Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lackey is brilliant in Red Sox win

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John Lackey's 2013 postseason brilliance was overshadowed by FOX's lovefest for Justin Verlander - and his brilliance last night is being overshadowed by Michael Pineda's blatant flouting of a rule that basically everybody bends.

But even with the shenanigans going on in the opposing dugout, Lackey was dominant in yesterday's game, holding the Yankees to a single run over eight innings. More impressively, Lackey had eleven strikeouts, no walks, and gave the bullpen some much needed rest.

People scoffed at me when I drafted Lackey for two of my fantasy teams, but I believe I'll have the last laugh. Throughout his career, Lackey has been a workhorse, and since his incredibly successful Tommy John surgery in 2012 he's been extremely solid.

Last season, Lackey suffered from a serious lack of run support, but even though he lost more games than he won, he tossed 189 innings with a 3.52 ERA, and won the clinching game of the World Series. Before last night's game, Lackey hadn't been all that impressive so far this season, but I see great things in the future - last night was just the opening salvo. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In Defense of Jacoby Ellsbury

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Even when Jacoby Ellsbury won us all free tacos in 2007, even when he was healthy, I always kept myself from embracing him fully. He certainly helped the Red Sox during his time here, and by all accounts was a good teammate; he even grew a beard during last season's magical run.

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But through all that, there was a lingering certainty that Ellsbury's presence in the Red Sox dugout, and in center field at Fenway, was temporary. You don't sign with Scott Boras to take a home town discount.

I understand that fans were upset at Ellsbury's departure. He was a young, talented, home grown player with the kind of speed we rarely get to see in a Red Sox uniform. But unlike certain other beloved players who have defected to the Bronx, Ellsbury never claimed he wouldn't play for the Yankees. Ellsbury never promised to be a Red Sox for life.

Hell, the Red Sox didn't even offer Ellsbury a contract, knowing full well they would have to commit to him for more years and more dollars than they were comfortable with. Sure, Ellsbury has been dynamite for the Yankees for far this season, but not signing him was never about this season.

The Red Sox didn't sign Jacoby Ellsbury because there's no telling what kind of player he will be by the end of his contract. Would you be willing to pay Jacoby Ellsbury $21 million dollars for his age 37 season? Especially considering his lack of durability in his twenties, I'm perfectly content to say goodbye.

I know Red Sox fans are suffering through a pretty bad start, and it's easy to say that keeping Ellsbury would have prevented that. That might even be true, but it's short-sighted - the Red Sox had Ellsbury for most of his prime years, at a reasonable price, and it would not be prudent to pay a premium for the better part of the next decade. (Personally, I'm in the camp that wishes we'd kept Jarrod Saltalamacchia instead of embarking on the A.J. Pierzynski Experiment.)

I haven't been at Fenway yet this season, so I missed Ellsbury's (figuratively) pinstriped Fenway debut. I understand the mixed reaction fans had to him, particularly given his spectacular performance in the absolute thrashing the Red Sox took at the hands of the Yankees.

But what did Red Sox fans want Ellsbury to do? Retire? The Red Sox didn't even offer him a contract (and no, a one-year qualifying offer doesn't count). Sure, it hurts that he went to the Yankees as opposed to literally any other team. But he took the money and security the Yankees offered, and almost anyone out there would do the same.

The truth is, Ellsbury looks like he belongs in a Yankees uniform. The Red Sox were always looser and sillier than would have suited Ellsbury - the Yankees straight-laced style fits his businesslike demeanor much better. 

Obviously, I would prefer he have no more games like last night while playing against the Red Sox, but I won't waste any more time booing him or wringing my hands because he left us. Ellsbury was never a traitor. He's a practical man who made a pragmatic decision, and I won't hold it against him.

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.