Saturday, April 16, 2011

First Fenway Visit of 2011

Was very, very cold.  I had on a T-shirt, a Sox long-sleeved shirt, a very comfortable school sweatshirt, and a heavy black trenchcoat--and I was still cold.  Though not as cold as the Sox performance!  So a few notes of what I saw in person:

--The Fenway Faithful are quickly losing the faith.  Several booed most of the night, which isn't helpful for the players.  They're pressing enough as it is--and they ARE clearly pressing--and so putting more pressure on them by booing them is counterproductive.

--But when you're paying your mortgage to watch the games, how else can most vent their frustration?  I just shake my head and logically say what shouldn't have happened; but, in that, my friend is right when he says that, as a fan, "I'm kind of bland."

--And you're supposed to say that in your best Joe Castiglione voice--and make it very nasal.

--So Defense Exhibit A of a player pressing: Crawford, in the 7th, had a 3-1 count on him, with the bases empty, Sox down by 4.  In such a situation, you learn in high school to take that 3-1 pitch.  Always.  A solo homer by you does no good; you need to get on base, start a big inning, make things happen on the basepaths, and hope your teammates keep the line moving.  So you take that 3-1, and if it's a strike, you do what you have to on 3-2.  Plus, that's one more pitch for the reliever to throw, and the more relievers throw, the more you can get to them.  The worst thing you can do is swing at that pitch.  What's he do?  He swings and pops it up to third.  Crawford knows not to do this.  So why do it?  Because he's pressing and trying to do too much.  (Even players like Ortiz need to take on 3-1 there, though the player I'm speaking of here was Crawford, a leadoff guy.)

--Defense Exhibit B: Ellsbury gets on base in the 8th and steals second base, going to third on the errant throw.  At first I told my friend I liked the play because the Sox--yesterday and today--need a spark, anything at all to get them going.  While I still believe this, and while this example is not as egregious as the one described above because of that, you still don't steal 2nd down by 4 in the 8th inning, with your team pressing.  It's a percentage play that, had it failed, would have been disasterous for many reasons.

--The most glaring offensive problem is that they are not playing fundamental baseball when at the plate.  They are not swinging smartly, or working the count, or working the pitchers, etc.  They're flailing up there, or guessing and thinking too much up there.  At 2-10, it needs to come down to: Be smart.  Go back to basics.  And in a hitting count, don't think too much or guess: See the ball, hit the ball.

--The Sox are missing John Farrell.  And somebody needs to get on Curt Young, big-time.

--Francona sent a message to Salty by pinch-hitting Lowrie for him in the 8th.  I've said it a ton already this year, but I'll say it again: Salty is not calling a good game, and he's not hitting.  Maybe Varitek needs to be a backup, but not to this guy.  I want to see Varitek in there for at least the next 10 games.  Let's see what he can do.  He can't do any worse.

--The brand new Hi-Def screens look great, but the info. put on there is for the fan who otherwise would not know what was going on.  In other words, not the serious fan.

--The Sox don't make as much money on tickets as they do on concessions.  Our tickets were $30 each, not too bad for Fenway.  But a regular plastic cup of Coors Lite is $8, and a Sam Adams Summer Ale (perfect for last night's game) was $8.50.  A quick look around you shows you that a vast majority of the 38,000 fans had at least one.  And those who had more than one compensated for those who didn't have any, believe me.

--Jencks needs to pitch out of the stretch all the time.

--It's a mystery why J.D. Drew, with that swing, hasn't amassed 3,000 hits.  Except, of course, that he doesn't play when he gets a splinter, and he doesn't swing a vast majority of the time.  Okay, forget I said that.

--To show how unfaithful the Faithful are, when the Sox trailed by 4, the place emptied out, fast.  There was a sparse crowd after the 6th inning, and almost no one saw the 3 runs in the 8th.

--A quick look at today's news shows you that Dykstra has been arrested for stealing from himself (can't do that when you declare bankruptcy) and that he's been defrauding others for years.  Don't say I didn't tell you.  If you've forgotten, read my blog entry on him here.

--And Gooden got 5 years' probation for being high on cocaine while driving, causing an accident in which a child of his wasn't buckled in.  Call it the Curse of '86.  Buckner lives a life of guilt-free bliss compared to these guys.

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