Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Brock Holt: A Breath of Fresh Air for Red Sox

I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like watching the Red Sox this season is somewhat painful. They are definitely not that same bearded team we watched celebrate a World Series Championship last fall and frankly, it's just plain depressing. This group of guys can't seem to get out of their own way and it's hard to tell which team is going to show up day in and day out. They've got a whole Jekyll and Hyde thing going and it's not even remotely cute.

What Boston needs is a swift kick in the ass. I think that kick in the ass is called Brock Holt. Who? Honestly, I don't recall ever hearing his name before he was called up to the Red Sox earlier this season. In the 38 games with the Red Sox, Holt has 51 hits, 12 of those doubles, and a .329 batting average. Not bad for a 26-year-old who began his season in Triple-A Pawtucket.

Not only has he been producing at the plate, he's been a real trooper defensively. He has filled in at third base, first base, and most recently, the outfield. While he's not the greatest glove on the field, he's persistent and not afraid to throw his body around. And Jonny Gomes should be thankful for Holt's style of play because it totally bailed his ass out the other night.

Check out the best catch I've seen in a very long time...

Almost makes you want to hop back on that Red Sox train again, doesn't it? Maybe this acrobatic and somewhat impossible catch, coupled with the recent release of Grady Sizemore, are just the ingredients this team is looking for to help turn this season around. I have hope. It might be just a glimmer, but it's there.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rest in Peace, Tony Gwynn... Mr. Padre.

Photo from HERE
Baseball lost a special person today. The greatest San Diego Padre to ever wear that hideous uniform, Anthony Keith "Tony" Gwynn, Sr., lost his battle with cancer at the young age of 54. Folks who knew him said he was also a pretty awesome guy which is nice to hear, especially with some of the douchebags in the game these days.

Having grown up a Red Sox fan, I never really got a chance to follow guys in the National League. But I knew he was special during the 1999 All-Star game at Fenway Park when he helped Ted Williams throw out the first pitch... making sure the old guy didn't fall over.

The Hall of Fame outfielder was a magician with the bat. In his 20 seasons, all with the Padres, he amassed some rather ridiculous numbers.

  • 3,141 hits (good for #18 all time)
  • 15 time All-Star
  • 7 Silver Slugger Awards
  • 5 Gold Gloves
  • 8 National League batting titles
  • 7 time National League hits leader
  • .338 lifetime batting average (good for #16 all time)

Gwynn also hit .394 in the strike shortened 1994 season which was the highest season average since the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. had a couple of other pretty cool stats too:

  • Over his 20-year career, Gwynn's .338 lifetime batting average was the highest of any player whose career started after World War II—no one with 5,000 or more plate appearances has even gotten close. 
  • No hitter born after 1900 reached 3,000 hits in fewer games (2,284) or at-bats (8.874) than #19. 
  • No 3,000-hit man who was born after 1900 had a higher lifetime batting average than Gwynn.
  • No hitter who has played his entire career since the invention of the designated hitter has accumulated as many hits as Gwynn (3,141) without spending a large portion of his career in the American League. (I love this stat.)

For the last four years, Gwynn has been battling salivary gland cancer, most likely from using smokeless tobacco. He underwent multiple surgeries, but the cancer forced him to take a leave of absence from his head coaching job at San Diego State, his alma mater, where he had coached for 12 season.

Tony Gwynn never wanted your sympathy... so instead of feeling sad, let's celebrate the life and achievements of an amazing ballplayer and person. Rest in peace, Mr. Padre.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Oh Red Sox... Where has the Magic Gone?

I think it's safe to say that for a Red Sox fan, the 2013 season was just plain magical. It was a season where things just fell perfectly together — like you just knew at some point late last summer that this team was destined to win it all. Every game was fun. Every game was an adventure. And every game felt winnable.

Maybe it was that fateful event that occurred on April 15th that sparked this group of men to give their all for every inning of every game for the rest of that season. They did have that Boston Strong rally cry to live up to, after all. What kind of team would they have been if they couldn't boost the spirits of this city with win after dramatic win? They really had no choice but to excel. They were a team fueled by hometown spirit and pride.

It was just magical. I know that sounds corny, but for me, it's true. And I'm going to venture a guess that I'm not the only sappy fan out there that feels that way.

Was it the facial hair that carried that winning mojo? Or was it a particular player? Maybe it was David Ortiz's heartfelt speech on April 20th that sparked something that can never again be had. I have no idea what special force caused this ragtag group of guys to succeed when no one gave them a chance, but I do know this... that magic has left the effing building, my friends.

In April of 2013, the Red Sox were third in Major League Baseball in batting with a .271 team average. They had hit 26 home runs collectively, had an on-base percentage of .347 and slugged .446. In April of this season, their team batting average was .246 — good for 19th overall. Well that sucks. Orioles' left fielder, Nelson Cruz, has more home runs this season (21) than the Red Sox hit as a team in May (20). Seriously?

So needless to say, I'm annoyed. Sure there have been multiple injuries to key players like Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks. And the starting rotation has had some hiccups... like Clay Buchholz who went 5-0 with a 1.19 ERA last April... and this year, he was 1-2 with a 6.66 ERA. I'm not even going to tell you what the difference is year-to-year between opponents batting average because it will make you want to throw up.

What I do know about this team is that Stephen Drew is NOT the answer. He wasn't the answer in the off-season at $14 million a year, and he's sure as hell not the answer for $10 million after sitting out the first two months of the season. He hit a whopping .111 in the entire 2013 postseason, and is batting a big fat ZERO since he's returned to the lineup. (Ok, so it's only been a couple games but I don't care!)

Something needs to happen and it needs to happen tout de suite. If you don't know, that's French for RIGHT THE EFF NOW! This season is slowly slipping to the point of no return. SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!!