Monday, September 22, 2014

Sox Have Second Longest Avg. Game Length

(Forbes.com Graph)
When the two Red Sox representatives on MLB's "Pace" Committee show up for the first meeting, they may get a few evil eyes. After all, the Red Sox are ranked #2 in all of baseball on average length of their games. Boston clocked in with a ridiculous average of three hours, nine minutes and forty-four seconds. This is second only to their AL East colleagues in Tampa (3:12:40). Some of the suggested fixes for this are: a pitch clock; limiting the number of mound visits by non-coaches; and forcing batters to stay in the box and eschew their endless VELCRO ® adjustments. Hopefully, they'll impose some of the new rules in time for the 2105 season.

Sox Have 2 Reps On MLB's 'Pace Of Play' Cmte.

Outgoing MLB Commissioner Bud Selig appointed a new committee to produce recommendations that will improve the pace of the game. The Red Sox will have two people on the committee: team Chairman Tom Werner and general partner Michael Gordon. As you might recall, Werner made "pace" the centerpiece of his failed campaign to become Commissioner. Said Selig of the committee, "With the cooperation of all appropriate parties, we can make progress on improving the pace of play, and we will have recommendations in the very near future for the 2015 season. I believe that this group has the experience and the perspective to be mindful of our game's traditions while being creative about our approach in the future." Perhaps the most surprising part of this story is that Selig has already convened a conference call with committee members. Honestly, did you think Bud could work the phone buttons?

FenwayNation Offers Fenway Park WEBCAM

The Editors of FenwayNation are pleased to offer readers a live view of Fenway Park through a link provided by the site, webcams.travel. The Fenway Park WEBCAM can be accessed by clicking on the link on our right-side navigation bar. Now you can get right in on the action—whether you're just a few miles away from Fenway Park or logging on from some distant land. Enjoy!

Memo To NOG: Cut 2015 Ticket Prices By 20%

There's one thing the NOG (New Ownership Group) can do to really demonstrate their "care and concern" for Red Sox fans: cut 2015 ticket prices by 20%. As it is, Boston fans pay the highest ticket prices in all of baseball (average ticket: $52.32; total Fan Cost Index: $350.78). And for what? A team that might pass the 69-win threshold set by Bobby Valentine's 2012 legions? Great! The owners got a big-time 'mulligan' for 2013—and fans have been amazingly positive in this humiliating year. We need payback—real, tangible payback. The state's feeble economic 'recovery' has left most fans still struggling to make ends meet—if they have a job at all. So, multi-billionaire John Henry should be able to find it in his "progressive" heart to give the average fan a break. It's bad enough that they've saddled us with a century-old, obstruction-filled, cramped ballpark—now they've given us players who hit like their 100 years old. Give us a 20% reduction—that's a measly $10.46 cents on the average ticket. Just enough to buy an over-priced Fenway Frank.

Red Sox Play 'Kelly's Heroes', Beat Orioles, 3-2

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Joe Kelly is making a bid to be a key part of the 2105 rotation. Yesterday, the wisecracking righty went seven solid innings, giving up just two earned runs on three hits. 'Kelly's Heroes' were Mookie Betts (who led off the game with a solo blast, and collected another hit to raise his average to .285); Yoenis Cespedes (who had two hits and an RBI), and David Ross (who clouted his seventh HR of the year). The Valentine Magic Number is now set at just 2 with 6 to play.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cecchini And Brentz Start Today For Red Sox

The Red Sox will send out four rookies today in their final match-up of the year against the AL East Champion Orioles. Boston will send out the following line-up today—Mookie Betts 2B, Xander Bogaerts SS, Daniel Nava 1B, Yoenis Cespedes LF, Will Middlebrooks 3B, Rusney Castillo CF, Garin Cecchini DH, David Ross C, and Bryce Brentz RF. Joe Kelly takes to the hill for The Carmine Hose.

Sox Wear 'Rubby' Slip-Ups, Fall To O's, 7-2

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Pretty soon, the "Rubby" will have to meet the road. Multiple poor starting performances by Rubby De La Rosa raises the the question of whether the young right-hander is better suited to the bullpen. He clearly has the stuff, but he might not have the endurance to be a starter. Again last night, De La Rosa went just four innings—giving up four earned runs (including two two-run HRs) in a 7-2 loss. And this was against a line-up that was resting some Oriole regulars. David Ortiz belted another HR (his 35th), but everyone else in the Boston lineup was pretty much silent. The Valentine Magic Number stays at three with just seven to play.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Oritz Hits #464 And #465; Sox Top Orioles, 5-3

 (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
David Ortiz homered twice—including the game-winner in the 10th-inning—pacing the Red Sox to a 5-3 victory over the first-place Orioles. Big Papi moved into a tie with Dave Winfield for 33rd on the all-time HR list. These games mean nothing to The Carmine Hose, but Ortiz last night chipped in with his eighth 30 HR/ 100 RBI season with Boston—a new team record. He passed some guy named Ted Williams. Only Jim Rice has more 100 RBI seasons for the Red Sox. Elsewhere, Mookie Betts had two more hits (including one on a great 11-pitch at-bat), and Yoenis Cespedes picked up his 22nd HR of the year. Allen Webster pitched well again—going 5.2 innings and giving up just one earned run. Valentine Magic #: 3

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rusney Castillo Hitting Seventh In First AL Start

The Red Sox are in 'Charm City' to take on the AL East Champion Orioles tonight in the start of a three game set. Boston will send out the following line-up: Mookie Betts, 2B; Xander Bogaerts, SS; David Ortiz, DH; Yoenis Cespedes, LF; Daniel Nava, RF; Allen Craig, 1B; Rusney Castillo, CF; Garin Cecchini, 3B; and Christian Vazquez, C. Allen Webster will head to mound for The Carmine Hose.

Giancarlo Stanton Updates Press On Recovery

Giancarlo Stanton met with the media yesterday to update them on his recovery from a brutal beaning he suffered a week prior. Just from a visual point of view, the "before and after" pictures he posted on Instagram are enough to both horrify and inspire. Stanton said he suffered facial fractures that will take 6-8 weeks to heal. Also, five of his teeth were damaged—with one knocked out completely. He also sustained an "orbital fracture" around his eye—but his vision was never impaired. Ominously, when asked about a return, he stated, "I’ve wondered about that. I think I’m in a great mental state for what has gone on. But to be able to be back into the box, and in competition, I’m not quite sure. I think when we decide the protection that will be on, I’ll have more reassurance wearing that." Wow.

Anthony Rizzo Wins 2014 Branch Rickey Award

Former Red Sox farmhand Anthony Rizzo is the winner of the 2014 Branch Rickey Award for his work with pediatric cancer patients. After being drafted by the Red Sox at age 17, Rizzo was diagnosed with with Hodgkin's lymphoma in his first minor league season. After a long period of treatment, the cancer went into remission. Rizzo was initially traded to San Diego in the Adrian Gonzalez deal and was later re-united with former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein on the North Side of Chicago. Since his illness, Rizzo has consistently visited pediatric cancer patients at both Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago and Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Congratulations, Anthony!

Is Jon Lester Enough To Save Slumping A's?

Don't look now, but baseball may be witnessing yet another epic September collapse. The Oakland A's lost again last night (with Sonny Gray giving up four runs in the first inning), and are now in danger of dropping completely out of the post-season picture. This, despite the fact that former Red Sox ace Jon Lester has been lights out since joining The Green and Gold. The big lefty is 5-3 with The Children Of Charley Finley, posting a 2.30 ERA. In 62.2 innings, he's struck out 57. Two nights ago, the A's watched their bullpen implode in a six-run ninth. They've actually been swept by the lowly Rangers at home. Since August 28th, Oakland is 5-15—since August 10th, they are 11-25. Before trading Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox, the A's were averaging 5.00 runs a game—since the trade, it's 3.47. So, Lester and the other quality pitchers on the staff may not be enough to keep the A's from choking big time.

Team Of Negative Destiny Loses Again; Fall, 3-2

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Some wise sage once said, "In every baseball game, you see something you've never seen before." It happened again last night as the Red Sox were on the verge of a ninth-inning comeback in their eventual 3-2 loss to the Pirates. With none out and men on first and third, a Will Middlebrooks grounder hit the runner at third in fair territory. That's an out, by the way. We've never seen that exact play ever before. Amazing. Of course, former Red Sox pitcher Mark Melancon got out of the jam. That's all you really need to know about this loss. Except that The Valentine Magic Number is still stuck at 4 with just nine games left.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

FN POLL: A's Surge Ahead As Top Playoff Team

The Oakland A's have moved ahead of the Orioles and Royals as the AL team most readers will pull for in the playoffs. As the chart shows, 26% now pick the "Bay Area Red Sox" as their team of choice, followed by the Orioles at 22%, the Royals at 19%, the Angels at 15%, the Mariners at 7%, unidentified National League teams at 7% and the Tigers at 4%. Somewhat surprisingly, no voters chose Terry Francona's Indians. You can still vote in the poll HERE.

FN POLL: Orioles And Royals Are Fan Faves

Very early voting in our latest FenwayNation Poll indicates that our readers will primarily be pulling for the Baltimore Orioles in the playoffs—followed closely by the Kansas City Royals. As the chart shows, fully one-third of voters support the Birds (33%), and almost as many (27%) will be rooting for the Royals. Next in line are the Angels and A's (13% each), followed by the Seattle Mariners at 7%. You can still vote in the poll HERE.

FN POLL: Which AL Team Will You Root For?

Favorite AL Team In 2014 Playoffs

Which ONE of the following AL teams will you root for?

  Current Results

Are The Baltimore Orioles Really That Good?

The American League East representatives from 'The Charm City' have run away with the division—currently setting the pace with 92 wins and a 14.5 game lead on The Bronx Embalmers. They've already clinched their first division title in 17 years. But are they good enough to run the table and capture the franchise's fourth World Series Championship? Let's take a look. First of all, they won't have the services of three of their best players—Matt Wieters, Manny Machado and Chris Davis (suspended until at least the second round). Then again, they've done pretty darn well without the first two for a long time. Manager Buck Showalter has deftly shuffled his line-up to accommodate the "hot hands"—even benching veterans. He's also made some pretty bold decisions—like banishing highly-paid malcontent Ubaldo Jimenez to the bullpen in August. Showalter has mastered the delicate balance between old-school and new-school managing—and it shows on the field. This group of Birds leads the majors in HRs and is near the top in team defense. To get far into October, they will need two guys to consistently deliver—Adam Jones and Nick Markakis (in addition to the consistent Nelson Cruz). And the amazing Steve Pearce looks like he'll just keep on hitting. Their so-called "no-name rotation" will need youngsters Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman to hold up under the pressure of the big city lights. If they get to the ninth with a lead (after being set-up by Andrew Miller and Tommy Hunter), Zach Britton is about as effective as any closer in the game. So, yeah, these O's have a definite chance to hoist another banner over Eutaw Street. Secretly, we're rooting for them.

Red Sox Scarily Close To Not Passing Bobby V.

With 22 games left, the Red Sox only needed 9 wins to eclipse Bobby Valentine's magical 69 win plateau from 2012. Now there are only 10 games left—and they still need four more wins to hit 70. Can they do it? For the cipher-challenged out there, four wins out of ten translates to a .400 winning percentage. To this point in the season, the team is winning at a .434 clip, so, theoretically, they should do it, right? Not so fast, pine-tar breath! Here are the remaining games: one more against the Pirates (who are fighting tooth-and-nail for a playoff berth), three at Camden Yards against the juggernaut O's (who might be in coast mode), three at Fenway against the almost-equally pathetic Rays, and the final three at home against The Evil Ones (during the canonization ceremonies for Derek Jeter). So, can they scoop at least four from this list? Tonight looks like a loss in Pittsburgh, but they should take at least one from Baltimore. Then, just three more wins out of six from the Rays and Yankees should be do-able. But, frankly, as bad as this team is, passing Valentine should not be this close.

Re-Signing Koji Uehara Is A Red Sox Priority

Koji: Worth Re-Upping For 2015
The Red Sox have let it be known that they view the re-signing of soon-to-be free agent closer Koji Uehara as an "offseason priority". As we have written, we think this a good thing—although the team needs to do some medium-range planning for future ninth-innings post-Koji. Said GM Ben Cherington, "The way that he handled the recent period where he struggled a little bit and how he handled getting out of it reflects well on him positively. We haven’t had any other conversations and there will be an appropriate time for that this offseason. But our interest is still there." Since being pulled from the closer's role, Uehara has posted a few good outings, so the major six-game funk he went through earlier might be in the rear-view mirror. He's still worth the gamble in 2015.

Red Sox Walk The Plank In Pittsburgh; Lose, 9-1

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
The term "Garbage Time" was invented for games like these. In fact, September should be re-named "Garbage Month" for your Carmine Hose. Last night, Clay Buchholz reverted to his bad earlier form—getting pummeled by the Pirates, 9-1. The tall Texan went just four miserable innings—giving up six hits and four earned runs. Steven Wright looked more like the comedian than the knuckle-baller—giving up another four runs in just one inning of work. The once again pathetic offense mustered just five hits (including Rusney Castillo's first MLB safety)—leaving the bases loaded in the first inning. The Valentine Magic Number is still stuck at 4—with only 10 games left to play. Can they do it?