Pitching Like Wade Miley

The Boston Red Sox just completed a three-game sweep of the hated New York Yankees, so all’s well in Red Sox Nation—at least for the moment. The team stands at 15-10 heading into a Midwest showdown with the Central Division-leading Chicago White Sox, the Sox’ pale hose brothers.

I’ve written about the team’s foibles in signing pitchers for extravagant sums of money, in the past. When Boston’s ownership does these kind of things, the results are usually less-than-stellar. Last year, it was Rick Porcello. This year’s big free agent acquisition, David Price, has looked a lot like Wade Miley, a left-handed retread that couldn’t get anyone out last April. Interestingly, if you compare Miley and Price in side-by-side statistical comparisons after six starts, Miley’s numbers are slightly better at this point in the season. Here’s a look at how they compare using ERA. Miley is actually at 84 and Price at 97. I’m guessing that when the Sox forked out the kind of money that most people won’t earn over a lifetime of working, they didn’t expect he’d be near the bottom of MLB’s pitchers in performance.

David Price leaving another less-than-stellar outing. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

David Price leaving another subpar outing. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

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April Baseball

Like most members of Red Sox Nation, I was disappointed that Monday’s season opener in Cleveland was postponed due to cold weather. Baseball and 30 degree weather don’t make for optimum conditions. Having grown up playing baseball in the cold and pitching in some brutal weather in Aprils past during high school and college, I concur with the decision, and hopefully, the boys can get at it this afternoon, in Cleveland.

Listening to afternoon sports talk, on-air personalities on WEEI, yesterday. Dale Arnold, Michael Holley, and Jerry Thornton, questioned the postponement of the game, indicating that Tuesday’s weather won’t be much better. Having Cleveland host a home opener in April is always fraught with cold weather possibilities, but their fans are entitled to see their baseball team host an occasional home opener. The Tuesday forecast at Progressive Field is calling for sun and 34 degree temperatures, sans yesterday’s wind along with rain and snow showers.

I don’t envy Cleveland’s hitters getting jammed by a David Price fastball. The Sox batters are also facing a tough pitcher in former AL Cy Young winner (in 2014), Corey Kluber. On paper, it appears that it might be a low-scoring affair. Hopefully the Sox packed their thermal undergarments and balaclavas.

Wearing the mask. (Getty images)

Wearing the mask. (Getty images)

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Panda Problem

We have a Panda sighting! I guess all is well in Red Sox Nation-—or maybe not.

Oh, and I guess that paying someone $95 million to play third base isn’t enough motivation for some players to show up for camp in shape. Because we all know that $95 million doesn’t go as far as it used to.

Sandoval, not quite svelte. (Matt Stone photo/Boston Herald)

Sandoval, not quite svelte. (Matt Stone photo/Boston Herald)

Just like last spring, when everyone had high expectations with the signing of Pablo “Panda” Sandoval, and then, he showed up grossly overweight, Sandoval again rolled into the Red Sox complex at least 50 pounds over what he ought to be playing at. So, instead of talking about free agent pitcher David Price, Sox fans are being treated by local media to pictures of a fat, out-of-shape player who doesn’t give a damn. Continue reading

In Tom We Trust

All anyone needs to know about today’s blog post can be summed up by the following statement and quote: “I love Tommy and you’re right, he’s a WINNER!” That’s from my sister, aka Aunt Tomato, from an email exchange we had about our weekends, when I mentioned the New England Patriots and Tom Brady’s Sunday performance.

I had mentioned to her that I spent Sunday afternoon painting some trim work around the windows of our house. Since it is now football season and I seem to be morphing into a football fan, I decided to tune in the Patriots Radio Network on my portable radio.

Actually, there are only a few reasons why I’ve chosen to follow football again this fall. The Patriots, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady. The latter one is probably the biggest one.

Throw, Tommy, throw! Brady completing pass vs. Buffalo Bills. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

Throw, Tommy, throw! Brady completing pass vs. Buffalo Bills. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

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Late Summer Baseball

If you are still following Boston’s baseball team, the Red Sox, you are well aware that the odds of a post season this year are slim to none. In a town that’s grown entitled to having their professional sports teams play meaningful games late into their respective seasons, losing becomes a hard pill to swallow. Nowhere is this more prevalent than with the members of Red Sox Nation.

Winning a World Series in 2004, again in 2007, and then the improbable championship run in 2013 has only heightened expectations among its fan base. However, when you look at the reality of baseball played in places like Cleveland, Arlington, and San Diego, the carping about Ben Cherington and Red Sox ownership on sports talk radio ought to cease. It won’t, but winning championships nearly every season isn’t the norm—except perhaps if you are a follower of one particular franchise whose players are adorned in black pin stripes—a club with 40 World Series appearances. Dare I utter “the New York Yankees” in these parts? Continue reading

Speed It Up

I’m watching the replay of this afternoon’s Red Sox home opener as I prepare to post tomorrow’s (Tuesday) blog post. NESN rebroadcasts each game shown on the New England-based television home of Boston’s professional baseball franchise. They call it, Sox in 2. The beauty of these reruns is that they get condensed into a two-hour time frame. I’m watching what was originally a 3:01 affair won by the Sox, 9-4.

There was a time when pro baseball games averaged slightly over two hours per contest. Now, even a pitcher’s duel is apt to approach the three hour mark. Back in the day, no one had to tell pitchers to “speed it up,” and there was no need for the baseball equivalent of a shot clock, either. Any pitcher worth his salt knew that the defensive players behind him benefited from his working quickly. In fact, the highly successful Atlanta Braves rotation, which included Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz, followed the adage of their pitching coach, Leo Mazzone, who preached a variation on the original “work fast, throw strikes, change speeds” preached by Ray Miller, when he was pitching coach for the Baltimore Orioles, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His Baltimore staffs were successful ones, and included another HOF-er, Jim Palmer, along with other successful pitchers Mike Flanagan, Dennis Martinez, and Steve Stone.

Clay Buchnolz has nice hair.

Clay Buchnolz has nice hair.

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Another Opening Day

This will be one of what will probably be a smattering of baseball-related posts over the coming months. Since today is Opening Day in all but two of the 30 Major League Baseball cities, I thought I’d get this up today, rather than my usual Tuesday posting day.

I recognize that spring and baseball are still synonymous for many. In New England, the Red Sox just might be able to push the Patriots from the epicenter of sports fans’ attention for a few months, although in these football-saturated times, it seems that pigskin prognostication or the draft, or Darrelle Reevis leaving town (or some other NFL-related story) is forever talked about on stations like WEEI and among the sports talking heads in The Hub.

Two teams (the Cards and Cubs) actually initiated the start of the 2015 baseball season on Sunday Night Baseball for television, but for all intents and purposes, I’m calling Monday the true Opening Day for the rest of the MLB. Thus begins another, too-long, 162-game schedule that will eventually lead to the crowning of a World Series champion—that won’t be ‘til mid-October, however, when if it is played in New England, with games starting after 8:30 at night, we’ll again see players in ski masks and huddled around dugout heaters, as the games get played in sub-40 degree temperatures yet again, just like April baseball. Continue reading

Whither Goest Baseball?

Baseball fans seeking autographs get creative.

Baseball fans seeking autographs get creative.

Sports have occupied a significant swath of my own personal history. Baseball is the one that has garnered the majority of that attention.

Baseball was the first sport that I played; it was the sport that my father handed down to me and in turn, I passed on to my own son. I was a talented player throughout high school and into college and continued to play some form of competitive baseball until the age of 39. I then coached and ran a local college-level summer league for five years. I even wrote a book about baseball and its history in Maine, post-WWII. Continue reading