Tag Archive | Red Sox

Red Wilson Field Review

So far so good on the Cape Series. Every Park has been excellent to this point. Does that continue into the next review? Let’s take a look. This is Red Wilson Field, home of the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. Just a quick note about this place, I had never been to Red Wilson before I worked for the Whitecaps in 2015, so I have no childhood bias in favor or against this park. Let’s get started.

Location: 8/10

The Yarmouth-Dennis (YD) Red Sox are a unique set up. They represent two decently sized towns on Cape. Their field is at the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, on Station Avenue in South Yarmouth. Here’s the major problem with YD, the school requires visitors to drive there specifically. It’s not close enough to walk to Patriot Square in Dennis, Dennis’s town center, Yarmouth’s main shopping area, or even South Yarmouth’s closest walking or business areas. You have to make a specific trip to the field and it’s inconvenient to try and see the rest of the town and area. It feels disconnected as a result of trying to represent too large an area. 

The school’s neighborhood is at least a lovely residential area. It is convenient for the locals or those renting a summer pad in the area. There’s also plenty of parking that allows for large crowds for their games. One pro tip though, don’t park too close to the field. The lot gets close to the field, so you put yourself in the firing line of potential foul balls. Just park a bit further away to avoid foul balls. 

Ultimately, its an ok location. It’s at the region’s high school, services the locals well, and has enough space to welcome large crowds. It just doesn’t have a good location if you want a more centralized experience. It’s not Chatham, Orleans or Hyannis. It works at what it’s trying to do at least. So I can’t knock it too much for being different from other fields I like. 

Seating: 7.5/10

YD gets many seating things right, but a few issues show up and knock points down. First point of order: variety. This park definitely has it. There’s extensive bleachers behind home plate and up and down the baselines just beyond the dugout. You can also bring a lawn chair and sit be on the outfield fence or just be on the bleachers on the baselines, or you can sit at the picnic tables next to the bleachers. I’d say there’s just this much of a ride here as there is in Brewster. So that’s good. The other good thing: the sightlines. Every section (except for one that I will harp on in a minute) has a good view of the field and there are many different angles you can see the game from well. But… There are some serious problems with this set up.

First. the bleachers are a little small this isn’t much of an issue since there are plenty of them but I can’t help a point this out after I spent so long on it in Harwich. Size isn’t the biggest issue regarding the YD set up though. The lack of netting is. The bleachers just beyond the dugout have an excellent view of the field. There’s no obstruction there’s no new nets, and there’s no protection from foul balls. Since the bleachers are close to the field of play, that’s a bit of a problem. On one of my trips to bed Wilson this season, a foul ball hit a young girl in the knee in the bleacher section I was sitting in. And I would not be surprised if that wasn’t the first time. Especially since the team plays late afternoon games, the sun is often in the faces of the fans on the 1st baseline. That can make it even harder to see screaming foul balls coming their way. Ultimately, I don’t think there’s much that can be done, but it is still a bit concerning. 

My other area of concern is how useless the picnic table so are. They are set up right behind the first base side stands. Here’s a picture of a kid sitting at a picnic table with the game going on do you think these kids can see the game and enjoy the picnic table? Yeah there’s my concerns are. The idea is having them at all is good, but the location of these tables makes them kind of useless for attempting to watch the game.

YD seating is ultimately pretty good. But the lack of netting on the bleachers and useless picnic tables take some major points off.

Food: 9/10

The food stand is on the first base side of the field. You buy everything from there, the staff is nice, and they’re very quick getting good to you. Most of the menu is standard, except for the donut hamburger. You did not misread that. Some bright spark in YD decided that a good choice for a hamburger bun would be a donut. Plain or jelly filled. God bless America for providing a glorious heart attack at a ballgame. It tastes very good at least. Only point off is for the food stand not being centrally located. It’s a longer walk from 3rd to get there. Otherwise, this place is pretty good. 

Aesthetics: 10/10

This field is absolutely gorgeous. The score board is nice and new, the trees in center is a nice touch, and there’s a lot of open space and green grass behind the fences in the stands. That allows for beautiful sun sets for in the middle of most games. Since the Red Sox start their games at 5 o’clock for much of the season, without any lights at the field, The team has to depend on some lights to get all of their games in. The fortunate thing is on a sunny day, Red Wilson field is one of the prettiest ballparks you could hope to say. No complaints about the park here.

General Atmosphere: 8.5/10

Red Wilson is a pretty ballpark. It’s a fun time going to and sitting at the park in the golden hour of the day and watching a good baseball game. The organization does a good job of picking music, entertaining the crowd, and providing a good baseball time. The only complaint is that YD’s fans can be obnoxious. I’ve seen road players be heckled badly by the fans, to the point that the host parent has to go tell the hecklers to ease up and stop being a jerk. They listened, but that is still something of a concern. They are just a vocal minority, so I can’t knock too many points off for that. 

Total Score: 43/50

Allow me to admit some bias here, the YD Red Sox are my least favorite team in the league. I can look past that and acknowledge their field’s quality. Red Wilson Field is flawed. It’s a little out of the way for visitors and some of the seating can expose you to hard foul balls. But I would be a moron if I said it was a bad baseball experience. Far from it. This is a field you should go see and enjoy. It’s a pretty ballpark with good food, great sightlines, and access to some of the best baseball you’ll ever see. Chatham, Orleans, and Brewster are better parks in my eyes, but YD is absolutely a park you should go see and enjoy. 

Baseball Beginning Again

We’ve hit that most wonderful time of the year. Spring training has gotten underway and baseball season has begun! Yes, it is still early March, meaning that opening day is still a month away, but I am still happy to say that baseball is back! Even if there is snow on the ground. 

This year will be a bit different for me as a baseball fan, not for anything at the MLB level, but for a new fandom I’ve developed since working for the Whitecaps: college baseball. Of course the Red Sox are the top priority for my fandom. They are my favorite sports organization and I have high hopes for them this year. Last season was a phenomenal ride that ended with a painful loss to Cleveland. For 2017, there is plenty to be excited about. Dustin Pedroia patrols second and the defense, Pablo Sandoval has lost weight and looks more motivated to be a part of the team, and Mookie Bette is coming off a near MVP caliber season. And I haven’t mentioned the pitching yet, what with Porcello, Price, Rodriguez, and new acquisition Chris Sale forming a top level rotation. It will be weird watching the Red Sox without Koji in the back end of the bullpen, and I don’t know what to say about David Ortiz not being in the lineup. I’ve never known the Red Sox without Big Papi. He’s been at the heart of the Red Sox and Boston since 2003, and he is now retired. I will do anything I can to get into Fenway on June 23, when 34 will be retired. I’m still stunned that Ortiz is no longer playing, but I still have high hopes for my guys on Yawkey Way. 

And in case that wasn’t enough, I’ve got two other teams I’m following this year. Both are college teams with professional prospects. One is a DI team, one’s a DIII team. And I’m just a fan of one and I’m working for the other. 

My fan team first. This summer, I hosted two players from the University of North Carolina. They are both high quality guys who will be drafted this year into professional baseball. They made my summer on Cape Cod nothing short of amazing and I have my college baseball team for life. My alma mater doesn’t have a varsity baseball team, so I’m forced to look elsewhere. And why not look at Chapel Hill for good baseball? 

I’ve been rewarded so far. The Tar Heels are 10-3 so far, only running into trouble against St. John’s and Long Beach State. My guys have also had excellent starts to their seasons. Both have played in and started all 13 games this season. Zach is off to a .317 start, and has the second highest on base percentage on the team. He’s hit well, fielded well, and is upping his draft stock early this year, especially after a remarkably quick recovery from TOS surgery this off season. While Zach has been excellent this year, his roomie and running mate, Logan, is tearing it up. He’s batting .367, has an OPS of 1.021, and is leading the Tar Heels in hits, total bases, and steals. He’s proving himself as a top draft prospect and they’re looking to lead UNC to the College World Series after a bitterly disappointing end to last year’s college campaign. Fan me is excited to have another team to follow, and for that team to have personal connections. I’ll see these guys in early April when they play at Chestnut Hill against the Boston College Eagles. 

As excited as I am for UNC, I am equally excited for a DIII team that I’m calling games for this year. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology isn’t known for its athletics, but don’t be fooled. There are skilled athletes at MIT. Perhaps one of the best stories in baseball right now is being authored there. 

I called MIT baseball games last year, and had a front row seat to Austin Filiere lighting up his conference. He’s a career .427 hitter and can play the field very well. He also got to play in the Cape League this past summer against my Carolina guys. When the Harwich Mariners showed up, I checked the roster and saw Austin Filiere from MIT on there. I was dumbfounded. A DIII player facing off against the best that college baseball has to offer? He had better be good. Needless to say, he was. Filiere finished tied for the 2nd most homers in the league and totaled the most RBI for the team with the best record in the league. He was voted to the All-League team and proved to be a legitimate draft prosepect. 

This year has already started for the Engineers. They split a pair of games against Texas Lutheran. Unfortunately, Filiere did not look that good. He’s only hitting .167 through two games. I have no doubt that Filiere will right his direction. The Engineers were supposed to play at UMass Boston on the 5th and they’re supposed to play a double header against Southern Maine to open the season at home on Saturday the 11th. Considering that snow will be on the ground, they won’t be able to play until the 17th, when they take the road to Oglethorpe, Georgia. I trust that the Engineers will entertain and that their star player will get drafted this year. 

The snow is still falling, but baseball season is upon us! I am so excited to get into the swing of it, especially with two more college teams to follow. 

2016: What a Year

I started this year reflecting on the trying yet rewarding events of 2015 while enjoying champagne with my family in West Hartford. Tonight, I will do almost exactly the same thing. Except I am in Quechee, VT, and I will reflect on the zany events of 2016. I’ll spend time reflecting on the crazy events of the world at large, like Trump, Brexit, the refugee crisis, the shocking terrorist attacks, and all the reactions to them. More than that, I’ll remember how much happened for me.

It was a chaotic year for many, including me. I started with the promise of my final semester of college. I had my best selection of classes and the excitement to get it done. January turned into February, and I worked through my classes, broadcasts, and beat reporting for WTBU. Lent came with the spiritual gifts I needed, and at Easter, I was getting ready to end my college career. 

Late April and early May came with many trips to Fenway Park, and many sweet Red Sox victories. I also hit the hardest stretch of final papers and exams I ever had in college. A few overnights, enough cups of tea to keep me awake for hours, paper writing, and game broadcasts kept me from sleeping.  But I got through it, and after four long years, my collegiate career came to an end. 

I’ve had some time to reflect on my time at BU, and my ultimate perspective on it is generally positive. I had many difficulties and made it harder than it needed to be. I probably made the wrong choice of schools for academic purposes. But for all the rest that college has to offer, I made the best possible decision. I met many of the closest friend I will ever have, learned more about God and faith than I thought there was to learn, discovered what love is and how good it is to love and be loved by someone, and found my passions and interests. When I got to 2016, I learned so much from prior years, and I made my last semester of college my best. 

After graduating and celebrating a hard earned bachelors, I went home for a few days, then went to Cape Cod. I found a job at a coffee and bagel shop within walking distance of my house called JoMamma’s and returned to interning with the Brewster Whitecaps. We hosted players this year too, and what a treat they were. The summer was completely different than early on in the year. I didn’t have school hanging Over me, and I was doing things I loved full time. I loved the JoMamma’s people. They were comedic, introspective, entertaining, and loaded up with cool stories. They introduced me to new movies, music genres, and lines of thought. And I loved the Whitecaps even more. Having Zach and Logan around was like having two more physically fit brothers around. We played so many games on Zach’s PS4, talked baseball, food, girls, movies, hopes, dreams, and were just guys for a summer. It was awesome. And then I got pulled into doing a musical through a JoMamma’s coworker. And I got to dabble in one of my loves by complete accident. 

I didn’t figure out a full time job, so I decided to go into the freelance broadcasting world and return to class. This time at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting’s campus in Needham, MA. At that point, life got interesting. 

I had gigs with Tufts, MIT, the Boston Pride of the NWHL, JWHL events, and writing for InsideHockey. I had class in the morning, but my classes were spent in studios and drafting rooms. It was so wildly different from what I knew school to be. And work was tiring, but kept me entertained. 

I never had a gig I didn’t find good in, and never had a class I hated. And while I was tired, and felt more on my own than I had in many months, I had nothing but good things to discuss and think of. 

I have come so far. Graduating, writing, broadcasting, driving all over New England, flying to Green Bay, meeting and saying so long to amazing friends, testing myself in the classroom at BU and CSB, and finding God’s hand in all of it. I feel like I’ve lived a decade in the space of 366 days. I cannot say enough good things about the path I’ve been on this year. 

It’s been trying. I’ve shed many tears and had sleepless nights along the way. I said goodbye to many meaningful people and there are pieces of my life that were very good and are no longer there. I also watched my childhood end. I’m no longer in the standard educational world, which is a bit unnerving. It’s all I’ve known since 1999, and the working world is different than what I’ve known so far. I’m enjoying it, but it’s still different. Symbolically, when David Ortiz walked off the field at Fenway for the last time, my childhood was done. 

But after the madness, I have many more positives than negatives. I had too much fun to be mad, and made too many memories to be angry. 

If there’s one way I would describe my year, its with a phrase coined by my friend Tomás when we played basketball one day. He described his game as “consistently inconsistent”. That phrase sums up my year extraordinarily well. I didn’t know what exactly was coming next. One day I was writing a paper. Next day I was pondering the universe and the nature of love with a friend. Then I was driving to New York to call a basketball game. Or maybe traffic on route 6 going to Bourne for a game was up next. I rarely knew what was up next for me. I just knew I would be entertained. 

Thank you to everyone who made 2016 unforgettable. Let’s make 2017 even better! 

Hard at work


Summer with the Whitecaps

Graduation Day!

Yeah that’s me and Mookie Betts.

Me with Brockstar! (Brock Holt)

Senior Week with the guys.

Me and my roomie.

Prequel characters (and Artoo) at Fenway

Storm troopers at Fenway

Me and my bro at Fenway

The CC Grad Group goes Apple Picking

The Joker

The Grease Cast

Back on the stage.

The JoMamma’s crew

BUCC graduating class of 2016

Me and the Ballplayers.

BUCC Broomball. I was the goaltender!

On skit team for my last retreat of Undergrad

Retreat small group for my last undergrad retreat

Ash Wednesday

Division Series Previews and Predictions

After two outstanding Wild Card games over the last few days, the Baseball Postseason is ready to get started tonight! We have eight teams starting the division series in both the American and National League over the next two days, and this is when the best baseball is played. Let’s take a look at each series and see what I think will happen! And for the record, I’m not going to predict more than just the Division Series. We’ll start with the American League. 

Toronto Blue Jays vs Texas Rangers- Rangers in 5

This is the series I look at with the most excitement. After last year’s matchup between these two teams, capped by this Jose Bautista homer and bat flip, and the bad blood spilling over into a regular season match early this year, I am excited for this matchup! There is bad blood, animosity, and something that baseball has missed for a long time: menace. There’s a sense of competition that the sport desperately needs in the postseason, and I am excited for that. There also are talented baseball players on both teams, so we should get good play in addition to the competition. Both teams have strong lineups, good to well above average starting rotations, and shakey bullpens so I see that as a close matchup.

The Blue Jays lineup can make minced meat out of the best pitching in baseball. Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Troy Tulowitski are all able to hit homers off any pitcher in any ballpark, let alone band boxes in Texas and Toronto that will lead to more offense. Their defense is also capable, with the fifth best fielding percentage in the AL. Russell Martin is an underrated defensive catcher, and their starting rotation is talented, if a bit unproven. They have the AL’s ERA leader in Aaron Sanchez, who is coming off a masterful performance in Fenway Park against the best offense in baseball, in which he held the Red Sox to one run over seven innings. Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, and JA Happ are also talented pitchers who will hold their own. Toronto’s weakness comes in the form of their bullpen. They have only a 4.40 ERA and despite holding the Orioles offense to only 2 runs in the wild card game, there is no clear closer or obvious stopper in the Jays bullpen. Roberto Osuna is questionable for game 1, and that will mess with the bullpen big time. 

Texas can match the Canadian offense. Adrian Beltre continues to make a Hall of Fame case for himself after a .300, 30 homer, 104 RBI season at 37 years old. Elvis Andrus hit .302, Rougned Odor provides some punch (no pun intended), and Ian Desmond is a capable all around hitter. After Prince Fielder retired, the Rangers picked up Carlos Beltran, a playoff tested future Hall of Famer to bolster the offense, and he has done just that. Unfortunately, the defense is only pedestrian, with the 9th best defense in the American League. Their starting rotation on paper is also only pedestrian without the names of the pitchers being considered. Cole Hammels and Yu Darvish are talented pitchers with huge name recognition, but age, attrition, and injury have slowed them down. Hammels has the lowest ERA on the team at 3.32, and Darvish is just getting back to full strength after Tommy John surgery, pitching in only 17 games this season. But these guys, along with Colby Lewis and Derek Holland, are skilled players with postseason experience that will show up against Toronto. The reason I’m picking Texas in this series is the bullpen. The teams are even in all positions except the closer. Osuna isn’t ready to play this series right now, while Sam Dyson (2.43 ERA, 38 saves) is ready to go for Texas. I think the Rangers have a slightly better bullpen and will scrape by the Blue Jays in 5. 

Boston Red Sox vs Cleveland Indians- Red Sox in 4

As a Red Sox fan, after the last week of the season, I am quite nervous for this series. I don’t have a ton of faith in the Red Sox bullpen and I don’t want to face Terry Francona’s team giving up home field advantage. That all being said, I’ll put my fandom and fears aside and try to be objective about this series. 

Boston comes in with the best offense in baseball. Mookie Bette, Dustin Pedroia, and David Ortiz all have cases to be MVP this season, while Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Hanley Ramirez all provide stronger bats than most can offer. Cleveland is no slouch offensively, but they lack the diversity of weapons that Boston has. Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez are the two .300 hitters on the team, and Mike Napoli has given a spark of power, but the Indian’s offense is ultimately a far cry from what Boston can bring. 

Boston also carries a talented pitching staff. Rick Porcello is a viable Cy Young candidate, and David Price picked up his play later in the year. Clay Buccholz and Eduardo Rodriguez are wild cards but if they come up strong, they can put Boston over the top. The rotation is shortened after the absurdly stupid decision to have All Star Steven Wright run the bases in Los Angeles on August 5th which resulted in his shoulder injury. He could return to the team for the ALCS, but he can’t help the team against Cleveland. The Indians carry a pitching stud in Corey Kluber, but he is injured and so is the rest of the starting rotation. Kluber is starting game 2 after a late season quad injury, and game 1 starter Trevor Bauer isn’t a pitching ace. Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco are also injured, and will not play in the series. Cleveland’s starting rotation is not in good shape. The bullpens are more comparable, but the injured Indians starting rotation will be their downfall. Kluber will win his start in Cleveland, but Boston’s offensive depth will take on the rotation and win the series in four games. 

Now onto the National League. 

Chicago Cubs vs San Francisco Giants, Cubs in 5

By leaps and bounds, this is the hardest series for me to predict. On one hand, the Chicago Cubs are the most talented team in baseball, have the NL MVP in Kris Bryant, one of the best pitchers in Jake Arrieta, a bevy of young talent, championship veteran guile in players like Jon Lester, John Lackey, and David Ross. On the other hand, it’s the Cubs. This is the most cursed team in baseball facing the team that turns into a golden team in even year Octobers, the San Francisco Giants. More so than the stigma of “It’s the Cubs”, these teams match up extremely well. 

Chicago clearly has the better lineup from top to bottom, but the Giants still have weapons in Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, and Brandon Crawford. They don’t have the power of the Cubs, but they can make the Cubs rotation work and throw a ton of pitches. The real matchup is in the starting rotations. Madison Bumbgarner, the best postseason pitcher throwing right now, won’t start until game 3, but Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija are capable pitchers and can make life difficult for Chicago. The Cubs will have to face a difficult rotation, and Chicago’s bullpen will have to hold up better than the Mets’ bullpen did last night. With Aroldis Chapman in the closers spot, they can shut down the Giants in the 9th. If the Cubs are to win, the Cubs MUST win both games 1 and 2 in Chicago and the bullpen must be better than the Giants. 

I see this series as a toss up. The Giants have a winning culture and attitude that the Cubs have not proven to have and they have the pieces to take down the Cubs. The Cubs have talent and the burden of expectation from baseball fans and the longest suffering fan base in all of sports. If the Cubs are to win a championship, they must win games 1 and 2 at home. 

Washington Nationals vs Los Angeles Dodgers- Nationals in 4

This series is simultaneously interesting and boring for me. These teams are talented and Fun to watch in the regular season. However, they are horribly disappointing in the postseason. The Dodgers were supposed to beat the Cardinals in the 2013 NLCS and 2014 NLDS, the Mets in the 2015 NLDS behind the performance of Clayton Keyshawn, Justin Turner, Yasiel Paige, and others, but lost every single series, never reaching their postseason potential. The Nationals are just as disappointing, with a lost championship in 2014 and missing the playoffs last year. I expect both teams to eventually fold, if not in this series then later in the month. But I will still watch and see which of these “Next Year’s Champions” will continue to tease their fans. 

Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Turner, and Corey Seager lead a potent lineup against the Nationals and Howie Kendrick, Josh Reddick, and Yasiel Puig look to improve on disappointing regular seasons and help the team get a boost. For DC, Daniel Murphy takes his .347 average into the postseason with the intent of another trip to the Fall Classic. Wilson Ramos also hit .300 and is the other well performing hitter for DC. Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, two long standing DC hitters, had very disappointing seasons and look to step up in October. Harper’s season was especially disappointing. The reigning NL MVP went from hitting .330 to only .243 this season and he struggled to get into any kind of rhythm this season. If anything, the fact that Washington won 95 games this season with Harper performing so poorly is reason for more confidence. Imagine how well they’d play if Harper picked up his average.

These starting rotations are both top heavy. Clayton Keyshawn and Max Scherzer are the undisputed aces, but the rotations beyond those two are a little short. Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strausburg both have talent but have been inconsistent this year in the nation’s capitol. Kenta Madea and Scott Kazmir have some good innings in them, but they are secondary to Kershaw and not quite ace level. The Dodgers have a decided advantage in their bullpen. Washington released their closer, Jonathan Paplebon, before the signing deadline in the middle of the season, and have given Shawn Kelly the closing job. He and the rest of the Nationals Bullpen has plenty to prove. LA has a bona fide closer in Kelley Jansen, sporting a 1.83 ERA and 47 Saves. The rest of the bullpen is more dependable as welll. However, because of slightly better pitching, and the potential for Bryce Harper to break loose, I’m picking Washington to win the series. 

So there are my predictions. Onto the playoffs! 

 

Big Papi: The Most Important Red Sox Player Ever

In late 1996, the Seattle Mariners sent David Arias to Minnesota as the player to be named later in a transaction for Dave Hollins. When he arrived with the Twins, he told them that he preferred to be called David Ortiz, not David Arias. While playing in New Britain, Connecticut with the Rock Cats, Ortiz had marginal success but also suffered plenty of injuries. His years ended in 1998 and 2001 with wrist injuries. When he was called up to Minnesota, he had an on going knee problem. Even his best season in Minnesota, 2002, was marred by consistent knee ailments. He hit 20 home runs and drove in 75 runs in 2002, not a bad year, but not enough for Minnesota to keep him. After failing to trade him, the Twins released him. Ortiz was out of a job and desperately wanted another chance to prove himself, and got help from a fellow Dominican. 

Pedro Martinez was coming off another masterful year with the Red Sox and always was supportive of his countrymen. He put in a good word with the new management of the Red Sox, and in January 2003, Ortiz was picked up for a song. He was behind first baseman Kevin Millar and DH Jeremy Giambi on the depth chart and did not play much. He rarely pinch hit and was a forgotten member of the 2003 roster early that year. When Giambi struggled, manager Grady Little benched him and started Ortiz. The Red Sox have not looked back since. 

With the Red Sox slated to start their postseason run in Cleveland on Thursday, David Ortiz is ready for his last month of service to the organization that gave him a chance to perform. In his 14 seasons since arriving, he has given Boston more clutch baseball moments than any other player, become the face of the franchise, changed the culture of the team. He has become the most important player in the history of the Red Sox. Yes, more important than Ted Williams, Carl Yasztremski, Jim Rice, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, all of them. Not the best, but the most important. 

Ted Williams is the greatest hitter in the history of the Red Sox and possibly all of baseball. Ortiz does not surpass Williams as a total hitter despite having more home runs. Williams has a career average of .344, the highest career on base percentage ever at .482, and would’ve had 600 homers easily had he not lost much of his prime to service in World War II and the Korean War. Carl Yastzremski is the best two way player in Red Sox history and his 1967 campaign is the best individual performance put on at Fenway Park. He cleared 3,000 hits, and singlehandedly lifted the Sox into the 1967 World Series with both his triple crown effort at the plate and his seven Gold Glove awards. As a designated hitter, Ortiz doesn’t have a chance to make a defensive impact, thus losing a dimension to his game. He did play 1st base for some games, namely in inter-league games and the World Series. But Yaz has him in terms of total impact on the game. 

So why is Ortiz the most important player in Sox history? Because he changed the Red Sox organization from the American League’s Charlie Brown franchise into winners. Williams, for all his greatness, hit .200 with no extra base hits in his only trip to the Fall Classic in 1946. He never got another chance because of the failures of his organization, but he could not lift his team to a championship level. Yaz was similar. He performed better in the Fall Classic than Williams did, hitting .400 in 1967 and .310 in 1975, but he could not get his team over the hump and win a championship. Nor could Jim Rice, Wade Boggs, Jimmie Foxx, Bobby Doerr, Dwight Evans, or any other player in the organization from 1919 on.

By the time 2004 rolled around, the Red Sox were expected to be talented and face the Yankees in the postseason and lose in some painful way. That seemed to be certain after the soul crushing loss in game 7 of the 2003 ALCS and all but confirmed with the Yankees up 3 games to none in the 2004 ALCS with a lead in the 9th and Mariano Rivera on the hill. Then Boston tied the game in the 9th. Then Ortiz hit a homer in the 12th inning to win the game. He had driven in four of the six runs the Red Sox scored that night. He then drove in three of the five runs in game 5, including an 8th inning opposite field homer in the 8th and a walk off single in the 14th. The Sox then won games 6 and 7 in Yankee Stadium, punctuated by another Ortiz homer. Big Papi was voted the MVP of the series, and Boston celebrated Ortiz as the face of the greatest comeback in the history of baseball, maybe the greatest series ever played in the history of the sport. The Sox went on to sweep St. Louis in the World Series and break the Curse of the Bambino. 

The 2004 World Series is the most important and celebrated trophy in Boston’s long and storied history. David Ortiz was the biggest offensive reason for the Red Sox’s triumph. And after that epic performance, Ortiz kept his performance up. He set a new record for homers in a season with 54 in 2006, finished his regular season career 17 all time in home runs, ahead of players like Ted Williams, Ernie Banks, Frank Thomas, Mickey Mantle, and Mel Ott, and lifted his team to the post season eight times in his career. The Sox won the World Series in 2007, with Ortiz in the middle of the lineup and performing well, and in 2013, with Ortiz taking the role as vocal and visual leader of the franchise after his famous “This is our F-$&:!# City” speech and a legendary performance in the World Series. He hit .688 in the series with an OPS (On Base percentage plus Slugging percentage) of 1.948. He has turned the expectations of the Red Sox fans from wondering what version of Shakesperean tragedy they’ll watch that night to how many rings they’ll be able to put on their fingers. He’s not the greatest player in the history of the franchise, but he has transformed the Red Sox from a losing organization into a winning one. 

I believe a similar point can be made for the Celtics. In terms of talent and all around output, Larry Bird is the best player in the history of the Celtics. He had the shooting touch, could rebound, pass, run the break, and did all of this with an assassins mindset and appearing to be un-athletic and not capable to the untrained eye. However, in terms of importance to the culture of the franchise, Bill Russell is unquestionably the most important Celtic ever. He was the defensive hub of 11 championships, a feat that has never and will never be matched. Larry was easily a better scorer and offensive player than Russell, and was no slouch defensively. Bird was, in total, the better basketball player, but Russell set the culture of the Celtics as a championship organization. Similarly, Williams and Yaz are the best players in the history of the Sox. However, Ortiz has defined the culture of the Red Sox as a championship contender since his arrival in 2003 and his legendary performance in 2004. 

Now Ortiz is in his final run. I have watched him for my whole life and was at Fenway on Sunday for the final game of the regular season. The pregame ceremony was a joyous celebration of all that Ortiz had brought to the city and the organization. He is the embodiment of the Red Sox run of recent success. And he will be the focal point of the Red Sox lineup this postseason. I’ll be watching as the postseason begins in Cleveland on Thursday at 4! 

Division Champs! Why Does it Feel Empty?

After two consecutive last place finishes in 2014 and 2015, the Boston Red Sox rose up to have the best offense in Major League Baseball. It’s been fun watching this team hit so well and excite the city of Boston. Last night, they clinched the American League Eastern Division Championship for the first time since 2013. They have sowed up a playoff spot and avoid the Wild Card randomness and cap a great regular season. They celebrated in Yankee Stadium after securing the division. 

So why was I not celebrating? Well, winning the division last night felt empty for a few reasons. Namely, we lost. Last night’s game in Yankee Stadium was eminently winnable, with an outstanding start from Clay Buccholz, and an offensive surge in the 8th that should have been enough for the bullpen to hold. It wasn’t though. Craig Kimbrel, the closer for the Red Sox and a representative at the All-Star game this year, was absolutely awful in the 9th. He walked three guys, gave up 1 hit, got no outs, and when Joe Kelly got tagged by Mark Texeira with a grand slam, surrendered four runs to lose the game for the Sox. The Red Sox had a game that they could have easily won against their arch rivals and they blew it. Regardless of winning the division, I don’t feel good about what I saw from my team last night. 

Should I be happy that the Red Sox are in the postseason? Yes. Am I happy that I will get to watch Ortiz in the postseason one more time? Yes. Does that make up for blowing an eminently winnable game against the Yankees while there is still plenty to play for this week? Not only no, but hell no. The bullpen did not instill any confidence in me, and losing to the Yankees, especially in walk off fashion, is always gut wrenching. And what’s left to play for? Home field advantage throughout the playoffs. 

Right now, the Red Sox are the second seed in the playoffs. They would have home field for the Division Series and the World Series sown up if they make it that far. Here’s my concern: the American League Championship Series. Boston is best at home this season and they’d be in the best position to win the championship if they had home field advantage in that series. Here’s the problem: Texas has the best record in the A.L. and I don’t like the matchup against Texas. They’re 3-3 against them this season and didn’t look good in Arlington when they traveled there earlier this season. Every loss makes the chance for best record less likely and that worries me, especially with the bullpen’s importance to every team and the Sox bullpen coming up smaller than mini me frequently this season. They are 20-22 in one run games in the postseason, where close and low scoring games are more frequent, that stat is alarming. 

Am I worrying too much? Probably. Do I have cause for concern after last night? Yes. Do I desperately want David Ortiz to go out with a championship? Without question. Have I enjoyed this season? Yes! It has been so much more fun than the last two years and I love being a Red Sox fan right now. But am I happy after clinching the division? No. There is still plenty of baseball left to play and too much up in the air to celebrate after a night like that. This isn’t the Red Sox of the past, when just winning enough to get into the postseason was acceptable. Winning championships is the ultimate goal, and the Red Sox have a long way to go before they can win the championship. 

Summer Adventures

So I’ve not written on here in a while. There’s a good reason for that, I’ve had very little free time and not a ton of energy! It’s been a real adventure this summer, and I feel it’s time I take a moment to recount how the ride has been so far. For context, this is what I said when the summer began about what I could expect and look for from the Cape, at least generally. 

First off, my two jobs have been a wonderful time. I work in the kitchen of Cape Cod Sea Camps, a summer camp right along the beach of Cape Cod Bay. There’s a resident camp, where kids live in cabins for weeks of the summer, and a resident camp, where more local kids spend their mornings and afternoons doing cool and fun things like sailing, play sports, and other usual camp things. I may work at a summer camp, but this is a kitchen job. I’m up early every work day; usually 5 AM to be ready for a 6 AM shift. I set up meals, serve hungry kids and counselors, clean up the kitchen after the meal, help any small projects that need work, set up the line for the next meal, serve it, and clean that meal up. It’s real work, but really quite satisfying. I serve kids, do what I can to get them smiling, and I feel satisfied at the end of my shift that I’ve accomplished something. 

But to be honest, the real reason I’m here is for my other job. I am the Journalist intern for the Brewster Whitecaps Baseball Team. I write the game stories, interview the players and coaching staff, manage the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages of the team, and help manage the website.  Needless to say, I have absolutely LOVED this job to this point. It’s made better by the privilege to cover some excellent players, being on Cape Cod, and working with some other wonderful interns. It is my dream to do something like this for a profession, so it’s a great way to get some experience as a writer and an interviewer. I’ll still need to get better, but I have learned quite a bit since I started doing this sort of thing in November. 

I’ve had a good amount of down time too. I’ve had enough time to hang out at the pool, go out in a kayak or a paddle board, and just take a breather from what is a tiring schedule. It’s been difficult to have to fill some of my free time with the Red Sox this season, given how bad it has been. It is made up for in a big way by Pedro Martinez, one of my favorite athletes of all time, being inducted into the Hall of Fame and getting his uniform number retired. I managed to get tickets to his number retirement game! Needless to say I am crazy excited about this and I will enjoy a unique night at Fenway. It’ll add a nice memory to the expanding list of memories I’ve already experienced there. I do have an extra ticket, so I have to find someone who would like to use it. 

All in all, I’d say this has been an excellent summer. Worth all my time and energy, and plenty of fun along the way. There’s a week left in the regular season of the Cape League, and then the playoffs! And 3 weeks total left of camp. I’ll make sure to enjoy the rest of my time down here on the Cape!