The kids are heading back to school which means Summer is winding down and the holiday weekend is coming up. At this point though, it’s just another three day weekend in The Nation. This weekend being no exception.
Now, suddenly there are a lot of comments going around such as “the Sox underestimated New York” or “the Yankees have the Sox number” and of course the ever popular “Choke Artists”, but as we all know you never underestimate the Bombers and the ‘Choke Artists formerly known as the Mets” reside in the other new stadium in NY.
The New York / Boston series is simply going to come down to performance… pretty much like every game against every other team during the season in every sport. It’s just two teams spanking each other all season long. We spanked them 8 straight, they spanked us.. and now we’re just passing the paddle. Yesterday, Cy Young candidate A.J. Burnette underperformed and was cut to ribbons while today it was Cy Young Candidate Josh Beckett (who other than the long ball was fairly effective). The hitters simply swapped performances as did the pitchers. End of story.
But you know… Cy Young pitchers have those days at all ages. Pitch 5 innings where your control is fairly unhittable collecting a few K’s and then BAM! give up a few homers to the NASA moon-shot program and your team loses. But hey, other times you debut with a new team pitching a half-dozen or so shutout innings collecting nine or so K’s. All in how far to the left or right your Cy Young hangs, huh? (I guess there is something to that ‘moving from the American to National League’ idea, right? Oh wait, Sabathia and Cliff Lee dispelled that. So maybe the ‘not giving a veteran pitcher time to adjust to his new recieving corps. and newly repaired probably diffrerent feeling shoulder while not exactly throwing the run support out there for him’ idea has some legs? )
Back to the subject matter at hand…. With summer winding down, September is upon us as is the wrath of the Wild Card and its demon seed known as the schedule makers. As we know, September is also known as AL East month and this year it will be a stomach acid churning affair. Sure, you mix in a few appearances by the ever pesky Pale-Hose and the Kansas City Royalty (who much like British royalty are apparently just for show) but then you have not only the f^@&in’ Rays and Yankees but the Angels swinging though to p!ss on the Sox parade which I’m sure Toronto and the slowly maturing Orioles are looking to spoil. The birds of a feather are calling up all their young talent come Sept. 1st and have absolutely nothing to lose and a lot of confidence to gain… lets just hope they kick NY & TB around in equal fashion. With 6 games versus the Rays and just 3 versus the Yankees, lets talk turkey…
Brad Penny has been temporarily placed in the ‘Pen. Yes, many will say he deserve
s to be there while others will say he should be designated and ejected from the cockpit just like Smoltz. Well, at this point, we need him. He’ll be filling a vital role this week as the back-stop to both Wakefield and if still available, Tazawa. With Wake making his first start since The Break he may exit early. If the forty plus year old shows his 11-3 form, then ‘Hoss will be available to jump in if Tazawa should not show the same ability he did in that great Yankees performance. After all, Junichi is a kid and may not rebound so quickly as we all saw in Buchholz last season. Will Penny stay in the Bullpen? No. If Beckett or Lester continue to show the signs of wearing down, you can bet an extra day of rest with a Penny spot start is already planned. His velocity was up in that NASA launch pad game the other night and against a team like KC or even the O’s his confidence could get a boost. But hey, everybody goes on waivers this time of year, right?
As we know, the Sox placed a claim on Billy Wagner the recently returned ‘super’ closer ejected by the Mets last week. What you may not know (nah! not in this media market) or may not have expected to happen depending on which source you read, is that Jonathan Papelbon is supposedly not happy with the idea. ESPN hints it may be some professional jealousy or insecurity while other report he simply doesn’t want the ‘Pen to change as he and his mates are secure in their set-up. Well, September is nearly here and the rosters expand so that’s a moot point…. So just what might the real problem be? It can’t be confidence. Not from the guy who said he could see himself exiting the ‘Pen in pinstripes in the House That Ruth Financed once Mariano Rivera retires. If he’s slipped and the Sox are looking to use him as trade-bait or if he has a long secure future in the ‘Williamsburg’ region of Fenway Park the fact is Wagner is an older reclaimation project who wouldn’t serve a long term solution to any closer role problems but just might be helpful as a spot lefty Holder/Set-Up down the stretch. We’ll see how this continues to unfold.
It’s very good to see Big Papi slowly and rather steadily coming around. Let’s hope it’s for more than a week or so this time. With Youk and Martinez holding their own among the league’s best right now, Bay beginning to really catch some fire, Ellsbury really looking comfortable again at the plate and Petey following his lead… this could be a the end of the funk we’ve all been waiting for and just in time. (And then I can say “I told you so” to the non-believers of The Nation)
Congrats to Bruntlett in Philly for turning that unassisted Triple Play (forgiving his very poor effort earlier in the same inning and ending the game a Pedro Martinez win), the first in a thousand years and only second in baseball recorded history but please tell Sportscenter to stop showing it every eleven seconds (who are now pitching it as a ‘first’ becuase the ancient occurance happened in the AL).
In regards to that Smoltz debut eluded to earlier… Pujols hit homer number 40 on the season (possibly en route to his first 50 HR season) but while he leads the NL in homers and is second in RBI’s he currently sits outside the top 5 in Average. The Triple Crown watch is still on until season’s end as Yaz’ last recorded crown holds its place in history. Oh yeah… Smoltz wearing #30? I’d rather have seen him go with #92 since Carpenter couldn’t part with it for the whole two months (Yes the Cards will see October) the future HOF’er is in St. Louis.
And no blog having to do with the Boston Red Sox would be at all complete without a huge ‘Welcome Back!’ to Jerry Remy. All-Star, President of Red Sox Nation, NESN’s anchor (well, in regards to the Sox anyhow) for two decades, Cancer survivor and all around Rem-Dawg.
That of course means a big ‘Thank You’ to ‘Eck, Frankie V., Dave Roberts, et al… who I’m sure we’ll still be seeing on road games.