Results tagged ‘ Torii Hunter ’

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. 

Beginning of the Season Blues

As fans, I think that we tend to expect the best from our teams, especially at the beginning of the season–it’s only natural. There have been so many predictions that I think they eventually go to our heads, and we get ahead of ourselves because we focus on the end result rather than each and every game. 

This doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with starting out at 2-5 at all, the Red Sox worst start to the season since 1996. In fact, I barely shut up about it today. I guess that’s just a mix of me being tired from staying up late to watch all the West Coast games, and trying to figure out why we can’t score runs. 
Speaking of West Coast games, it seems like the Red Sox are getting a nice early dosage of those. That doesn’t really help me get my sleeping pattern back in order after Spring Break, but the games are obviously more important to me. 
The Almost-Brawl 
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It did not take long for this game to get exciting. In fact, it started in the bottom of the first. Chone Figgins has just hit a double (I think) and Bobby Abreu was at-bat. I really dislike Bobby Abreu, but not for the reason you think. In 2004, I wanted Juan Pierre to go to the All-Star game, and it was between him and Abreu (who was on the Phillies at this time). I spent an hour voting for Pierre over and over again, but Abreu was the one who went. I never forgave him, and going to the Yankees didn’t really help his case. 
Anyway, Beckett was taking forever to make the pitch because he kept looking back at Figgins. I was expecting Abreu to call time any second now, and I bet Beckett was waiting for Abreu to call time too– maybe even provoking him with the long wait. 
But Abreu decided to wait until the last possible second to make the call, and by last possible second I mean that Beckett was already in his windup. I hate it when batters do that. Beckett ended up throwing in the vicinity of Bobby Abreu’s head, even though Varitek called for the pitch low and away. 
First of all, I think that Abreu has been in the league long enough to know that Beckett isn’t the calmest guy in the world. He’s got a temper. It’s just not wise to call time on a guy like Beckett. 
Second, anything can happen when you call time in the middle of someone’s windup. It’s not like he can stop in the middle of his windup, I cannot have this man injured for the sake of my own personal health. When a pitcher’s concentration is broken, the ball can go anywhere. 
Abreu started mouthing off at Beckett first, and you don’t want to get Beckett angry by any means. Luckily, no punches were thrown but both sides were out on the field. A few Angels got tossed including Torii Hunter, Spier, and Sciosia. And according to Torii Hunter, what upset him wasn’t something said by the Red Sox. 
Beckett was not as dominating as his first start, but I wasn’t too disappointed with the outing itself. The Sox continued to frustrate me when they could not do anything about the runners that they had on base. I wasn’t able to see the last couple of innings though, I had to go out to dinner. But luckily, my dad found Gameday on his phone, so I was able to read that JD Drew struck out looking to end the ninth. Apparently, it was outside… but I did not watch so I can’t go on a rant. 
Late West Coast Games
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Baseball games aren’t really convenient when they start at 10:05 pm. I’ve figured out my whole ‘how-to-stay-awake’ routine. Two cups of coffee and keeping the light on normally works. Plus, tweeting away my woes helps out too. 
I think I’ve figured out that Jon Lester really isn’t an April guy. I remember not being very impressed with him at the beginning of last year, but then in May… well, you know the rest. It’s not like Jon Lester isn’t talented… it’s just one bad inning that kind of takes away from the rest of the night. 
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The worst was Nomar’s home run. The best way to describe my feelings towards Nomar is “emotional attachment”. It’s hard to let it all go, especially after everything he did with the Red Sox. His first career home run in September of 1996 happened to be against the Oakland A’s. And now, his first time playing against the Red Sox he hits a home run as a member of the A’s. 
And as Ian Browne pointed out in his blog, it was a bit eerie seeing him and Orlando Cabrera playing on the same side of the field. For those of you who don’t know the story, Orlando Cabrera was the shortstop that replaced took over for Nomar. And the Red Sox have never had a solid shortstop since. 

The Morning After
I probably came to school today with the most desolate look that I have had since the Red Sox lost the ALCS. Kathleen, the only Red Sox fan friend I have at my school, and I raved and raved about being 2-5. We wrote a haiku, and created our own lineups during classes. 
First period math today, I was forced to talk about the poor start to the season. I reported the scores to my teacher, and told him about Nick Swisher pitching (which I find hilarious, by the way). 
“How did the Red Sox do?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
Another person in the class offers to look it up on his phone, but it’s not like I need him reciting the grim box score out loud. 
My teacher claims he is going to look it up anyway: “Fine. It was 8-2″ I conceded
“Oh, I see why you didn’t want to talk about it. Nomar hit the home–” 
I sighed… Nomar, Nomar, Nomar. I am sorry. 
Suspensions
I found out after school today that Beckett got suspended for six games, for throwing at Abreu’s head. I don’t remember Joba Chamberlain getting suspended for six games after throwing at Kevin Youkilis’ head. In fact, I don’t even remember Youkilis charging the mound. And I don’t remember Terry Francona being difficult and refusing to go back to the dugout the way that Mike Sciosia did. 
Two cups of coffee again for me tonight, but hopefully I’ll be able to report happier news to my first period class tomorrow. 

Opening Week Thoughts

After Josh Beckett’s stellar performance on Opening Day, I was excited to see what the rest of the pitching staff was going to offer. I can’t say that I was thrilled with the three games that followed Josh Beckett’s, but I can say that I’m optimistic for the rest of the season. It is obvious that the Red Sox are still coming together as a whole, and transitioning from the Spring Training atmosphere to the regular season atmosphere. But as Kevin Youkilis pointed out, I’d rather be off to a slow start than have a bad finish. “There are bright things to come”. 

I was very excited for Wednesday’s game because I knew that it was going to be a pitcher’s duel. Those always keep me on the edge of my seat, even if they are a bit nerve racking. It seems to me that Lester and Kazmir serve the same purpose on their respective teams– dominant lefties. Then again, when I was in Tampa last year I did see Kazmir pitch nine straight balls. It was quite a game until around the fifth inning where the Rays exploded for four runs. I bet Carlos Pena’s home run was pretty “deflating” as Jon Lester called it. I’m trying to remember the situation, but maybe he could have put Pena on instead of pitching to him at a 3-1 count. Then there was that really weird play where Jason Bartlett had that suicide safety squeeze or whatever you call it. Poor Lester looked so lost, but at least these looks of confusion are happening at the beginning of the season rather than the middle. 
Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez looked good that game, and Takashi Saito did alright after giving up that home run on the second pitch. As soon as he gave up that home run, I thought back to that game in 2007 where Okajima gave up a home run on his very first pitch. Frustrating for sure, but then he was completely dominant the rest of the season. Perhaps there will be a similar pattern to Saito’s performance this year. The main thing that I noted about Lester though was that he wasn’t really hitting his spots. He would shake off Varitek a lot and after the first two innings, the command just wasn’t really there. If I was a pitcher on the Red Sox, I wouldn’t shake off Varitek too much. He definitely knows what he’s doing. 
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The final game of the series offered another great matchup between Matt Garza and Dice-K Matsuzaka. I swear, Matt Garza looks and acts like a snake. His tongue is always out! Whenever Dice-K pitches, I’m always a nervous wreck. This time, it wasn’t because he walked the bases loaded, he only walked three. His command wasn’t really present and he gave up three home runs.
My incessant hunger became overwhelming as I watched this game, and I needed something to munch on. Eventually, dry roasted peanuts and sunflower seeds became available. Pretty good baseball food. The more nervous I became, the more inclined I was to munch, but for the most part I was able to restrain myself… until Justin Masterson loaded up the bases in the top of the ninth. Luckily, Jacoby Ellsbury squelched my anxiety as he made a beautiful running catch.
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The next night, the Red Sox played the Angels… the first game the Angels would be playing after the tragedy. That game, I wasn’t as compulsively rooting for the Red Sox as I usually do. I was comfortable with watching a good baseball game, and I was comfortable with the fact that the Red Sox lost. There were much bigger things going on that night than winning and losing. I did rush home though, and I was the one driving so it was a lot easier to put the pedal to the metal and run those yellow lights that may have been transitioning into red. I made myself coffee because I tend to have trouble staying awake for the West Coast games, especially in a dark room. 
It must have been hard for Jered Weaver to pitch that night. I didn’t even realize until after the game that Nick Adenhart was supposed to move in with him that Friday. Weaver had 8 strikeouts in 6.2 innings, and as he walked off the mound, he pointed to the sky. That was beyond baseball. 
Brad Penny started the next game (yesterday’s) and even though his command wasn’t totally there, he still looked pretty healthy, which made me happy. I started watching this game in the third inning because I was at my grandparents house and I didn’t really expect the game to be on TV. If Brad Penny was feeling healthy, than that’s pretty good news because he will be great to have on the rotation if he is healthy. His velocity was up there, so for a guy coming off the worst season of his career, I would say that he did pretty well.
The offense finally woke up during this game. After the very first game where almost everyone got a hit, a few people fell off the radar. Kevin Youkilis was basically on fire until yesterday (still hitting .526 though) and Jacoby was just starting to wake up and get on base. Unfortunately, Pedroia and Big Papi haven’t been producing much. Big Papi is definitely due to say the least. Jason Bay came out of the gate swinging so that has made me pretty happy. Especially for a guy who generally has a pretty crappy April. I think that Mike Lowell is starting to wake up too. And where is Jed Lowrie?? He had a monster Spring, and here I am waiting for him to transition. I hope that he and Papi have big days today. 
Jonathan Palebon gave me a heart attack in the bottom of the ninth inning. First the home run to Torii Hunter, and then the bases are loaded. My grandparents are laughing at me as I bury my face in my hands and peek through them. Howard Kendrick hit something like seven foul balls in a row. Papelbon claimed to be “giggling” but I sure wasn’t– not with the bases loaded. My mother came over wondering what was going on since I had promised her that it was one more out five minutes ago. 
“Are you bad luck?” I asked somewhat accusingly as she came over. Last time she was near the vicinity, Papelbon had walked a guy, and we were not walking in the tying run. Luckily, she wasn’t bad luck, and Papelbon miraculously got out of it. I was able to breathe again. 
Last game of the Red Sox vs Angels series coming on in a little while. Can’t wait to watch Beckett pitch again, and I kind of want to see Chris Carter in this game. 

ALDS Game 2 and part of 3

I didn’t get to see Game 2, but it must have been great. I saw it get to 5-5, it must have been crazy. Dice-K did decently as always… always putting two on and then miraculously getting out of it. Masterson did well, pretty cool how he’s a ROOKIE in the post season… hasn’t even been up the entire year. He’s kind of like the new set up man if you think about it. Papelbon pitched GREAT. And then in the top of the ninth with Youkilis on, JD Drew SLAMS ONE and the score is 7-5 and Papelbon closes it out! Hopefully he’ll have a pretty good break now since he (and Masterson) have pitched in the first two games.

I’m in the process of watching game 3 now, and Jacoby has been involved in all 4 runs. First getting 3 RBIs on this crazy bloop single that Torii Hunter surprisingly did not catch. It was a ***********. Then, in the fifth, Jacoby hits a double off the wall and Youk hits another double that scores Jacoby. And Mike Napoli? What the hell? He doesn’t do ANYTHING!!! Beckett hasn’t looked that great. 4-4 bottom six. Gotta love it. I live for this. 
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