As a Red Sox fan, it’s been a tough October. But tonight’s match-up featuring ol’ pal Pedro Martinez against the hated New York Yankees is easy to get excited about.
It certainly conjures up memories of glory days gone by. For Sox fans — in fact, for all “baseball” fans — the Pedro Martinez era in Boston was immensely exciting. Pedro provided us with arguably the greatest stretch of pitching in baseball history, and along the way left us with enduring memories — many against our most-hated rival, the New York Yankees. It’s impossible to forget him drubbing Roger Clemens in Game 3 of the 1999 ALCS. Or his 17-strikeout, 1-hit gem in New York; or his epic battle with Roger Clemens in 2000 that ended with Trot Nixon swatting a game-winning homer. Or the Zimmer game. Or his great performance in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS that unfortunately gets overshadowed by Grady Little’s all-time absentee-management moment.
Now that our 2009 Sox have been swept aside in the playoffs, Sox fans have worried we’d be stuck watching the Yankees waltz to a championship. Now, after Cliff Lee’s amazing performance in Game 1, we see our old hero — Pedro Martinez — stepping up in a spot where he can slay the Yankees once again. We know he isn’t the same pitcher he once was. But maybe . . . just maybe . . . he can recapture that magic for one more night.
I’ll certainly be watching to find out.
If the Philadelphia Phillies make it back to the World Series next year, Philly fans will look back at today as the reason why.
The Phillies made one of the best acquisitions of this offseason today by signing . . . no, not CC, not Tex, not Manny or AJ . . . but Raul Ibanez.
Raul Ibanez is the most underrated baseball player in the major leagues . . . by far. And he has been for a long time. Over the past six years, Ibanez has toiled in relative obscurity with the Mariners as Seattle has been mired in mediocrity. While he isn’t a flashy name, and most fans who don’t play fantasy baseball probably don’t know him, for the better part of this decade he has been one of the Top 25 most productive hitters in baseball. He’s been a model of consistency year-in and year-out. And he just signed a contract that pays him “just” $10 million a year for the next three years. His value should easily put him north of $12 mill annually.
While it is true he is no spring chicken (he’s 36), his production has yet to drop off, despite most experts and fantasy players waiting for it to happen. And even if it drops off a little, his numbers will still be worth every penny of his $10 million a year. Now he’ll be playing in a tiny, glorified wiffleball park in Philadelphia, with a lineup consisting of big bats like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. He’ll finally be playing on a contender next season. And don’t be surprised if you hear a lot about Raul Ibanez in 2009; and don’t be surprised if he helps keep K-Rod and the Mets home come October.
Have they played the World Series yet?
Congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies on winning an utterly forgettable World Series. I think the television ratings for the series was an average of 17 people, one of whom was my brother who goes from 6 to 12 everytime somebody, somewhere, mentions Chase Utley’s name. His fantasy-baseball-spawned man-crush on Utley is so disturbing, I’m thinking of reporting him to the authorities.
At least the Devil Rays didn’t win it all. And it is kind of fitting that they lost the series to the most insignificant franchise in sports history. That isn’t sour grapes talking; the history of the Phillies backs me up on this. There’s the obvious 10,000 losses and counting to point to. There’s also their contribution — or lack there of — to baseball. I remember walking the timeline in the Baseball Hall of Fame once, and suddenly, out of nowhere, there was a mention of the Phillies in the 1950s. I said, “Whoa, where’d they come from?” Turns out they’d been around since the start of the century. They just hadn’t done anything or had any player worth a mention til then. And they wouldn’t again until 1980. It’s one thing to go 80 years without a championship. It’s a whole other exercise in insignificance to go that long without even making a ripple in the baseball world. To be fair, though, the Phillies for the most part have at least been worth keeping an eye on for the bulk of the last three decades.
Of course, this all explains clearly why nobody watched this Series. Imagine the LA Clippers against the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA Finals, or the Houston Texans taking on the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. (Actually, insert any Atlanta franchise in discussions about fans not paying attention to a series.) Thankfully, this series only went five games. And it’s the only series I can ever remember not watching more than three innings of.
But now its on to the exciting Hot Stove season. I’m liking what I hear about the Sox chasing Texeira. In my previous post I said I hoped they would go after him, but wasn’t sure that they would. Obviously, Theo looks to see what my baseball genius mind has going on. I’m also liking that they are talking about going after Saltalmacchia for a catcher. They should do this regardless of whether they bring back Varitek or not, as they need to begin grooming his successor even if they have Tek for another two years. I can’t believe anyone will pay Tek the numbers Scott Boras is throwing out. But you never know. There’s a lot of stupid people in baseball with a lot of stupid money. (See: Angels sign Gary Matthews Jr. and see Yankees sign Jorge Posada to big money, mult-year deal . . . stuuuupid.)
First, let’s get that uncomfortable part out of the way . . .
Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. This is a deep team with a potent lineup — I mean, Upton, Pena, Longoria, Crawford? Ridiculous. They play great defense all around; not a Howie Kendrick in the bunch. And they have an excellent core of starting pitchers, with David Price set to arrive next year. This is a team built to compete for the next several years. (But expect them to take a step back next year, before coming back to seriously contend again in 2010. You heard it here first.)
It’s now on to the World Series, where hopefully the Phillies will crush Tampa Bay.
Sure, it’s disappointing the Red Sox didn’t make it back to the Series, especially against a solid franchise like Philly. But the fact is this Red Sox team WAS good enough to win the World Series. Unfortunately, they were banged up in October. It’s never good to lose a bat like Mike Lowell and have to replace him with a Mark Kotsay. It’s obvious to everyone both Papi and Beckett aren’t right. And Ellsbury is just slumping at the wrong time. That’s baseball. Good teams get banged up and slump. Teams like the ’06 Cardinals have .190 hitters suddenly hit .380 in October and have Jeff Weaver pitch like Sandy Koufax for a month. This baseball is a funny game.
Luckily, we have two recent world championships to comfort us. Remember the days when this loss would have led to a city of heartbreak and tears? And while it is sad to end the season like this — especially knowing this team could have won it all — we now have the luxary of just saying this just wasn’t our year . . . and we have the comfort of knowing we’ll be back in the mix next year.