August 2012


Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford will forever be linked in New England.

Well that was unexpected.

On Friday afternoon, I hopped on a bus from my seaside studio apartment in New Bedford for Boston, typically a 90-minute journey thanks to rush-hour traffic. As usual, I had my headphones (and Sandinista! by The Clash) and a book (For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway), and just as the bus was pulling out of the station I pulled out my phone to see what the internet was up to.

And my side of the internet was quite engaged in the possibility of a baseball trade that seemed to be pulled from a nutjob radio caller’s brain: Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and, for reasons that will always be funny, Nick Punto were on their way to Los Angeles for first baseman James Loney and four minor leaguers.

Adrian Gonzalez, their All-Star first baseman, is in the first season of a seven-year, $154 million contract. Carl Crawford signed a seven-year, $142 million contract before 2011. Josh Beckett has two years remaining on his four-year, $68 million extension signed during the 2010 season. And Nick Punto has another year left. Good ol’ Nick Punto. (more…)

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So, all but four players on the Red Sox skipped Johnny Pesky’s funeral, as noted by some of the worst gossip columnists the great state of Massachusetts has to offer.

But I didn’t really blink.

Friends and coworkers can’t understand why I’m not bursting with outrage, why I’m not furious that the players of the baseball team I like skipped Pesky’s services. It’s not that it’s not upsetting; it’s terribly upsetting. Baseball is better when you’re at least partially convinced that the guys you root for are good people.

My outrage comes more at an idea and a belief that we, sports fans by large, are spoiled children. (more…)

Johnny Pesky, the soul of the Boston Red Sox since 1942, died today. He was 92 years old.

I don’t have a personal story to relay on this remarkable man, a career .307 hitter who spent 61 seasons with the Red Sox, and who gave three seasons serving America during World War II. Not that he didn’t meet a lot of folks in the region, I was just never lucky enough to be one of them.

My foremost memory of the man comes at the tail end of a middling season, not unlike the one the Red Sox are working through right now, where his boundless enthusiasm for the game presented itself once again.

I believe it was late in the 2006 season, when the Red Sox were reeling from a period where nearly their entire starting lineup was on the disabled list — Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez, Coco Crisp, Jonathan Papelbon, Alex Gonzalez, on and on, no one seemed safe. That September, Dustin Pedroia got his first taste of big-league action, and I distinctly remember seeing footage of Pedroia taking groundballs at second base with Pesky, then 85 years old.

Pedroia looked, at least defensively, like he was going to be a solid Major Leaguer, and he was never short on confidence. But even he was taken aback by the spry old man, who had sprung up from his folding chair to show him how to get down on the ball, how to wrap the throw back to first, how to crack a joke or two while it was happening.

It’s a lost little bit of trivia, a moment that repeated itself countless times with hundreds of players through the years, at the top level down through the minors, wherever Pesky worked. The ever-present love of baseball is the legacy that Pesky will leave on the game. He was a kind man, a teacher who never grew tired of showing kids how to get down on the ball, how to wrap a hit down the line, how to play the carom off the Green Monster.

He loved the Red Sox, and he loved baseball. For his efforts, for all the love of the game, the team and the fans that he put out in the air, he was overwhelmingly loved in return by all of New England.

Johnny Pesky, you will be missed.

Beyond being tall and left-handed, there is little similarity between Andrew Miller and Chris Sale. Obviously. But this was a diagram born out of an inside joke and the frustration of watching a classically ineffective lefty warming up for my favorite team.

As Cee Angi so eloquently explained in The Platoon Advantage yesterday, she sympathized with my plight in having to watch Miller pitch, and countered that she was taking the opposite experience, watching Chris Sale pitch for the Chicago White Sox at whatever they’re calling Comiskey Park these days.

So, of course, that led to this Venn diagram, comparing the two when there is no comparison. But I’d like to explain why, exactly, Miller gets under my skin as much as he does. (more…)