As you may or may not know, I write a weekly column over at SouthCoastToday.com (the Interweb arm of The Standard-Times out of New Bedford, Mass.), and while I don’t typically link to stuff from here to there (it’s only on baseball some of the time), it seemed appropriate in this case.
This week, I waxed poetic a bit on Pedro Martinez’s return to the Red Sox, And since I’ve dedicated so much time to the man and his 98-MPH fastball bursting out of a 5’10” frame, it seemed appropriate to share it here.
Enjoy. Also, subscription may apply, so there’s that.
I have to imagine this was a grand slam against Tim Wakefield.
In the early and mid-2000s, there existed a career reserve outfielder who worked mostly in Canada and, it seemed, specialized in making the lives of the Boston Red Sox miserable every time he stepped to the plate.
Game after game, in one of their 19 annual matchups, the Blue Jays’ Frank Catalanotto hit everything in sight whenever the Sox were the opposition. One night in the newsroom, I blurted out that “Catalanotto must be hitting .700 against the Red Sox.”
“.700?!,” my editor asked incredulously. “When have you ever seen him make an out?”
Probably once, I thought, but damned if I could actually think of one. Point made.
Catalanotto, in 106 career games against the Red Sox, hit .314 with an .891 OPS, 11 home runs and 52 RBI, made a habit of tormenting Boston, first with Toronto and later in a return trip to the Texas Rangers. Those 11 home runs accounted for more than 13 percent of his career total (84), while the 52 RBI fits in at 11 percent of 457. It was only when he travelled to the National League in 2009 that I finally began to feel safe.
It was Catalanotto who popped in my head when I saw a stray clip of Mike Napoli in camp with the Red Sox in Fort Myers, free of his catcher’s gear with the likelihood that he’ll be penciled in at first base for most of this season.
Start after start, Webb put his head down and went to work.
I was on the couch, home early from work, when Brandon Webb took the mound in Chase Field against the Rockies on Opening Day 2009. There had been reports out of Spring Training that he was feeling some discomfort and would be pitching at less than 100 percent, but that hardly seemed concerning. For a pitcher who wasn’t yet 30 and had been the picture of consistency for three seasons running, it was assumed (by me, at least) that he would be fine in the long run.
Four innings later, he was out of the game, having given up six runs and two home runs. And, with yesterday’s announcement that he would be retiring from baseball, that was the last the baseball world saw of Brandon Webb. (more…)