Clay Buchholz is still dealing, intermittently.

Clay Buchholz is still dealing, intermittently.

By all other accounting of my likes and dislikes in baseball, I shouldn’t enjoy Clay Buchholz as much as I do.

He has been famously inconsistent in his career, showing the ability to be among the very best pitchers in the league at times, unable to get to the mound at others, totally lost on said mound in between. He takes a long time to deliver the ball to the plate, he occasionally gets obsessed with runners at first and sometimes he’s finicky with his catchers.

He’s reliably unreliable, walking that line between ace and bottom-of-the-rotation fodder like it was a tightrope, occasionally spilling off and falling onto a trampoline below, only to spring back up.

But when he springs up, he can be a force, and that was the case again last night as he shut down the loaded Toronto Blue Jays lineup in one of the many games the Red Sox can’t afford to lose if they want to stay relevant in the 2015 pennant chase. (more…)

Here's Fred Lynn, in a uniform a lot of people don't remember him wearing.

Here’s Fred Lynn, in a uniform a lot of people don’t remember him wearing.

At this very moment, I’m not watching baseball. The Red Sox are hosting the Angels at Fenway Park and apparently Mike Napoli has already hit a home run, but I don’t think watching a game is in the cards for tonight.

Instead, I’m sitting here, reading about other experiences loosely tied to the game and listening to Elvis in my newly rearranged living room, realizing that I’m not quite writing about the game, or anything else, with the kind of frequency I’d like. I still write enough, in whatever that sense may be, and I’m still following along, watching as Hanley Ramirez tries to hit through a bad shoulder and the Sox continue to let great performances by a suddenly rejuvenated starting rotation fall by the wayside. They’re struggling. It’s reality and it’s not ideal but I’m comfortable with that.

But it’s in this moment that I wanted to write about baseball, even if the urge to watch a game they may or may not be winning is, at the moment, nonexistent. Just something to reflect on this thing that’s here for half of the year, just about always when it’s needed, always present regardless of whether or not I’m paying attention. (more…)

Josh Hamilton will try again back in Texas.

Josh Hamilton will try again back in Texas.

I’m sure a team has handled something worse than the Angels have handled Josh Hamilton’s relapse, but it’s not coming to mind at the moment.

Hamilton, a recovering drug addict with the unusual skill of being able to hit a baseball into the middle of the Pacific Ocean, has been traded from the Angels back to the Texas Rangers for basically nothing. The Angels will pay for the honor of not having to deal with him, in the apparent hope that he completely falls apart as a human being and becomes a destructive force on his new team.

If that seems a little cold, it should. Like most sports teams, the Angels talk a big game about how their organization is a family, but like few teams, they turned their back on an adopted family member quickly and brutally.

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Mookie Betts certainly knows how to make an entrance.

Mookie Betts certainly knows how to make an entrance.

In the second inning of Fenway Park’s Opening Day, Mookie Betts came to bat with Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon on base and sent a pitch that ricocheted off the third row of seats above the Green Monster. It was 4-0 so quickly that it felt like Pedro Martinez’s ceremonial first pitch was the one Betts rejected over the wall.

It’s served as a microcosm of his ascent from promising minor league infielder to starting center fielder for the Boston Red Sox in just one calendar year. He’s shot past so many other highly rated prospects to force his way onto the roster in the middle of a lost season last year, and today, he kept adding to his myth. It feels like he’s a character out of every sappy baseball script. He’s feeding every trope and cliche, smiling and hitting and leaving everyone wondering if this is history unfolding. (more…)

David Ortiz, the constant through all the upheaval.

David Ortiz, the constant through all the upheaval.

I called in sick to work for the first time in months on Friday. I’d been fighting some seasonal nonsense all week, and finally, I just needed a day to stay in, keeping my path no more ambitious than the bed to the couch and back.

In the middle of the day, there was a Red Sox Spring Training game on TV. I watched a couple of innings before losing interest. I was so out of it and so far from having baseball on the brain that I couldn’t focus on who was playing and why.

Thanks to a historic and depressing winter, this has been a month where all my old baseball rituals have flown out the door.

March has been thrown all out of whack in the Boston area thanks to freezing temperatures threatening to creep into April and the slogging weather exhaustion that affects everything. My girlfriend and I haven’t gone out to eat as much, or even on walks around the city, as much as would be typical for now. It has snowed every weekend for the past 10 weeks, a stretch that dates back to the first January blizzard. It’s always cold here, of course, but this has long gone past absurdity, and among the casualties has been any kind of usual baseball excitement.

The most basic of exercises would simply be watching Spring Training games on TV. Rather than serving as some kind of escape, it’s just a drag, with no enthusiasm coming in to the experience. Despite the calendar, it’s still winter, we still have plastic up on the windows and I don’t feel like watching sun-baked fans under palm trees casually enjoy Clay Buchholz going through his reps. I haven’t spent any kind of time scribbling out possible 25-man rosters in notebooks. I haven’t even watched Bull Durham yet.

So, what’s there to pull me back into baseball mode? If nothing else, there’s David Ortiz. (more…)