Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pineda Suspended Ten Games For GoopGate II

UPDATE: Pineda Will Not Appeal
Major League Baseball handed down a stiff penalty to New York Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda after he blatantly used a "foreign substance" (pine tar) to doctor the baseball. Pineda was suspended for ten games (effectively two starts) for violating Rule 8.02(a)(2) through (5). Pineda was called out by Red Sox Manager John Farrell after an obvious blotch of pine tar appeared on the pitcher's neck in the second inning of last night's game. Said Pineda, "In the first inning I no feel the ball, and you know, I don’t want to like hit anybody so I decide to use it. I feel so apologize for my team and everybody, so, I learn from this mistake. It no happen again."

Dice-K Could Become The Mets' Next Closer

(Photo: Jim McIsaac)
Don't look now, but former Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka could soon become the Koji Uehara of Flushing. That's right, Metropolitans manager Terry Collins is so pleased with Dice-K's transition to the bullpen that he's considering installing him as the team's closer. Since being recalled from AAA, Dice-K has posted a stellar 2.08 ERA for The Amazins. Imagine—someday soon, we could witness a ninth inning that lasts 2 hours and 33 minutes. With a pitch count of 49. We can't wait!

The Munson-Nixon Line Now Excludes Hartford

The newest rendering of The Munson-Nixon Line (the carefully surveyed demarcation between Red Sox and Yankee allegiances in New England) shows that Hartford (sometimes regarded as the DMZ of the conflict) is clearly now in the camp of The Evil Ones. As the battle chart shows, the Connecticut capital is well within enemy lines. Having known many fans of The Pinstriped Posers in the Greater Hartford area, this comes as no real surprise. It also appears that a substantial portion of Vermont has also succumbed to the dark side. Come to think of it, did you ever hear the Bronx twang on Bernie Sanders?

Daniel Bard's Throwing Again In Rangers Minors

One year ago today, the Red Sox made their last desperate attempt to salvage Daniel Bard. They promoted the formerly flame-throwing righty from AAA to the majors to see if he had figured things out. He had not. In the off-season, Bard was shipped to the Texas Rangers. Then, on January 2, 2014 he had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery on his right shoulder. The latest is that he's throwing bullpen sessions in Arizona—but is not yet ready for game action. From where we sit, the Boston organization completely mishandled Bard's case—shifting him from the 'pen to a starting role and back for no rational reason. Hopefully, he will regain his potential elsewhere.

Cashman: Empire 'Embarrassed' By GoopGate II

New York Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman—who was sitting in the stands at Fenway Park last night—said his entire organization was embarrassed by Michael Pineda's blatant use of a foreign substance to doctor the baseball. Said Cashman, "I think we’re all embarrassed. We as a group are embarrassed that this has taken place. I think Michael’s embarrassed. I think we’re embarrassed that somehow he took the field with that in the position like that. It’s just obviously a bad situation, and it clearly forced the opponents’ hand to do something that I’m sure they didn’t want to do, but they had no choice but to do. Obviously, we’ll deal with the ramifications of that now." Cashman went on to discuss the issue of responsibility, "We certainly are responsible, and there’s certainly failure on our part as an organization as a whole that he took the field in the second inning with that on his neck. He’s responsible for his actions, but we failed as an organization for somehow him being in that position. I don’t know how, none of us right now, we’re scratching our head right now, how that took place."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lackey Dominates GoopGate II; Sox Win, 5-1

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
If you're the Yankees, you have to hope that Michael Pineda is just a naive kid. If not, he's one of the dumbest players in MLB history. After getting exposed for blatant pine tar use on his hands in his last start against the Red Sox, Pineda decided to tempt fate and slather the junk on his neck this time. John Farrell did not play Mr. Nice Guy a second time—asking the home plate umpire to check for goopage. A few moments later, Pineda was history—ejected for using a foreign substance. Unfortunately this buffoonery overshadowed a brilliant effort by John Lackey—who went eight innings giving up just one earned run while striking out 11 in the 5-1 Boston win. The offense was keyed by Mike Napoli's three hits and a tone-setting triple to lead off the game by Grady Sizemore. Dustin Pedroia was 2 for 5 with an RBI as well. Lackey became only the fourth Red Sox pitcher in 100 years to strike out at least ten Yankees while walking none. The other three? Only Pedro Martinez, Luis Tiant and Jim Lonborg.

Jeter Pulls Ahead Of Gehrig As Least-Hated NYY

Derek Jeter has pulled out to a solid lead on runner-up Lou Gehrig as the "least-hated" Yankee in our reader poll. As the chart shows, Jeter now draws almost one-third of the vote (32%), followed by Gehrig at 26%. Yogi Berra and Mariano Rivera tie for third at 15% each, while Babe Ruth garners 12% of the total vote. You can still vote in this poll HERE.

Red Sox May Delay Victorino, Bring Up Pitcher

Webster (Getty Images)
UPDATE: Wilson up, Nava Down
Having endured back-to-back putrid starting pitching performances (Clay Buchholz, Jon Letser), the Red Sox are a little thin in the bullpen. Because of that, they may delay today's expected activation of Shane Victorinio in favor of short-term promotion of a pitcher from AAA Pawtucket. The likely candidates for advancement to The Show are: Allen Webster or Alex Wilson. When Victorino does get activated from the DL, it looks more and more likely that Daniel Nava (who has two minor league options left) will be sent down.

POLL: Three-Way Tie For Least-Hated Yankee

Very early voting in our latest FenwayNation Poll indicates that readers hold three Yankee players to be equally 'less detestable'. As the table shows, equal shares (24% each) named Derek Jeter, Yogi Berra and Mariano Rivera as "least hate-able". Not far behind is Lou Gehrig at 18%, with 12% naming original Red Sox player Babe Ruth. You can still vote in the poll HERE.

Marathon Champion To Throw Out First Pitch

(PHOTO: USA TODAY Sports)
Meb Keflezighi, the first American to win the Boston Marathon in 31 years, will throw out the first pitch tonight at Fenway Park. The nearly-40-year-old Keflezighi outpaced a field of much younger and more highly-touted elite runners to capture the 118th  running of the marathon on Monday. Keflezighi was born in Eritrea and moved with his family to San Diego when he was 10 years old.  He crossed the finish line on Boylston Street with a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes, 37 seconds.

FN POLL: Least Detestable Yankee Of All-Time

Least-Hated Yankee

Which of the following Yankees do you hate the LEAST?

  Current Results

Weather May Affect Start Of Sox-Empire Game

In case you place any faith in the prognostications of the 'meteorological priesthood', the rain is supposed to clear out of the Boston area around 8 PM tonight. Of course, these are the same people whose forecasts resulted in us routinely shoveling 14 inches of "partly cloudy" off our driveways this past winter. In any event, the pelting rain around the area right now (11 AM) does not look like it's going to dissipate any time soon. As the radar image shows, there's even more rain to come behind the current batch. So, if you go to Fenway, be prepared to be gouged for lots of beer and hot dogs during the likely long rain delay. Fair—or actually, partly cloudy—warning.

Not-So-Right Stuff: What's Happened To Clay?

(Associated Press Photo)
WEEI.com's Alex Speier takes on the pressing issue of "What the heck is wrong with Clay Buchholz?" and suggests that it's lack of confidence in his arm strength that explains the righty's crappy start to 2014 (0-2, 7.71 ERA). Says Buchholz, "It all starts with arm strength. Arm strength creates movement on the pitches that I throw. A couple of them are flat right now. Sinker's getting some sink, but not on every pitch. It's a little different from the start I had last year, because everything was working pretty well last year for me at the beginning of the season. It just comes from arm strength and then confidence. It's hard to go out there and be confident whenever you're getting hit around. That’s sort of where I'm at right now." So, because of his recovery from last year's injuries, he needed time "not to throw" in the off-season—resulting in the current lack of arm strength. This all seems a little too touchy-feely for us. Buchholz may have the best stuff of Boston's starters—along with the equally baffling Felix Doubront—and he has to be ready from the get-go with his full arsenal (including arm strength).

Big Papi's Mammoth 482-Foot HR Off Tanaka

Empire Of Blights: Red Sox Pummelled, 9-3

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
As correctly predicted by our FenwayNation Poll, there were far more boos than cheers when renegade Jacoby Ellsbury stepped to the plate for the first time in pinstriped laundry. Three pitches later, he rifled a ball off the center field wall for a triple. So much for the effectiveness of booing. Ellsbury and fellow Bronx newcomer Masahiro Tanaka combined to completely outclass your Carmine Hose in an ugly contest at Fenway Park last night. The stands were littered with fans of The Pinstriped Posers, and they had a lot to cheer about. Jon Lester was horrific at the worst possible time—laying meatballs over the plate to even the most anemic Yankee hitters. Only back-to-back solo shots by David Ortiz (a laser just over the NESN.com sign in dead center) and Mike Napoli broke the spell in the 9-3 loss.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Red Sox Lineup For Tonight's Game VS. NYY

The Red Sox kick-off a three-game set with The Evil Ones—which could propel them into first place with a sweep (assuming other teams cooperate). Boston will send out the following line-up against "rookie" starter Masahiro Tanaka: Grady Sizemore RF, Dustin Pedroia 2B, David Ortiz DH, Mike Napoli 1B, Jonny Gomes LF, A.J. Pierzynski C, Xander Bogaerts SS, Brock Holt 3B, Jackie Bradley Jr. CF. Jon Lester will take to the hill for Boston at Fenway Park.

POLL: Plurality Still Call For 'Rebuke' Of Jacoby

While the level is down from our initial reading (-13 points), the plurality of voters in our poll (40%) still call for "strong boos" tonight upon Jacoby Ellsbury's return to Fenway. As the table shows, the second most common response is "indifference" to the "prodigal son-of-a-gun" (21%), followed by equal shares who want either "mild" (16%) or "strong" (16%) cheering. Just 7% want "mild" booing. Thus, the updated total negative-to-total positive sentiment ratio is 47:32. You can vote HERE.

Poll: Most Think Ellsbury Deserves Strong Boos

In very early voting in our latest FenwayNation Poll, a majority of readers (53%) think Jacoby Ellsbury should be greeted with "strong boos" tonight when he makes his return to Fenway. As the table shows, the next highest percentage of votes calls for "mild cheers" (24%), followed by equal shares wanting "strong cheers" or "indifference" (12%). Thus, the total "negative-to-positive ratio" stands at 53:36. You can still vote in the poll HERE.