Rick Nash and a return to something old

Yesterday afternoon, I went flipping through the channels in that first bit of post-Olympics viewing and landed on the Red Sox and Orioles in Spring Training. I know that happened because my primary memory of this was in seeing the Orioles’ hats with a full-bodied cartoon bird swinging a bat, which was cool. That cartoon bird is hard to mess up, and with the mostly leisurely and whimsical nature of Spring Training, that kind of graphic works nicely on a hat.

The other thing I remember is that the Red Sox apparently have three different guys wearing no. 18 in camp, which pretty much sums up where the two guys not named Mitch Moreland stand on the odds table to make the team.

But that’s about it. The game was on, but I was mostly waiting for the Boston Bruins’ pregame to start, since they’d swung a trade for the New York Rangers’ Rick Nash earlier that morning. It cost them two draft picks, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey’s exiled contract and a college prospect, but they got it done and added a big, rough-and-tumble goal scorer to David Krejci’s line. It’s not the Ryan McDonagh trade I wanted them to swing with New York, but it’s pretty good. Continue reading

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Hanley Ramirez and the long, repeating thaw

I feel like I spend a lot of time just looking for something I already know. At least, something familiar.

As baseball goes, that feeling is certainly rearing itself lately. Thanks to work commitments, especially busy weekends and the fact that the Celtics and Bruins are each chasing their own shot at postseason glory, I’ve probably watched the least Spring Training baseball as I have in years. I go to box scores, I look quickly to see who’s still on the roster and who’s been jettisoned back to the minor leagues and, sometimes, I watch highlights.

There have been a few memorable ones in there. A few guys, like Xander Bogaerts, have been off at the World Baseball Classic, and that’s been on a channel I don’t get. But there’s Pablo Sandoval, showing that he’s got something useful in the tank. There’s Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi, looking like the second coming of the Evans-Lynn-Rice outfield. There’s plenty if you’re looking for it. Continue reading

Goodbye, Papi

david-ortiz-topps-archive-2012My reaction was pretty typical. Travis Shaw hit that last fly ball into right field, it was caught and I turned off the TV. That was the end of the series, the end of the season and in that situation, I’m not typically into watching Cleveland celebrate the end of another year on the Fenway field.

Mostly, I wasn’t in the mood to watch others celebrate while David Ortiz’s career was now relegated to the past tense.

The last few weeks of the 2016 season have felt like a gauntlet, a “this is your life” played out every third or fourth day whenever Ortiz happened to be playing his final game in that particular stadium. And it was nice. Some of it was hokey, some of it was in pitch-perfect taste, some of it was overblown in that special way that every Red Sox ceremony is horrifically overblown. But they were all reminders that the clock was ticking. Sooner rather than later, Ortiz wouldn’t be in Boston’s lineup. Continue reading

The night Boston climbed on Hanley Ramirez’s back

Hanley looked more than ready to swing the bat last night.

Hanley looked more than ready to swing the bat last night.

Matt Barnes has been on the cusp of being a blazing option out of the bullpen for nearly a year and a half now. He can hit the upper 90s on the radar gun and on pure talent, he could be a starter or a shut-down closer.

He’s been stuck in between, though. And on the most ridiculous night in what has already been a rollercoaster season, he was summoned to the mound in the sixth to clean up Tommy Layne’s mess in an especially messy game. Drew Pomeranz cruised through three innings against the San Francisco Giants and was given an 8-0 lead before falling apart in the fourth inning. Soon enough it was 8-5, and three pitchers and two innings later, it was 8-7 and up to Barnes to get the Red Sox out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam.

Ultimately, he was brilliant, pitching three full innings, striking out two and walking none on his way to helping Boston to a 11-7 victory. And his first bit of brilliance was triggered by Hanley Ramirez starting a double play that wound up being just one of maybe five or six great moments for him on this night.

On any other night, Barnes going three innings to bail out the bullpen and shutting down the best team in baseball would be the story of the game. But it’s hard to ignore Ramirez whizzing around with the glove, hitting three home runs and putting the team on his back in a way we haven’t before seen. Continue reading

What Would Dave Parker Do?

Dave Parker, crushing it.

Dave Parker, crushing it.

A few years ago at a place of business we shall leave nameless, I was feeling less than inspired. It was hard to see what, if any, impact I was really making beyond just getting through another day without throwing an inkjet printer three floors down into the lobby. It’s your run-of-the-mill office restlessness, but it was mine and it came at a point where it all felt like one cumbersome weight.

The saving grace here was that I wasn’t alone. I had three or four co-conspirators who were just as frustrated and annoyed by our rigid 8-to-5 life, and we came up with a series of inside jokes to help pass the time.

One of them featured the gentleman in this card, Dave Parker. By the time I learned about him, he was augmenting the Bash Brothers in Oakland, a still-viable designated hitter in his late 30s who could send 20 or more baseballs out of the park. We discovered some truly amazing pictures of Parker in his earlier days as a veritable baseball hurricane in Pittsburgh, winning MVP awards and sporting some terrifying face gear and occasionally lighting one up in the dugout. We printed up all of these and hung them up around the office.

I also had this card of him as a Milwaukee Brewer and I taped it to the monitor of my computer. When things got tough or our boss gave us yet another meaningless or impossible task, it was, “be strong like Dave Parker,” or “what would Dave Parker do?”

It’s March now. This is the time to start thinking about baseball and bitching about lineups and Spring Training scores, typically. But always, it seems like a good time to chill before crushing whatever problem is staring us in the face into oblivion.

What would Dave Parker do? He’d chill. Then he’d take care of business.

Cobra