Tuesday, May 02, 2006

1 down, 18 to go

The Red Sox and Yankees met at Fenway Park last night, renewing what is almost certainly the greatest, fiercest. most intense rivalry in American pro sports. They'll play 19 times this year, and the outcome of that series is very likely to determine the winner of the AL East. Two years ago, the Yankees won the East despite Boston taking 11-of-19 head-to-head, but the Red Sox beat NY in the ALCS. Last year, the team's finished tied with 95-67 records, and the Yankees won the East by virtue of their 10-9 season series victory. Basically, when you expect that the division will be won by one of these two teams, you're talking about a 2-game swing in the standings for every game played. Add to that the intensity of the fan bases, and it becomes a very big deal. (Tune in later today for some background on Yankee/Red Sox...)

For today, some odds and ends related to yesterday's events...

  • The Red Sox re-acquired catcher Doug Mirabelli from the San Diego Padres for Josh Bard, minor league reliever Cla Meredith, a player-to-be-named-later AND cash. Mirabelli, of course, has been Tim Wakefield's "personal catcher" for the past 4 seasons, and was traded to San Diego this winter for second-baseman Mark Loretta. I loved that trade. I hate this one.

    I have no objection to having Mirabelli back. And Bard had struggled catching the knuckleball. But there was reason to think that he was getting better. And, cries of panic from the vocal members of the Red Sox Nation notwithstanding, Bard hadn't cost them anything in terms of games. Yes, there had been more passed balls than probably would have been seen with Mirabelli. Yes, there have been some unearned runs. The bottom line is this - in Wakefield's last four starts, he'd thrown 28 1/3 innings and allowed 12 total runs. That's 3 runs in 7+ innings, and that's all you expect from Wakefield. People were shrieking and screaming, "Wakefield NEEDS Mirabelli!" and "Wakefield's really struggling with Bard," but that's just not true. He was 1-3 in those last 4 starts because the Red Sox had scored 6 runs total, and 4 of those were in the win. In his last 3 starts, Boston had scored a total of 2 runs.

    So they made a panic move which didn't address the problem. If the Red Sox had scored 6 runs in each of Wakefield's last 3 starts, he'd be 4-1, and the move yesterday wouldn't have been made. Which makes it the very definition of a panic move.

  • There was a lot of hype (as always) leading up to last night's game, and the "renewal of hostilities." A lot of it focused, unsurprisingly, on Johnny Damon. I've got to plead passionate indifference. Four years ago, Dan Duquette signed Damon to a contract that was, in my opinion, too long and too high. Damon turned out to be a hitter who was built for Fenway Park, and he was a good player for Boston, an excellent one in Boston. There's no question that he was a big part of that 2004 World Series team, and I've got only fond memories of his time in Boston.

    But he was a mercenary when he arrived. Boston was his third team, and there was no reason to think he wouldn't move on to the highest bidder when his contract expired. And there was no reason that the Yankees wouldn't be that highest bidder, given the effectively unlimited purse and the gaping hole in CF. So I don't have any problem with him moving on, because that contract was ridiculous. He can't earn it, but it's not Boston's problem - I'd rather have Coco Crisp. Thanks for the memories, Johnny, but have a nice life. I just don't care anymore...

  • All that said, the "Looks like Jesus, Acts like Judas, Throws like Mary" shirts are pretty funny.

  • I was a little bit concerned when the Yankees signed Mike Myers over the winter. Myers is, in my opinion, only a tactical weapon, but he's a valuable one. For the past couple of years, the Red Sox have had someone to pitch to Giambi or Matsui in tight late-inning situations, and the Yankees have had no one to pitch to Ortiz. I thought that the move of Myers from Boston to New York could easily result in an extra head-to-head win for the Yankees.

    Myers came into a 4-3 game last night. 8th inning, 2 on, 1 out. He came in to face David Ortiz on a night that it seemed impossible for anyone to hit the ball out of Fenway Park. On a 3-2 pitch, Ortiz hit one into the Red Sox bullpen, giving the Red Sox a 7-3 lead and effectively ending the drama.

  • As I said, I didn't think anyone could hit one out. Ortiz absolutely hammered that ball. In Chris Snow's Red Sox notebook in the Globe this morning, that was addressed.
    Greg Rybarczyk, creator of the home run tracking device Hit Tracker, offered the following insight on David Ortiz's eighth-inning homer off Mike Myers, the only extra-base hit on a 46-degree night with a 16 mile-per-hour wind blowing in: ''Using 46 degrees and 16 m.p.h. wind in from CF, Ortiz's homer left the bat at 120.7 m.p.h., at an angle of 37.7 degrees (a very nice hit speed and angle for distance). It actually traveled 395 feet, and the impact from atmospherics were as follows: Impact from wind: -54 feet (as compared to no wind). Impact from temperature: -12 feet (as compared to a 70 degree day). If there had been no wind and 70 degrees, the ball would have gone 460 feet (this is what I call 'standard distance'). So far this year, there have only been 10 homers hit that had a longer 'standard distance.' Another stat: if the wind had been blowing out to CF at 16 m.p.h. instead, the ball would have gone 509 feet, and it would have landed about 25 rows up in section 37 of the CF bleachers."

    And if you haven't seen the hit tracker website, check it out now. It's very cool.

  • 1 down, 18 to go...

Technorati tags: RedSox, Yankees, Mirabelli, Wakefield



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