Red Sox Look To Bring It Home To Fenway

I’m not one to launch into poetic waxing and waning about the romanticism of baseball, and what it symbolizes to so many. This team has exceeded our wildest expectations no matter what happens over the next two nights. They’ve made fools out of so many who predicted another gloomy season at Fenway Park.

I keep hearing the WEEI promos about “The Road to Redemption,” but they’ve already redeemed themselves. They’ve reached the destination.

Tonight, they can win the World Series at home. If they don’t get it done tonight, they get to try again tomorrow night. A player who was so reviled over the last two seasons, to the point that he really was the poster boy for everything bad about the franchise can be the winning pitcher in the clinching game of the World Series.

Amazing.

Equally amazing to me is what I hear on the radio. In the times I’ve randomly tuned in, these have been the topics I’ve heard, across all shows and stations, from hosts and callers:

  • Is Jon Lester really an ace? Are the Red Sox going to overpay him and have him then become a fat stiff like Josh Beckett?
  • Jacoby Ellsbury is in his last days as a Red Sox player, but that’s OK because he doesn’t really seem to fit here.
  • Can they re-sign Mike Napoli? Or did the club’s hard-line stance in breaking their original three-year offer to him and instead signing him up for only one year embitter him towards management? Who is going to play first base next season???
  • John Farrell has no clue what he is doing! Why Breslow? His pinch-hitting makes no sense! He’s over his head!
  • Xander Bogaerts has hit a rookie wall. He’s not impressive at all. They need to get Middlebrooks back in there. He’s due for a DINGAH!!

The print stories – you can find them at RedSoxLinks.com – are considerably more upbeat. Except for Shaughnessy, of course, who can’t let a game six go by without a Bill Buckner revisit. Pro Tip – let the boys at Dan Shaughnessy Watch take care of him.

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The Celtics have their season opener tonight in Toronto. It’s quite different from every opening night we’ve seen since 2007, or even 1999 when Paul Pierce first showed up. Expectations are at a rock-bottom, with many openly rooting for them to lose as many games as possible. Because that worked out so well the last two times the Celtics tried for the first overall pick.

Three things to check out on the Celtics:

Baxter Holmes’ three part series on new coach Brad Stevens is worth the read:

THE MAKING OF A COACH | PART 1

THE MAKING OF A COACH | PART 2

THE MAKING OF A COACH | PART 3

Also, this feature on Danny Ainge from Paul Flannery in Boston Magazine is outstanding:

Back to the Drawing Board

Finally, from Grantland: Brooklyn and Boston: After the Trade

  • APNDaveR

    Today’s suggested HotSportzTake:

    “It all means nothing unless they can beat quality pitchers like Wacha.”

  • APNDaveR

    Also, just to pat myself on the back a little: I thought it was ridiculous that people (well, Pete Abe) were saying the “best case” for this Red Sox team was 90 wins back before the season began:

    http://www.bostonsportsmedia.com/2013/04/red-sox-look-to-start-afresh#comment-848624964

    Of course I didn’t expect the best-case scenario to arise… but I thought it was ludicrous to say that the “best” a team with this much demonstrated talent on it could do would be “borderline playoff contender”. Buchholz, Lester, and Lackey had all demonstrated 20-win potential in the past. Victorino averaged about 3-4 WAR, with spikes even higher, prior to his lost 2012 season. Drew was an above-average offensive SS in his healthy years with the D-backs. Napoli had .280/40/100 potential if healthy. If everyone played to the max, this team would be an offensive powerhouse with great starting pitching and a deep, talented bullpen.

    The amazing thing is that everything didn’t break perfectly for the team this year — half the bullpen was gone by June; Drew didn’t hit up to his potential until late in the year; Buch missed three months. And yet they still were a 97-win team. That’s pretty damn astonishing.

    • agramante

      Not that it’ll go over well with many here, but Felger might have been the only one–he’s the only one I know of–who predicted even low-90’s wins for the Sox, based on their talent. (Perhaps worth mentioning that he & Mazz were also right that Peavey, despite his excellent “it’s-on-me-I’m-accountable” mentality, he’s got third or fourth starter stuff at this point. And we’re all a little nervous at the prospect of him starting a potential game 7.) For my part, I was so disgusted with the Sox after last season that even though I paid attention, and was pleasantly surprised with their start to the season, I didn’t start becoming invested until around August. And even then I thought that the Tigers and possibly even Texas had more talent. I went from thinking that the playoffs were a marginal possibility to being totally along for the ride, so I’m not going to hold it against the commentators who did the same.

      That said, I have no patience for Shaughnessy’s trolling in print. It aggravates me that he always takes a much more moderate tone on the air–similar to Borges–but it’s just disappointing that a prominent columnist is so eager to bring up old, irrelevant, deliberately irritating story lines. (Fair to say that F&M live to irritate fans as well, but I think they pick far more relevant irritations.)

      • HighWireNickEsasky

        Yes, but Felger only makes predictions like that to be contrarian. He didn’t expect or want them to win 90+, in fact if they didn’t he could blame Ellsbury or Buchholz for being soft, or Lester for not being a true ace, or Ortiz for being old, or Farrell for being a shaky manager, and on and on.

        • agramante

          No, I don’t think he’s contrarian for the sake of being contrarian. Felger’s giving his genuine considered opinions on the air. He’s being honest, not faking it. It’s just that he spends most of his time on the opinions that he thinks will piss most of the people off.

        • HighWireNickEsasky

          Well, let’s review. He made a prediction (Sox winning 90+) that virtually no one else made. The team performed above all common expectations and was on a 90+ win pace all year. Even though his preseason prediction seemed prescient, Felger decided to tack in the opposite direction, and he and his crony Mazz picked the team apart and started predicting an imminent collapse that never came. That is the very definition of being “contrarian for the sake of being contrarian (which is redundant, but whatever).

        • agramante

          I disagree with your review. Mazz wasn’t really on board all year, even when numerically it was becoming pretty compelling that the Sox were on track to win the East. I remember their criticizing the Peavey trade–I doubt Felger likes it now, either–and Peavey turned out to be exactly what they said, a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher. Maybe his mindset helped make a difference in that staff down the stretch–I wouldn’t know and wouldn’t deny it–but Farrell hid him in the fourth slot during the Detroit series, and would have again this time if Buchholz were anything like himself. Now you might have me–I’ve been offshore for the last month and didn’t hear very much of them at all, so it’s possible F&M were predicting a collapse. But somehow I doubt it, when Felger spent most of August saying that anything less than the ALCS would be a disappointment.

  • Lou from accounting

    Do I have high expectations for the Celts? No. Then again, this was the same thoughts this Spring, yet here we are today, at Game 6. I want the Celtics to prove us all wrong.

  • latetodinner

    Bruce:

    Where is the Sopoaga trade talk analysis and stories. Baseball and Hoops dominate the daily links. As if the World Series and opening night of the NBA should over shadow the Pats making a huge (pun intended) in season move. Sometimes I just don’t get BSMW.

  • Snuffy Smith

    It’s great that ‘eei has found the “Road to Redemption” for the Red Sox. Maybe they can hop on the road now and find their own redemption for years and years for lousing radio programing filled with blowhards, buffoons, and boneheads.

  • GStill45

    The road to redemption might be the station itself. This Sox run might save a couple jobs over there.

  • http://bostonsportsmedia.com/ Bruce Allen

    Yes, I probably should’ve specified the actual lottery result – having the best odds for the top pick both times and not getting it. Danny certainly made the absolute best of what was a crushing result for many.

  • NE PatsFan

    I’ll tell you what’s driving me crazy about both the Sports Hub and EEI the last two days- all they seem to want to talk about is what the Sox are going to do with Lester, Ellsbury, Salty, etc. in the future. Talking about what Lester could get in freaking 2015 in free agency! Are you kidding me? Is that what we need to be discussing right now? The team is about to play Game 6 of the World Series, trying to win it, and we’re talking about 2014 and 2015 roster decisions? I kept switching between stations yesterday morning and I couldn’t get away from it. There was some of it this morning too. It’s just a bizarre thing to be thinking about and talking about righ tnow if you ask me.

  • agramante

    Two media-related takeaways from last night’s TV broadcast:
    1) McCarver had less and less to say after the Sox weathered the 7th-inning threat and approached victory. And that was a very good thing;
    2) I realize that TV networks (in this case Fox) pay big bucks for broadcast rights, so they get to write the rules. But I still hate how reporters’ postgame interviews are broadcast over the PA. The crowd goes dead to listen. It’s unnatural.

  • nutcracker

    The only unhappy person in Boston sports on this Thursday morning is Shameless Shank Shaughnessy – the fraud was proven wrong.