Signs of Spring!

As most of New England is shoveling out of back-to-back Nor’Easters, the Red Sox are ringing in Spring in sunny Fort Myers, FL. Under the leadership of their new skipper, Alex Cora, the Sox are preparing for a victorious 2018 season and their next World Series Championship.

So what can we look forward to this season you might ask?

How about an outfield stacked with some of the best talent in all of Major League Baseball? Sounds about right. Hanley Ramirez has already predicted that Andrew Benintendi be named AL MVP. And he’s in good company, considering Mookie Betts almost took home that title in 2016. And while, Jackie Bradley Jr.’s future with the Sox has been disputed, there is no question that the “triple B” outfield is a force to be reckoned with.

Benintendi, Bradley Jr., and Betts “Triple B” Outfield. PHOTO CREDIT: CBS Boston

And that’s without mentioning the Red Sox’s newest addition, J.D. Martinez. Martinez raked in over 100 RBIs and hit 45 home runs last season, 3 of them being grand slams. There is no doubt that the slugger will add some much-needed depth to the Red Sox starting lineup. Where he’ll start will be quite the question, however. Will he break up the triple B outfield? Or perhaps he’ll take over as DH and push Hanley Ramirez onto first. This question will be one of many to be answered this month during spring training.

J.D. Martinez joins the Red Sox. PHOTO CREDIT:

That begs the question of what the infield is shaping up to be. While there are certainly strong infielders, such as the ever-amazing and under-appreciated Xander Bogaerts, the Sox have some decisions to make about placements. With Dustin Pedroia still on the mend, it seems like Eduardo Nunez will stand in as the Sox second baseman come opening day. And while first and third base are still questionable vacancies, the Sox definitely have the talent to fill them in with guys like Rafael Devers and the sole flow bro, Brock Holt.

A stacked outfield and an infield full of potential only leaves the mound (and his partner behind the plate) up for question. The Red Sox rotation will be arguably the most anticipated outcome of Spring Training. The Sox have a mound and bullpen full of possibilities. Porcello, Price, and Sale seem like steady starters, but which lucky members will join them in the rotation? Kelly has proven to be consistent in the bullpen and Kimbrel will remain the anchor in the 9th. But, as with the other positions, the Sox definitely have some good choices when it comes to who will take the hill.

2016 AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello. PHOTO CREDIT: The Boston Globe

The team is showing real potential and excitement this Spring. While they tied today in their game against the Rays, the Sox sit at 4th out of 15 MLB teams in the Grapefruit League. All I know is that I am ready for this snow to melt and for Fenway’s gates to be opened again. Press on, my friends! Summer is coming!

New Beginnings

It has been exactly 2 weeks since the Red Sox 9th inning rally was cut short, along with the 2017 season. The Sox put up a valiant effort, but fell short to the now American League Champion Houston Astros.

While it wasn’t the outcome that Boston fans wanted, it is hard to be unhappy about an AL East Division title and a 90+ win season. However, Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox front office felt very differently. After back-to-back division titles and a World Series win, John Farrell got the boot from the Red Sox organization.

John Farrell played his final game in a Red Sox uniform in game 4 of the ALDS, during which he was ejected after arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire. Needless to say, it was not a majestic finish to his season and Red Sox career.

So you may wonder why such a “successful” manager was given the boot after what some other teams would consider a remarkable tenure. It’s because he was a manager in Boston. As other Red Sox managers can attest to, being a skipper in Boston is extremely difficult with constant criticism.

Boston fans like to win, and they will let people know that. And with an organization that has the money to ensure wins, anything short of a championship is a failure. So what did the Red Sox need to do? They needed to find someone who can handle Boston fans, Boston media, Boston’s expectation of greatness, and bring a championship back to this city.

And who better to do that than a former Boston World Series champion, Alex Cora. Cora played for the Red Sox from 2005-2008, including the 2007 World Series team. You may also know him as the current bench coach for the newly crowned AL Champion Houston Astros.

Canon EOS-1D Mark II with a 300mm lens.  Serial#:207335.  Shot at 800 ASA at  1/640 @ Ä3.2 using sRGB Normal.
Alex Cora during his time as a Red Sox infielder. PHOTO CREDIT: Boston Herald

The Astros will be hard at work this week, trying to take home the organization’s first ever World Series title. The Red Sox are hoping that Cora will bring that championship mentality back to Boston. As a man who knows the game, the organization, and the city, Cora is a fan favorite to take the helm of the 2018 Sox.

The Red Sox organization hopes that the 42-year old, Puerto Rico native will bring a breath of fresh air to this ball club. His passion for the sport is something that will undoubtedly please Boston fans. Upon being named Red Sox manager, Cora said (in part):

Returning to the Red Sox and the city of Boston is a dream come true for me and my family and I look forward to working towards the ultimate goal of winning another championship for this city and its great fans.

Alex, you are not alone! We are happy to have you back too. You will be warmly welcomed in Boston. It will get intense at times and fans will be passionate, but who could want baseball any other way?

As a side note, I think it is a good sign that one of Cora’s sons is named Xander… that name sounds familiar!

It’s Not Over Until They Say It’s Over!

David Ortiz, arguably the greatest Red Sox player of our time, once said:

I’m going to be done when I’ve decided that I’m done.

I don’t think that could be more accurate for this 2017 Red Sox team. This is a team that has struggled, triumphed, and competed until the very final out. This is a team that has more extra inning runs that any other MLB team. They fight tooth and nail to earn every win. And the playoffs will be no different. They will not be done until they have another ring on their finger.

Win. Dance. Repeat. PHOTO CREDIT: Sports Illustrated

The retirement of David Ortiz could have been a bust to the Red Sox morale, but instead, they rallied around each other and gave the fans something to be excited about. That rally will hopefully lead the Red Sox to what will be their second American League Eastern Division title in two years, something the Boston Red Sox have never done before.

But it’s not like there are any huge Blockbuster hitters on the team. In fact, only 13 members of the Red Sox have hit home runs this season. Technically LHP David Price has the best batting average on the team this season, hitting a 1.000 after his single in last week’s game against the Cincinnati Reds!

David Price
David Price singles in last week’s game against the Reds. PHOTO CREDIT: Boston Herald

Pitchers and hitters alike have battled in every play and in every game this season to pull out 91 wins so far. Xander Bogaerts alone has hit 6 triples, Mookie Betts is 3rd in MLB for doubles (46), and Chris Sale is dominating MLB in strikeouts at a whopping 308. He is only the second Red Sox pitcher to get over 300 strikeouts in one season, second to Pedro Martinez (313). However, if Sale pitches on Sunday versus the Astros and throws 6 strikeouts, he will pass Pedro Martinez for the most strikeouts in a single season by a Red Sox pitcher.

Do the Red Sox face any challenges in the postseason? Sure. The reigning AL Cy Young award winner, Rick Porcello, has 17 losses on the season and the Red Sox don’t have any real long ball hitters (they rank 27th in the MLB in home runs at 163). But have these challenges stopped the Red Sox from dominating in the past? Are they going to keep the Red Sox from a memorable playoff push? Absolutely not! This team has shown time and time again their resilience and perseverance.

If the Red Sox can stay happy and healthy, their spirit and ambition will carry them all the way to the top of the MLB!

A Poem: September Baseball

September baseball is my favorite thing, I like to wonder what the future will bring.

As the air gets colder, and the bullpen fires smolder,

True champions emerge, and playoff dreams begin to surge.

We play the birds, Rays, and yes the Yankees, but keeping first place will be breeze.

Mookie gets a hit, and the fans cannot sit.

Xander slides home, covered in infield loam.

Benintendi makes a spectacular diving catch! Careful, I think his pants may need a patch!

Moreland makes a pick at first, Sabathia looks like he might burst.

Win. Dance. Repeat. Jackie Loses a cleat!

He snags a high fly ball, then Farrell makes the call.

Kimbrel comes in, to assure us the win.

Stakes are high in the bottom of the ninth inning, and all the Sox can think about is winning.

Kimbrel goes one, two, three, and the fans cheer with glee!

The Sox spray champagne, the Yankees complain.

And as much as I love baseball in September, there is just one thing I like better…

When the ninth month is over, and legends are born in October!

fall ball.jpg
PHOTO CREDIT: Always Think Baseball

100-Win Season?

The Red Sox have never really been a “blockbuster” team. Sure, they have made attempts to become one (do the names Carl Crawford or Pablo Sandoval ring a bell?). However much of the success the Red Sox have had, especially this season, have come from the misfits. A mix of young blood, picked up waivers, and some soon-to-be-retired veterans.

I mean, let’s think about it. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, and now Rafael Devers at age 20, have all come through the Red Sox farm teams and have all made a name for themselves in Boston. These young guys carry the team and none of them are over 25. That is not a coincidence. They come to the field day in and day out to prove they belong under Fenway lights. Their hard work certainly pays off.

“Win. Dance. Repeat.” Featuring Benintendi, Betts, and Bradley Jr. PHOTO CREDIT: BostonSportsPub

But it’s not just the young guys making a splash. Doug Fister is the oldest pitcher on the Red Sox active roster. Fister is playing in his 9th MLB season and for his 5th MLB team. He joined the Sox late this season after shipping up to Boston from Houston and has proved that he has earned his stay. He knows that he has a chance to become a big name in Boston.

After giving up a lead off home run in last night’s game against the Indians, Fister quickly settled down and didn’t allow any other hits in his complete game on 114 pitches (72 of which were strikes). He treated the bullpen to a night off and provided solid support to the Price-less rotation. Fister could have taken that lead off home run and deflated, but he used that as fuel for his lights-out performance.

Pitcher Doug Fister. PHOTO CREDIT: The Boston Globe

The Red Sox are currently sitting pretty 4.5 games in first place ahead of the Yankees. And I don’t want to jinx anything but if the Red Sox can keep this up, they maybe be on track to win 100 games this season. September baseball is a beautiful, nerve-wracking, high-stakes, nail-biting time!

In my opinion, the reason the Red Sox work so well is because there are very few “blockbuster” players. Sure, the MLB has their eyes on a few key guys, but most of the team is out there on the field every night working their very hardest to prove that they belong there. There is no feeling of entitlement and slacking off. This team is built with extremely driven individuals.

The way things are going at this rate, I’m calling Rafael Devers to be rookie of the year (sorry Andrew Benintendi) and Chris Sale to be the AL Cy Young award winner. At this time last year the Sox were sitting at the top of the AL East and eventually went on to the ALDS until ultimately losing in game 3 to the Indians. But this year I want to see the Sox all the way in the World Series! Who knows, maybe we’ll face the NL Central division leading Chicago Cubs. Wouldn’t that be something!

Baseball Dreams Come True on Cape Cod

Baseball and summer go together like peanut butter and jelly! People dream of summer nights at the ballpark. It’s where memories are made. The smell of roasting hot dogs and popcorn popping is second only to the crack of a bat and the sound of the crowd cheering.

Major league parks are packed with fans all summer, with the exception of a few key people: the next generation of big leaguers.

As the college world series winds down, college athletes head home for some much-needed rest, but the most elite of those players make the trek to Cape Cod, Massachusetts to play on a team in the Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL). The CCBL is one of, if not the most, competitive collegiate baseball leagues in the nation.

According to the book, The Last Best League, written by Jim Collins, one out of every six major league baseball players get their start in the CCBL. Some notable Red Sox alumni of the league include Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek, Jackie Bradley Jr., Joe Kelly, Steven Wright, Kevin Millar, and Kevin Youkilis.

Fans enjoying a CCBL game at Spillane Field, home of the Wareham Gatemen!

Players from coast to coast make the journey up to the small towns on the Cape to show the big league scouts what they can do.

Fans vacationing on Cape Cod for the summer fill the 10 small stadiums sprinkled across the Cape. However, don’t let the size of the field fool you. These games are anything but a backyard ballgame. Scouts lounge behind home plate searching for the next great players. Tomorrow’s superstars are born on the Cape.

The CCBL fields are where dreams come true for young, talented players, and also for interns trying to make it in the world of broadcasting, scouting, and community relations.

The CCBL is a nonprofit organization so entry to the games are free, however some teams may ask for a donation. Players will gladly practice their autograph for anyone who asks and hot dogs are always on the grill!

For more information about the Cape Cod Baseball League click here

Fenway vs. Other MLB Fields

“Fenway Park, America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.” If you are a Red Sox fan, chances are you have strolled down Yawkey Way, entered the big gates at Fenway Park, emerged from the concourse with popcorn, and have seen the rolling green field before you. There is no feeling like it. The towering Green Monster, iconic yellow Pesky Pole, and small park charm makes the Boston ballpark the perfect place to watch the Red Sox conquer their opponents.

On Memorial Day I found myself in Chicago with some friends waiting for a late-night flight back to New England. It just so happened that the Red Sox were playing the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago that afternoon. So on a bit of a whim, we stood in line outside the stadium for a $15 ticket in upper-level seats. If you thought that I was going to be in Chicago at the same time as the Red Sox and not watch them play then you are kidding yourself!

We made our way through the gates and security, and took several escalator rides up to our seating level. Along the way up, my friends and I found a lookout that perfectly framed Chicago’s skyline with the iconic Willis Tower in the center. We stopped for a picture, as many other people did too!

Great view of Chicago!

The view was unlike any other! We walked through the concourse and found our seats. I was very impressed with the field. There were three decks of seating surrounding the infield. However in the outfield, only one relatively low section of seating was available to allow spectators to see the city beyond the ball park.

Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago, IL

Very contrary to Fenway Park, while I was sitting in Guaranteed Rate Field, I felt like I was very much part of the city. At Fenway, I often feel that the big Green Monster shields me from the surrounding city, like walls of a castle, and I am completely invested in the field before me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the intimate feeling at Fenway, but I enjoyed the view from my seat in Chicago because I was able to take in the city and the game in one sweeping view.

This was my first time experiencing a Red Sox game not at Fenway Park. It was odd to be cheering when those around me were lamenting, and vice versa to be disappointed while those around me cheered. I felt like a bit of a rebel! Although, I was very surprised by the number or Red Sox fans in the stands, as evidenced by the red hats and shirts in the crowd.

It was also great to see David Price’s first game this season after he was benched with an elbow injury for most of April and May. Price went 5 good innings. It was by no means a lights-out performance but it was an okay first day. The Sox went on to lose but the game was an exciting one to watch with a very close score throughout.

It was odd to not hear “Sweet Caroline” ring out among the crowd, and there was no one shouting “Get your Fenway Franks here!” But I must say it was a fun experience and very interesting to watch the game in another team’s field. I am hoping to visit other MLB parks to experience the different games and cities, though I’m quite certain that no field will ever measure up to Fenway!


Baseball on TV vs. Radio

One of the greatest feelings in the world is emerging from the concourse of a baseball stadium and seeing the green grass on the field. Players take their positions, fans cheer, and peanuts are thrown around. Nothing compares to experiencing a baseball game right in front of you.

However, most fans rely on television and radio to get their baseball fix because attending every game is hardly realistic (no matter how much we’d like to think a “Fever Pitch” scenario is possible). So there lies the debate. Do baseball fans like watching the sport on TV or listening to it on the radio.

Personally, my favorite way to experience baseball is to put the game on TV, mute the volume, and put on music. I like to watch the game but I watch it without the announcers’ commentary to allow myself to have my own thoughts about the plays. 

Recently, my cable subscription no longer includes the Red Sox baseball carrier, NESN. Thus, I have turned to the radio to get my Red Sox fix. And while I love hearing Joe Castiglione’s voice over my radio, I can’t help but feel like something is missing when I listen to the games. I like to see the players and see their interactions.

However, radio does allow you to make fantastic pictures in your head about what is going on on the field, like reading a book or listening to a story. I’ve seen people listen to the game on the radio while they sit in the ballpark! It allows the fan to be much more in-tune to the game without the distraction of their surroundings.

I will admit, when Don Orsillo left the NESN broadcast booth to cover the San Diego Padres, my heart broke a little. I’m happy for Don but Red Sox nation was sad to see him go. Proving that the announcer truly has a large role in the fan’s experience of a baseball game.

So which is better? Watching baseball on TV or listening to it on the radio? Each have their pros and cons. Each impact the fans’ experiences in a different way.

Sox Standouts this Season

22 games into the season and the Red Sox are still searching for their groove. While the pitching has been generally consistent and reliable, the offense has been rather lackluster. The Red Sox are sitting in the middle of the AL East, currently 3 games behind the Yankees. But there is plenty of time to catch up!

Although the offense collectively may be experiencing a beginning slump, there are a few key players who have been standouts throughout this young season!

Chris Sale is on track to win his first Cy Young award. With the second lowest ERA in MLB (1.19) and the most strikeouts in MLB so far this season (52), Sale is proving to be just as successful as promised. And while his 1-2 record may look meek, his power is anything but!

But Sale isn’t the only new Red Sox performing well so far this season! Mitch Moreland is proving to be “More” than expected! In the 22 games the Sox have on the season, Moreland has 24 hits (half of those being doubles). His power at the plate and athleticism at first make him an anchor for this 2017 team.

But if we are talking about power and talent, we need to acknowledge Andrew Benintendi. The rookie has come up strong this season with 27 hits and a .325 batting average. Though he is young, he seems anything but inexperienced.

The youth in this team is coming in strong this season, as expected. Xander Bogaerts remains a top offensive stand-out this season. Though the slumping hitters may be missing the power and guidance of David Ortiz, Bogaerts is proving yet again why he deserves his spot on the team. He’s got over 20 hits and a .313 average so far this season. And though he batted sixth on opening day (after missing much of Spring Training due to his participation in the World Baseball Classic), Xander has worked himself up to the lead-off position.

MLB: ALDS-Cleveland Indians at Boston Red Sox
Xander Bogaerts at the plate! PHOTO CREDIT: BoSox Injection

With Xander leading off, where does that put Dustin Pedroia? At sixth where Xander started. With the nasty slide at second in the Orioles series, which left Pedey benched with an injured knee, his season has been just shy of everyone’s hopes. But I think he just needs to find his rhythm and we will see great things from him going forward.

So is the offense off to a slow start? Yes. But do they have the potential to do amazing things this season? Absolutely! And I have a feeling we will breakout soon!

‘Twas the Night Before Opening Day

‘Twas the night before Opening Day, when all through Sox Nation,

All the players were stirring, ready to take their stations.

The cleats were hung in the clubhouse with care, with hopes that the fans soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of home runs danced in their heads.

And Mamma in her jersey, and I in my cap, had just awakened from a long winter’s nap.

When out on the field there arose such a clatter, and I ran to my seat to see what was the matter.

Off to the Grand Stands I ran in a dash, to see Pedey’s ball hit the Monster with a crash.

He rounded first to beat the fielder’s throw, and slid into second, missing the tag just below.

When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but thirty-eight thousand on their feet with cheer.

Then Mookie stepped up so lively and quick, and I knew in a moment that this would be it.

With a crack of his bat, to me the ball came,

And Pedey slid home to win us the game.

He sprang to his feet to give his team a shout, and ran his way over to the ecstatic dugout.

But just before he disappeared out of sight, he shouted to us:

Happy Opening Day to all, and to all a good night!



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