I feel like I wind up writing about Hanley Ramirez a lot. I don’t know when or if he became one of my “favorite” players — those select few who get cataloged and immortalized in t-shirts and stupid toys that surround my desk because I am, you see, an adult — but I damn sure find myself fascinated with him. I saw him play shortstop in Portland in 2005 and his trade just about sealed a World Series for the Red Sox two years later. And then he was the best player in the world for a couple of years. It’s quite a backstory.
That’s not how it gets told, though. It’s that he’s difficult, he can’t play in the field, he’s weird, he’s whatever.
What he’s been at his best, though, is a hitter with a flair for entertainment. And through the first seven games of the 2018 season, Ramirez — fully healthy and enjoying the moment — has spent most of his time delivering the Red Sox from possible early losses. Continue reading
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
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
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. Continue reading
Driving home around 4 p.m. yesterday up the Southeast Expressway, I realized I needed to buy new windshield wipers. The levels of snow and salt and frozen rain and more snow have taken their toll, leaving giant streaks that immediately smudged and fogged up and took the already limited visibility of the early stage of what is now our fourth major snow storm in the past three weeks (plus all those little 3-5 inch jobs in between) down to almost nothing. I have to think I used most of my windshield wiper fluid cleaning up as I drove the final 10 miles home.
So, windshield wipers are on my shopping list now. I’ve already bought four new tires, road salt and extra long johns to wear underneath all the other layers that have been somehow even more necessary that usual. After I got home, the latest blizzard really got to work, and I woke up this morning to the most snow I’ve ever seen. Seven feet of snow have fallen in Boston and practically none of it has melted. February in New England is never a picnic, but this is insanity.
And so begins the search for little victories in this never-ending blizzard. There are a lot of movies to catch up on. We try to get out for a drink every couple of nights just to get out of the apartment. We caught a Celtics game a week ago, which was a blast and a nice taste of normalcy in this psychological experiment disguised as winter. Continue reading