Monday, April 21, 2014

#BostonStrong

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When the Red Sox won the World Series last year, it felt like a catharsis for a city (and region) after the horrible events that marred the 2013 Boston Marathon. When we look back on the 2013 World Champions, with their rallying cry of "Boston Strong," they will be inexorably tied to the tragic events of April 15th.

Any Red Sox fan would gladly trade that victory back to have Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Lu Lingzi, and Sean Collier back with us... but as that wasn't an option, having an entire team, city, and country rallying together was incredibly moving to behold.

With this year's race underway, the city of Boston is once again showing its strength and resilience. We've seen thousands of tributes to the city over the last week, but none of them can come close to meaning what the simple running of this race means.

The Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon in the world, and the most prestigious. People from all over the globe come to measure themselves against history, Heartbreak Hill, and one another. They run for many different motivations, but this year is different - for runners, spectators, and displaced Bostonians the world over.

As Boston Globe writer Chad Finn put it last April, "Boston isn't a city, it's a family." Today, that family will run, cheer, and finally cry tears of joy rather than loss.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Enough about the pine tar

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I don't want to hear anything else about the pine tar that was (almost definitely) on Michael Pineda's hand last night. John Farrell wasn't concerned enough to alert the umpires, the umpires didn't see anything worth investigating, and that's good enough for me.

Pine tar didn't give up four runs to the Yankees last night. Pine tar didn't stop the Red Sox from hitting once Pineda had left the game. Could the pine tar have helped Pineda's grip, and thus his location? Probably. Is using a foreign substance against the rules? Yes. But let's not pretend Pineda is the only guy who does it.

Our very own Clay Buchholz withstood a media firestorm of his own last year when he dominated with some alleged help from Bullfrog sunscreen. Most managers are loathe to alert the umpires when an opposing pitcher is using some sort of topical assistance, because they know it's likely their guys are doing something similar - and as a former pitching coach, John Farrell has to know the hands of his staff are probably sticky, too.

Pineda's use of pine tar seemed to be particularly blatant - NESN analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Dennis Eckersley called it "outrageous." But everyone seems to agree that the substance on Pineda's throwing hand was gone after the fourth inning - and he didn't start falling apart until the seventh, when he was coming up on 100 pitches.

So maybe the pine tar (or whatever it was) helped Pineda when it was on his hand - but it wasn't the reason the Red Sox lost the game.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Jackie Bradley Jr. Making His Case

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In a stunning reversal of last year's dynamics, Jackie Bradley Jr. is having an excellent start to the season after a somewhat disappointing spring training. Ironically, Bradley wasn't even supposed to be on the Opening Day roster, but Shane Victorino tweaked his hamstring and got the flu, so here we are.

In seven games, Bradley has eight hits (including two doubles), with five RBIs - and he's come up with some key defensive plays in that time, too.

No word yet on Victorino's expected return, but if Bradley keeps up the good work, there will be some tough decisions ahead. It's pretty clear that Bradley's making his case to stay, and with Grady Sizemore embarking on a redemption tour of his own, the outfield could be pretty crowded with the return of the Flyin' Hawaiian.

It's a nice problem to have - I'd certainly rather worry where to put all the productive outfielders, rather than panicking over where to find some offensive power.