*
Anyway, the Dodgers vs Yankees would have been a great matchup, and of course I would have been rooting for the Dodgers even though it hurts me to see Manny Ramirez’s postseason heroics. 
Instead of dwelling over what could have been, I suppose it’s best to look at what we have at hand: the Phillies advanced to the World Series, and Game 6 between the Angels and the Yankees is tonight. I don’t like the Phillies. I root for the Marlins because I live in South Florida, and the Phillies are the Marlins’ division rivals. I may be a bit jealous because the Phillies did what the Red Sox failed to do last year–advance to the World Series for the second year in a row (please don’t hate me Phillies fans, I respect your team nonetheless). They could be the first team since the Yankees to repeat World Series victories, and the second team this decade to have two World Series victories (the first, of course, was the Red Sox). I guess it’s just that having the Phillies in the World Series doesn’t excite me as much as the Dodgers would have. 
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Tonight, I’m rooting for the Angels–just like I have been for the entire ALCS. Although it’s hard to admit, they played better baseball than the Red Sox did. I know that they are a good team, and I know that they have what it takes to beat the Yankees. It is so foreign to me to be rooting for Bobby Abreu since I’ve always had something against him for taking Juan Pierre’s spot in the All-Star game a couple of years ago (the fact that he played for the Yankees only augmented this feeling). Torii Hunter’s ego may bother me, but I know that he’s a fabulous center fielder, and a great team leader. Lackey pitched his heart out in Game 5, and Mike Scoscia made a huge mistake in taking him out (for the record Scoscia is probably my least favorite manager in the Majors). Out of the teams that remain, I want the Angels to win. I want them to win it for Nick Adenhart, because that would be beyond baseball. 
The one interesting thing about having the Phillies in the World Series is that whoever wins from among the three teams that remain, that team will have two World Series victories in this decade. The Yankees won it in 2000, the Angels won it in 2002, and the Phillies won it last year. The question is, who will it be? And it is that unanswered question that keeps me watching baseball. 

The First Game of Spring

It seems that anything of significance in the baseball world happens in my English class. When the MVPs were announced, I was in English. When the HOF inductees were announced, I was in English. And when Josh Beckett took the mound for the Red Sox against the Boston College Eagles, guess where I was? English. On my way, I was searching for someone that I could beg to borrow his or her phone. No such luck. I was not able to see whether Josh Beckett’s first pitch was a ball or a strike. 

I did feel like I contributed to that game in some way, shape or form. I’m very superstitious when it comes to baseball, kind of like Jane as she describes in her book. Well, as I was taking my notebook out for my American History class second period, I realized that I had a Yankee book in my backpack. ‘That can’t be good chi,’ I thought, so I asked my friend to guard it in her locker. Nothing personal Jane, just superstitions. 
The Red Sox beat the Eagles 7-1. A couple minor leaguers, including Chris Carter, had a nice game, and Josh Beckett fired two perfect innings and struck out two. 
Disappointed as I was for missing the afternoon game, I was quite excited when I found out that the evening game would be broadcasted on MLB Network. 
Jacoby Ellsbury led off the first inning by swinging at the first pitch he saw. ‘Patience!’ I thought! Well, he learned from his mistake in his next at-bat, and waited a few pitches before flying out to left. The important part is, he did make contact. 
Dustin Pedroia collected the first hit of the game, hitting a nice double, which isn’t surprising for a guy coming off an MVP season. 
I watched in awe as Tim Wakefield took the mound for the Sox. That knuckleball of his has been around since 1995. He played in Pittsburgh before that! I can’t imagine him anywhere else but the Red Sox, I’m glad that the Sox decided to pick up his option. Wake gave up three runs over two innings– a few batters were able to time the knuckle ball down, but some of the runs were just results of balls that got through the gap. The defense was a little rusty, but what can you expect after a long offseason? I just hate those blooper balls that fall in the proverbial bermuda triangle. Those aggravate me, unless the Red Sox hit one. 
Those balls going through the gap even got to Youkilis, it wasn’t just Diaz (SS) and Khoury (3B). By the way, did you guys see Youk’s latest Youk Fu? I thought that was hilarious! 
Josh Bard did a nice job catching Wakefield’s knuckleball. I think he should work on throwing over to second, because it’s pretty easy to steal considering Wakefield’s knuckleball is basically 68 mph. There was also one play in which Brad Wilkerson, recently acquired from the Blue Jays (RF) threw the ball in from the outfield and Bard tried to tag the guy before catching the ball. In the future, let’s catch before tagging :)
Billy Traber tried to pull a Dice-K: loading the bases with no outs. Even though it is Spring Training, it still gave me a heart attack. Dice-K may be the only pitcher in the majors who can get himself into jams and get out unscathed. You’re not there yet Billy, baby steps. After giving up a few runs, Billy did settle down to throw a couple of nice pitches. 
Justin Masterson was sporting a beard, so he looks a bit older. Masterson, Delcarmen, Lopez, and Rairez all pitched beautifully, giving up zero runs over five innings. Masterson was a bit shaky at first, but he calmed down after a little bit. 
Let me tell you guys, I am very impressed with Ramon Ramirez. Much as I miss Coco, that was a great trade. Three up, three down and two strikeouts. Talk about a great first impression. I would make him my project, but my projects are strictly confined to minor leaguers. 
Speaking of projects, Jeff Bailey has pretty much secured his spot as one of my projects. I was aware of him when he was with the Red Sox in 2008, and I liked what I saw, so he was definitely on my radar for tonight’s game. I hope to see him this weekend, as well as Lars Anderson. 
Jed Lowrie looked pretty good tonight, solid effort with some of those balls up the middle and a nice triple with an RBI. Jeff Bailey had the other RBI. I’m in the process of getting to know these minor league guys, but I should have at least three projects by the end of the Grapefruit League. 
To answer Jacobyluvr’s question, Jed Lowrie was my project last year. I was waiting for autographs outside of the player’s parking lot, and he drove out slowly, so I ran into the middle of the street to get an autograph. I barely knew who he was! After that autograph though, I knew he’d be coming. 
Rem-Dawg was unable to join Don Orsillo at the game tonight, he has an infection. All of us here at Red Sox Nation, and even on the entire blogosphere hope you feel better. Now, the Red Sox can always call me if they need an extra play-by-play. I feel like they have a mic wired to my house because they always talk about whatever I just finished talking about within five minutes. Maybe I’ll do that someday. 
Overall, I was impressed with the Red Sox’s performance, and I cannot wait until tomorrow. I apologize for the lack of pictures, I had this post ready to go an hour ago, but as I was looking around the internet for pictures, I somehow closed this window, and the blog was lost.
I’ll be bringing back some pictures this weekend! 
-Elizabeth

Thanksgiving Dinner Consisted of… classic baseball games?

Even though baseball season is over, MLB.com/Live helps the baseball fans who are suffering withdrawal, cope with the offseason. Today, they showed Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, a classic game. curt-schilling-bloody-sock.jpg

It was the bloody sock game, where Curt persevered through seven amazing innings; 

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it was the game where A-Rod knocked the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove, and then claimed that he didn’t do it; and it was the game where Mark Bellhorn hit a controversial three run homer. The umps had to confer twice, once when Mark Bellhorn hit the home run because it was originally ruled a ground-rule double, but replays showed that it bounced off a fan. They conferred again after A-Rod knocked the ball out of Arroyo’s glove, and replays once again clearly showed that A-Rod was guilty. As Arroyo said when he was asked to comment about the situation: “It was desperate measures, during desperate times”. If these calls hadn’t been overturned, the entire series could’ve been completely different. But that’s the beauty of baseball right? I wish I had MLB.com/Live, that would’ve been a great game to watch. 
It was after Thanksgiving dessert, which consisted of apple pie or chocolate cake, and we were just looking through the TV Guide for something to watch. My dad and I were absolutely thrilled when we found out that Sun Sports was broadcasting a Tampa Bay Rays Encore game. It was the game from April 27, 2008, a Red Sox vs Rays game. It was Josh Beckett vs James Shields, one of the best match-ups in the game. You guys might remember this game if you saw the highlight of Beckett’s error on a pick-off attempt, and seeing the ball roll slowly into right field, and then JD Drew’s throwing error. Both errors combined to allow Jason Bartlett to score from first base. Mike Lowell was on the DL, although I don’t exactly remember why, and JD Drew was healthy because he was playing in right field. The way that you could really tell, that it was young in the season was that a) the Orioles were in first place, and b) Manny Ramirez was still on the Red Sox. They skipped through innings, which was kind of annoying, but it was just so cool to watch Pedroia bat and think, wow, that’s the future AL MVP right there, and he doesn’t even know it yet. And to see Jason Varitek behind the plate and be thinking, Theo’s got to re-sign him, no matter what. I didn’t even look up the score of the game, because that would’ve ruined the beauty of baseball a little. The Sox ended up getting swept but it didn’t matter. It didn’t even matter that it wasn’t a huge playoff game, the fact of the matter was, it was baseball, and that’s all that matters. 
Wednesday night, I had watched the Ken Burns baseball movies, 1970-1994 edition, and it was absolutely incredible to watch. Game 6 of the 1975 World Series… Carlton Fisk’s home run. It was so beautiful. And of course, Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. I hadn’t seen “the play” in a really long time. But it was absolutely heart breaking. God do I feel bad for Bill Buckner, but to be honest, it probably would’ve taken me a long time to forgive him, I wasn’t even alive during that time period, so I don’t know how it felt live. Red Sox agony is tough, as Burns put it. Cubs agony is never even getting there, but Red Sox agony is getting so close, but seeing it slip out of your hands. 
Thanksgiving was great here in South Florida, we drove up to see my grandparents in Stuart, FL and we had a huge dinner. We didn’t even have turkey ironically enough, we had a great pot roast, and some apple pie or chocolate cake for dessert. In a way, my thanksgiving dinner consisted of some classic, heart breaking, baseball games as well. 
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, filled with plenty of food, and plenty of things to be thankful for. 
-Elizabeth

A toast to the Red Sox, thank you for a great season. Congrats Rays.

FIrst of all, to the Rays. To beat us in Game 7, well… good job. Matt Garza pitched one hell of a game, so a tip of the cap to him. Jon Lester did pretty well himself, and perhaps JD Drew could’ve given him some extra run support in the top of the eighth if that umpire had correctly called that pitch. Dustin Pedroia produced our only run, with a home run in the top of the first. I’m thankful that TBS successfully broadcasted this one. A couple of mistakes by Jon Lester, sure, but other than that, he was pretty solid. 

I want to thank the Red Sox for one hell of a season. I had an exciting April-October as always, and everyone contributed to that. I have something positive to say about everyone
Pitchers:
-Josh Beckett: Thank you for pitching through your injuries. Your back spasms started in spring training, but you did all you could to help us. Thank you, and you still totally deserve the ’07 Cy Young.
-Daisuke Matsuzaka: Thank you for getting out of all those jams this year, and accumulating 18 wins. You were one of the best pitchers in baseball
-Jon Lester: Thank you for being our most consistent starter, thank you for throwing a beautiful no hitter to the Kansas City Royals on May 19. Thanks for getting us to the ALCS.
-Tim Wakefield: Thank you for being there for us since 1995. Thank you for adjusting to Kevin Cash after we released Doug Mirabelli before the season started.
-Clay Buchholz: Thank you for throwing a 3 hitter against the Rays early in the season, I’m sorry that they tried to change your strategy. I think that you’ll be able to fix it. Thanks for persevering though.
-Paul Byrd: Thanks for pitching some strong ball after we got you. 4-2!!! Thanks for going to the bullpen when we needed you too.
-David Aardsma: Thank you for a few innings of solid relief this year.
-Javier Lopez: Your delivery is pretty cool, and thanks for some pretty solid innings of relief this year, the bullpen is so under appreciated sometimes.
-Manny Delcarmen: Thanks for stepping up this year when we would need you too. If Jonathan Papelbon had been overused, sometimes we could turn to you in the ninth. You worked a lot for us. Thank you.
-Mike Timlin: Thank you for always assuring me when a game is over (just kidding, that’s really mean of me). Thanks for having such longevity and always being ready for us with a great attitude.
-Justin Masterson: Wow. You started in AA this season, and now you’re basically our eighth inning set up man, and a potential future starter. Thanks for stepping up, and performing the way you did. Can’t wait to see you next year.
-Hideki Okajima: Thank you for persevering through some hard innings this year. Even though you weren’t as lights out as last year, thanks for being solid in the post season.
-Jonathan Papelbon: Thank you for being absolutely incredible this year, thank you for having that intimidating stare, and that 98 mph fastball that no one can hit. Thanks for being a workhorse always ready to go. 
*To all the pitchers in general: Thanks for a great season, working through the tough ones and always being ready. It was a hard year, THANK YOU!
Catchers:
-Jason Varitek: Thank you for setting the example for this great team, and leading us in the right direction always. Thank you for persevering through a tough offensive year, and please re-sign with the Red Sox, for the health of Red Sox Nation. 
-Kevin Cash: Thanks for stepping up and catching all of Tim Wakefield’s games, it’s a huge help to give a day off to our captain and it’s hard to catch knuckleballs. 
-Kevin Youkilis: Thank you for being the rock of the Red Sox, thank you for getting clutch hits and lots of RBIs, you’re one of the biggest reasons we got to the post season.
-Sean Casey: Thank you for making me laugh that one time you over ran second, thank you for being the mayor and always light spirited.
-Jeff Bailey: Thank you for getting those few home runs, but I know you got them! I hope to see you up again!
-Mark Kotsay: Thank you for getting those few few few hits in the post season, but they were important. Thanks for playing some solid defense, it made a difference!
-Dustin Pedroia: Thank you for being in only your second season, and playing like a maniac. Thank you for being one of the best hitters in the majors, thank you for being so cool!
-Julio Lugo: Thank you for those few times that you made plays, thank you for throwing me that foul ball :)
-Jed Lowrie: Thank you for stepping up when Julio got hurt! You play a great short stop and you are a pretty good hitter. I hope to see you in the future. Thanks for signing my ball.
-Mike Lowell: Thanks for playing well when you could, and thank you for trying to persevere through your injuries. Thanks for playing a solid third base. I hope your surgery goes well!
-Alex Cora: Thank you for being a utility infielder, you play well anywhere.
-Jacoby Ellsbury: Thank you for stealing fifty bases, as a rookie. Thank you for making those wicked catches that virtually no one should make, they really made a difference. Thank you for getting some great hits, and I will always believe in you.
-Coco Crisp: Thank you for stepping up in the post season, and being a good sport about not starting everyday. Thank you for stealing when we needed you to, and thank you for being AWESOME and getting into that fight with James Shields.
-JD Drew: Thank you for having that wicked month of June, and thank you for turning it around this year, thank you for your clutch hits.
-Jason Bay: Thank you for stepping up and having a great season after Manny left. You aren’t a replacement, you are a Red Sox. I can’t wait to see you next year.
-*Ode to Manny Ramirez: I’m so sorry that you were unhappy in Boston, and I will always love you because of what you did for us. 
Terry Francona: Thank you for being the best manager in baseball, thank you for making all the right decisions, thank you for maintaining my trust, thank you for a great season.
Red Sox: Thank you, if it wasn’t for the collective effort that makes you up, we wouldn’t have pushed it to game 7. Thank you for making me feel the magic, and performing that game 5 miracle. I will always have faith. 
This isn’t the end of the world, we can’t expect to win every year. If we didn’t win with our 1967 dream team with people like Yaz, and Carlton Fisk, then we definitely can’t win every year. I’m amazed that we could even get this far with all our injuries.
Thanks for a great season Red Sox, probably the biggest understatement of the year. Words will never be able to describe how much I love you. 
Congratulations Rays, you’ve had one hell of a season.
-Elizabeth

Red Sox ALCS roster

Today marks the beginning of the NLCS. Philles vs. Dodgers, 8:22 tonight, it’s gonna be great. 

Terry Francona has released is ALCS 25 man roster (if I’m correct) and the only thing that I know for certain is that as of now, Mike Timlin is not on the roster. We’ll ***** that later. Let’s look at our starting pitchers for Games 1-4 first.
Game 1: Daisuke Matsuzaka. Hopefully he won’t give us a heart attack by getting two men on every inning and then miraculously getting out of a jam. He did pitch well in Game 2 of the ALDS though. 
Game 2: Josh Beckett. Will he be able to turn it around? After five laborious innings (of hell) in Game 3 of the ALDS due to his injury, will he be able to overcome that and give us one of his true, quality, post-season Beckett starts?
Game 3: Jon Lester. This guy has a 0.00 ERA as of right now. That’s kind of amazing. And to think, against the Angels? The best team in major league baseball? Wow. I’ve got no worries my friend
Game 4: Tim Wakefield. He has been inconsistent this year, but then again, he hasn’t gotten much run support either. Against Tampa Bay this season? I’m guessing not so well. But I have faith in him for this post season, I really do, and I think Red Sox nation has faith in our veteran. Will he be able to pull it together for the post season against Tampa? 
Let’s look at the bullpen (as far as I know)
-Paul Byrd: I think that it was a great decision to put Byrd in the bullpen. He has been pretty decent has a starter for the Red Sox this season since the acquisition and we definitely need more help in our bullpen. We can’t rely on Masterson every time. He’s collected pretty decent run support and I am confident that he can hold a lead, or maybe even a tie (maybe)
-Javier Lopez: I like this guy, although somewhat inconsistent I have plenty of confidence in him
-Manny Delcarmen: I like him, he’s been relatively consistent and did well in the ALDS.
-Justin Masterson: Besides Game 4, this guy was on fire during the ALDS. He’s a rookie and he was basically the 8th inning set up man for Pap. He was overworked in the ALDS but I am confident that he is going to be a huge factor for us in the ALCS.
-Hideki Okajima: Didn’t do his job in Game 4, inconsistent throughout the year, definitely not as lights out as last year. But remember how he was in the postseason last year? I think that he might be able to channel that energy and get it done in this ever so important series.
-Jonathan Papelbon: Have you seen this guy’s face when he’s staring down batters? Talk about intimidating! Have you seen him blow his 97 mph fastball right by some of the greatest players in the game? Do you know how intense this guy is? 
I could see Delcarmen–>Masterson–>Papelbon (with Delcarmen and Masterson switching) and switching that up. Hopefully our BP will be okay
Catchers:
-Jason Varitek: Our beloved captain who essentially saved the game by catching the man on third in that attempted suicide squeeze. He is our captain and he will lead us through this anticipated rollarcoaster of an ALCS
-Kevin Cash: Definitely not a huge offensive contributor, can’t throw a guy out at second, but this will be his first post season ever. If anyone should give him advice about first post season appearances, it’s definitely Jason Bay and Jed Lowrie (the two men who won the ALDS for us). 
-Ross: Who is this guy? He has hardly played with us and I really don’t see him playing much. 
Infielders:
-Kevin Youuuukilis
-Mark Kotsay
-Sean Casey
*I would really like to see some action with Sean Casey at first. Why not play Youkilis at third and Casey at first? 
-Dustin Pedroia: I think the ALCS is going to be his time to break out of his little post season slump. That is going to be short lived.
-Jed-i Lowrie: That is a great pun right there (as seen on redsox.com). Can’t ask for much more from this guy
-Alex Cora- Utility infielder and pinch runner. I’d prefer to use him as a pinch runner. 
*I’m not sure if Jeff Bailey is on the roster? But I like him, better than Kotsay for that matter.
Outfielders:
-Jason Bay: What a start to the post season for this guy! And an adorable daughter too!
-Coco Crisp: Maybe he will see more playing time this ALCS. Hopefully he will have a better one than last year.
-Jacoby Ellsbury: Did you see this navajo in Game 1? 3-5 2 steals, an RBI and one of his catches? Can’t wait to see him in the ALCS.
-JD Drew: Remember that Game 6 grand slam last year that helped to propel us? Yeah, I can see him propelling us through this series. How about those same numbers as June? 
I’m missing two guys. Is it Jonathan Van Evry? Looks like a pretty intimidating roster. 
Go Sox! 
-Elizabeth

ALCS and NLDS predictions/overview

Even though I am an avid Red Sox fan, let’s try and analyze as objectively as possible the division series. As October Gonzo says, we’re down to the “final four” and he’s made some predictions, but I have plenty of my own.

ALCS: Red Sox vs Rays
Lots of people have been talking about experience, and if you’re talking about that, then the Red Sox have it, but not necessarily in the best of ways. We’ve won the world series seven times, but think about all the times that we didn’t win. It’s a lot. Then again, the Sox did make the biggest comeback in major league history in the ’04 ALCS. But we’re not talking about the past, we’re talking about the present, and the future. The Rays have ultimately represented the “Cinderella Story” of baseball, they were dead last in 2007 and they won the division in 2008. What a turnaround. The question is, when do they run out of gas? As for the Red Sox, well, we have continually been plagued by injuries (as you can see in my first entry). Now we’re playing with an injured JD Drew and an injured Beckett (and his Game 3 ALDS performance was not satisfactory). Mike Lowell isn’t even eligible for play until the World Series, but as of now, he has no range of motion and his hitting is anything but stellar. Regardless of the injuries (which were evident in the ALDS), we just beat the best team in major league baseball, the Angels (100-62). The Rays have a lot to do. 
My prediction: Red Sox in 6 or 7 (just because we like to make it difficult for ourselves in the ALCS)
Dodgers vs Philles
To be honest, I don’t really keep up with the national league as much, but I’ll give you what I can. It is clear that the Dodgers have a renewed sense of spirit since their acquisition of Manny Ramirez, a future hall-of-fame man and a menace in the post season. It’s not much to say that they beat the Cubs in the ALDS because the Cubs just looked horrendous. Unfortunately, that’s just about all I can give you. The Philles on the other hand have been consistent throughout the season in a tough division. They have a scary offense too, look at Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell. I am no expert on predictions but I’m still going to make one. 
My prediction: Dodgers in 6 
Let’s take a look at the other teams who are no longer in the post season and what made them crumble.
Brewers: C.C. Sabbathia did not come through, and if he can’t come through, then I honestly don’t know who can. Against a strong Philadelphia pitching staff (assuming there…) their offense could only produce one win. They did have a nice run going for them though.
Cubs: It now marks 100 long years that the Cubs have not won a World Series, and watching that series, I wondered where the goat was. Their pitching was actually decent but their offense was just horrendous. Alfonso Soriano going 0-5? There’s definitely something off right there. They were so consistent throughout the year too, Cubs fans must be devastated. 
Angels: They had the best record in baseball, and last year, the team with the best record (the Red Sox) won it all. So the question is, how could they not win it? They have Vladmir Guerrero, Torii Hunter (SEVEN gold gloves), Chone Figgins, and the infamous K-Rod. On the one hand, they snapped a long drought of losses against the Red Sox in post season play, but they still failed to pick up more than one game. Virtually every game was close though since both teams are so strong. People like Jason Bay, Jacoby Ellsbury, JD Drew and of course, Jed Lowrie really did come through. Games 3 and 4 were undoubtedly the best. Game 3 lasted 12 long innings and Game 4 quite literally, went to the bottom of the ninth. This series, truly represented the beauty of baseball. Numbers don’t really matter, anyone can do it. 
White Sox: Their record was not as good as Tampa Bay (or the Red Sox for that matter) and the White Sox only won one game against the Rays… THE RAYS. What a crazy story that is. It’s not that they played horribly like their fellow Chicago team, they just could not matchup against the Rays. 
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