April 19, 2014

G18: Red Sox 4, Orioles 2

Orioles - 100 001 000 - 2  5  1
Red Sox - 100 100 20x - 4  6  1
Brock Holt's triple scored Mike Carp, snapping a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning. Then Holt scored an insurance run on Jonathan Herrera's bunt down the first base line.

David Ortiz hit a solo home run down the right field line in the fourth. ... Ortiz and Pedroia each had two hits and a run scored. ... Doubront (6.2-5-2-2-7, 107) was followed by Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara.
Felix Doubront / Bud Norris
Sizemore, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Carp, LF
Ross, C
Holt, 3B
Herrera, SS
Bradley, CF
Happy 24th birthday, Jackie Bradley! ... Xander Bogaerts, who has the day off, leads the team with a .411 OBP.

April 18, 2014

G17: Orioles 8, Red Sox 4

Orioles - 103 020 101 - 8 15  0
Red Sox - 000 120 100 - 4 11  0
Nick Markakis lined John Lackey's first pitch of the game down the left field line. The ball landed foul, kicking up only dirt to the left of the chalk line.

Third base umpire Will Little signaled a fair ball and Markakis pulled in at second with a double.

Boston manager John Farrell challenged the call. As two umpires donned headsets to listen as the play was reviewed, Fenway Park's scoreboard showed replays of the ball landing foul. So now everyone in the park knew the ball was not a double. After a delay of roughly three minutes, the word came from New York that Little's initial call was upheld. It was a double.

It's bad enough that an umpire, properly aligned over the foul line (as I assume Little was), cannot make the correct call on a ball landing only several yards away, and directly in front of him. But to have clear, convincing replays showing the ball landing in foul territory - no white chalk dust was kicked up by the baseball - and STILL have the wrong call stand is maddening.

On a call so obvious that still gets called wrong, one has to wonder: why? Are the officials reviewing the plays in New York legally blind? Are they flipping a coin to determine their decisions? Perhaps they are continuing to punish Farrell, who expressed his distinct lack of faith in the replay system after another blown call (in the Yankees series) was upheld? If the answers to those questions are "no", then why are clear calls being blown? Will we hear after this game - as we did after that Yankees game - that MLB did not have access to all of the replays shown on television - a patently absurd excuse? With each blown call, MLB umpires are revealing themselves as nothing but incompetent arbiters, not worthy of holding jobs in the major leagues.

Naturally, Markakis ended up scoring in the inning, on Adam Jones's single. In the third, Baltimore put the game out of reach, scoring three times, and taking a 4-0 lead. Markakis knocked in one run with a "real" double to right field and Nelson Cruz singled two more runners home.

Lackey (5.1-10-6-4-6, 100) allowed six runs for the second consecutive start.

It was another frustrating night for the Red Sox bats. They loaded the bases in the second with one out, and could not score. And when it looked like they might come back, they stranded two runners in each of the fourth and fifth innings.
John Lackey / Chris Tillman
Sizemore, LF
Nava, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Napoli, DH
Carp, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Pierzynski, C
Bradley, CF
Holt, 3B
Ryan Roberts has been designated for assignment; Brock Holt has been called up from Pawtucket.

Boston is home for the next seven games, four against Baltimore and three against the Yankees.

April 17, 2014

G16: Red Sox 3, White Sox 1

Red Sox   - 000 001 002 - 3  5  0
White Sox - 000 001 000 - 1  8  0
Jon Lester (8-7-1-0-9, 112) retired the first 16 Chicago batters and the Red Sox bats - non-existent again through eight innings - awoke in the ninth, with David Ross's double snapping a 1-1 tie.

After Wednesday night's 14-inning game, Boston needed Lester to pitch deep into the game - and the lefty delivered. The White Sox did not hit a ball out of the infield until the fifth inning. After Xander Bogaerts homered to deep left off Chris Sale (7-1-1-3-10, 127) in the top of the sixth (444 feet), Lester surrendered three straight hits (to Chicago's 8-9-1 hitters) as the White Sox immediately tied the game.

Chicago put the pressure on in the seventh and eighth innings. In the seventh, Adam Dunn singled and attempted to score from first on Alejandro De Aza's two-out double. Daniel Nava got the ball out of the right field corner and Dustin Pedroia relayed it on to David Ross, who put the tag on Dunn, who by the time he rounded third had lost almost all of whatever speed he possessed. In the eighth, facing a first-and-third situation, Lester fanned Dayan Viciedo to escape trouble.

Boston managed only one hit through the first 8.1 innings (X's HR). But Mike Napoli reached on an infield hit to third off reliever Ronald Belisairo and pinch-hitter Mike Carp laced a single to left, setting the stage for Ross's run-scoring double. Daniel Nava was walked intentionally and Scott Downs came in to face Jonathan Herrera, who was hitting for Ryan Roberts. Herrera bunted the first pitch down the first base line and Downs simply stood and watched it - and it stayed on the grass for a single. Pinch-runner Grady Sizemore crossed with Boston's third run.

Koji Uehara, making his first appearance since missing a few games with shoulder tightness, pitched the ninth without fanfare. He gave up a two-out single, but retired pinch-hitter Jose Abreu on a hard grounder to third to end the game.

The Red Sox (7-9) head home for a weekend series against the Orioles, a four-game set that includes Monday's Patriots Day contest.
Jon Lester / Chris Sale
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Gomes, LF
Ross, C
Nava, RF
Roberts, 3B
Bradley, CF
Koji Uehara is available to pitch tonight.

Fun Facts From Last Night's 14-Inning Walkathon

Gordon Edes shares some facts, including:
The Red Sox became the first team since at least 1920 to reach base safely at least 23 times in a game in which they had six or fewer hits, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Fifteen walks, two hit batsmen, six hits.

This was the eighth time in club history the Red Sox have received 15 or more walks in a game. The club record is 18, in a 14-13, 12-inning loss to the Tigers on Sept. 17, 1920.

The 275 pitches thrown by eight White Sox pitchers, including utility infielder Leury Garcia, are the most ever thrown by a White Sox team in a game of 14 innings or fewer.
Here is the box score of that September 17, 1920 game.

Alex Speier of WEEI notes:
The Sox were 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position, a circumstance in which they are now hitting .184 this year. ...

The fifth through ninth spots in the Red Sox lineup combined to go 1-for-26.
Baseball Reference and ESPN both have the Red Sox hitting .192 with RISP (not .184), which is actually better than two teams: Kansas City and Houston. ... With RISP and two outs, the Red Sox are batting .179 in their 15 games so far.

April 16, 2014

G15: Red Sox 6, White Sox 4 (14)

Red Sox   - 100 000 011 010 02 - 6  6  2
White Sox - 100 002 000 010 00 - 4 10  0
Jackie Bradley's double with two outs in the fourteenth inning - a rope down the right field line - scored two runs and gave the Red Sox a much-needed victory in Chicago. Daniel Nava and Jonathan Herrera - who had both walked with two outs - scored on the play.

Until that moment it had been a supremely frustrating night for the Red Sox. Dustin Pedroia (double), Xander Bogaerts (RBI single), and David Ortiz (single) began the evening with three consecutive hits off John Danks (6-3-1-4-3, 111) - but Boston would not get another hit until there was one out in the ninth. (That run was also Boston's first first-inning run this season.)

Nine White Sox pitchers issued a total of 15 walks - and that generosity was how the Red Sox were able to both strand the bases loaded in the third and eighth innings, and tie the game with single runs in the eighth and ninth frames.

Chicago manager Robin Ventura used four relievers in the eighth, trying to preserve a 3-1 lead attained when Alexie Raimrez homered with a man on in the sixth off Buchholz (6-6-3-2-6, 109). Boston worked four walks - each reliever franked one batter - and A.J. Pierzynski's sacrifice fly closed the gap to 3-2. In the ninth, two more walks and an infield single loaded the bases before Grady Sizemore tied the game with a sac fly to left.

The teams traded runs in the eleventh. Pedroia walked and took second when Bogaerts (who reached base five times) was hit for the second time in the game. Ortiz forced XB at second, and Pedroia took third. Jonny Gomes's sac fly to the track in left brought in FY easily. Edward Mujica came in to close out the win for the visitors, but he faltered by walking Jordan Danks, the leadoff batter. Danks stole second, took third on a grounder to first, and scored on Tyler Flowers's single.

Time of game: 5:17. Boston improved its record to 6-9.
Clay Buchholz / John Danks
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Gomes, RF
Sizemore, LF
Pierzynski, C
Nava, 1B
Roberts, 3B
Bradley, CF
Mike Napoli will not play tonight, but he is day-to-day after dislocating his left ring finger sliding into second base in last night's game. ... Koji Uehara plans to throw in the bullpen this afternoon and could pitch as soon as tomorrow night. ... Dustin Pedroia received a cortisone shot on Monday for his sore left wrist.

April 15, 2014

G14: White Sox 2, Red Sox 1

Red Sox   - 000 100 000 - 1  3  1
White Sox - 010 000 001 - 2  5  0

Jake Peavy / Erik Johnson
Sizemore, LF
Bogaerts, SS
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Nava, RF
Pierzynski, C
Roberts, 3B
Bradley, CF
Herrera, 2B
After winning two of three in the season-opening series in Baltimore, the Red Sox (5-8) have lost seven of ten games.

The wide range of BABIP (batting average on balls in play): Jackie Bradley (.409) and Daniel Nava (.156).

John Farrell had some strong words for MLB's new instant replay system - "It's hard to have any faith in the system" - and MLB has fined him for those comments.

AL East Note: Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore will undergo Tommy John surgery.

Two Quotes: Baseball And Writing

Two quotes from books I recently read:
Baseball is the slow creation of something beautiful. It is the almost boringly paced accumulation of what seems slight or incidental into an opera of bracing suspense. The game will threaten never to end, until suddenly it forces you to marvel at how it came to be where it is and to wonder at how far it might go. It's the drowsy metamorphosis of the dull into the indescribable.
Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again At A Decent Hour
Writing was great, he thought. You suffered and you agonized and you were beset by doubts and fears, and then you finished a book and left absolutely ecstatic, convinced that you were great and your book was great and your future was coming up roses.

That lasted for about a week, and then you realized that you were washed up, that you'd never do anything decent again, and look at you, you indolent slug, why were you just sitting around doing nothing? Why weren't you writing something?
Lawrence Block, Small Town
On April 10, Cleveland's Danny Salazar became the first pitcher in the modern era to record 10 strikeouts in fewer than four innings.

Same Old Story ("Jackie Bradley Jr. may be the best argument against making too much of small samples we've seen in some time.") (Howard Megdal, Sports on Earth)

My Life As A Cleveland Indian: The Enduring Disgrace Of Racist Sports Mascots (Jacqueline Keller, Salon)

Sins Of The Preacher: How Chad Curtis Went From Hero To Convict For Sexual Misconduct (Greg Hanlon, Sports on Earth)

Pat Tillman, The Boston Marathon And The Tale Of Two Anniversaries (Dave Zirin, The Nation)

"Computers Have Ruined Baseball"

That's the first sentence of a baseball column written by Scott DeSmit.

In 2014.

It gets better. Oh, yes, it does. DeSmit's ignorance is like quicksand. Once you start reading, you won't be able to tear yourself away.

Hat tip to Deadspin.

April 14, 2014

Good News On Pedroia's Wrist And Uehara's Shoulder

Peter Abraham and Nick Cafardo, Globe:
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia does not have a serious injury to his left wrist, and he told the Globe that he received "great news" after being examined by team doctors on Monday.

Further tests are being done in Boston today, but Pedroia should be fine based on the preliminary results, according to a major league source, and he will not be placed on the disabled list. ...

The Red Sox also sent closer Koji Uehara to Boston for an exam on his right shoulder. Uehara had a successful throwing session in New York on Monday and is expected to rejoin the team in time for Tuesday's game.

Guest Post: military propaganda at sports events reaches new extremes: continuous recruitment ads at baseball games

A guest post from my partner, Laura Kaminker, wmtc:
I've recently returned from a lovely trip to Boston, filled with so many of my favourite things: friends, family, books, and baseball.

I love Fenway Park, and I'm always happy to be there. On this trip, we saw three great games, two of them wins, so I was thrilled. The games were marred by only one thing: nearly constant propaganda for the US military. This is not an exaggeration.

Throughout Fenway Park, as in many sports venues, there are monitors showing a TV feed of the action on the field. Right now, between innings, the Fenway Park monitors show a continuous feed of advertising for the United States Army. During the game, the ads continue on a sidebar beside the action.

Let that sink in a moment. The constant advertising crammed into every moment of the ballgame, and the constant linking of sports and the military, are now joined in this doubly offensive development.

There is something particularly Orwellian about watching a baseball game while a constant stream of silent images of war and military run in your peripheral vision.

I gathered from the brief branding displays that the ad feed is supplied by Access Sports Media. According to its website, Access Sports Media
provides advertisers cross-platform solutions engaging passionate fans in sports venues nationwide through digital out of home, social media, mobile, and in-venue sponsorships. Access Sports reaches more than 110 million viewers annually through a national footprint of 200 sports properties and a digital network of over 20,000 screens across professional, minor league and college sports.
Its list of clients includes many major corporations, a few specific products, and - listed first - the US Army.

The Army ads themselves stem from a campaign written about here in The New York Times, called a "reality" theme without a trace of irony. Of course, it bears little resemblance to reality. There are no bombings, no destroyed villages, no torture prisons. No amputations, no traumatic brain injury, no alcoholism, no domestic violence, no suicides.

The ads are built around the slogan "Army Strong": "There's strong, then there's Army Strong". This is a particularly good sell for a Boston-area audience: after the Boston Marathon bombing, the city rallied to a cry of "Boston Strong". The Times article notes that the ads are
an example of what is known on Madison Avenue as a program-length commercial or infomercial. Once the province of gadgets peddled with hard-sales entreaties like, "But wait, there's more," such longer spiels have been embraced by well-known brands like AT&T, Bing, Chase and Teleflora, along with a number of automakers.

Program-length commercials are becoming more popular as part of a trend known as content marketing, sponsored content or branded entertainment. The trend is meant to counter the growing habit — particularly among younger consumers, like the target audience for the Army, ages 18 to 24 — of ignoring traditional forms of advertising.
The "Army Strong" ads at Fenway are a barrage of quick-cut images emphasizing camaraderie and bonding, toughness and strength, dirt and grit, and stirring patriotism. Men (I saw no female soldiers in the ads, although there might be one somewhere) worked hard and played hard, always together, often dirty, but always serious and strong. In a world where career choices often involve life behind a desk or tethered to a computer, the men in these ads were running across rugby fields, rappelling down snow-covered mountainsides, parachuting out of airplanes, and using lots of exciting-looking equipment.

Only two quick images gave any hint as to why so many men are running, rappelling, shooting, and seeing the world through night-vision goggles. In one image, a woman in a hijab slides a slip of paper in a ballot box. In another, a group of soldiers sit in a circle in a tent, listening to a traditionally-dressed Afghan man (or, I should say, an actor dressed as one). What's the caption here? "How many weddings did we bomb today?" "You take the oil, we'll keep the heroin"? Or maybe just "Me smokem peace pipe."

As both Allan and I have written about before (here, here, and here, for example), there is already a huge amount of military propaganda inappropriately linked to sports events. The Boston Red Sox and the many other teams that contract with Access Sports Media - a list is here - now take the trend to new extremes.

I wrote this to the Boston Red Sox. If you are a sports fan who finds this advertising offensive, I hope you will speak up to your team's management, too.
I am a Red Sox fan who lives out of town. I am able to enjoy games at Fenway about every-other year, at best. I love Fenway Park, and thus, when I attended three games against the Texas Rangers last week, I was extremely disheartened to be subjected to continuous military recruitment advertisements.

Many young people, especially those from low-income families, believe what they see in the United States Army's ads and enlist, only to find the reality gravely different. Of course, who would ever sign up if the ads showed the truth? Amputations, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder; rampant alcoholism and domestic violence, skyrocketing suicide rates.

By partnering with Access Sports Media to show these deceptive ads at Fenway Park, the Red Sox are complicit in that deception.

The Red Sox Foundation promotes the "Run to Home Base," which raises money to "provide much needed services to local veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan . . . with combat stress disorders and/or traumatic brain injuries". At the same time, the Red Sox are helping to ensure that more healthy young men and women will eventually need those services.

The constant showing of military propaganda during a baseball game is inappropriate and offensive. I hope the Boston Red Sox will reconsider the decision to run Access Sports Media's US Army recruitment ads during games.