SOX FANS AND MEDIA TOO NEGATIVE!!

Vice President Spiro Agnew, before being forced to resign from office after allegations of tax fraud, speaking to the California Republican State Convention in 1970, referred to the media in general as ‘ Nattering, Nabobs of Negativism ‘ and said that they had formed their own 4H Club, the ‘ Hopeless, Hysterical Hypochondriacs of History ‘.

William Safire, perhaps the world’s foremost expert on language and its use, before his death, actually wrote the speech for Agnew to respond to attacks from the media on the Nixon Administration.

This past week, I was reminded of Agnew’s remarks often when listening to the Boston area sports talk shows crucifying the Red Sox, from John Henry, Dave Dombrowski and John Farrell down to Dustin Pedroia, Rick Porcello and everybody else. It seemed the only people in the organization who did not come under some kind of fire, from this group of self proclaimed experts, for the team’s collapse against Houston and their failure to live up to expectations during the season, were the clubhouse staff.

Perhaps I am extra sensitive to the criticism of these modern day ‘ Nattering Nabobs of Negativism ‘ since I was one of the few writers who predicted this year’s team would go to the World Series, But they did win the Eastern Division regular season championship beating out an exceptionally strong Yankee team and then came back from two games down against a powerhouse Houston Astros team and narrowly missed forcing a fifth game in the ALCS.

I, for one, have heard enough about their rants that the Red Sox are not likeable, whatever that means, their lack of power, their out of control base running, the lack of control exercised by John Farrell, both in managing the team and in his love life, the fact that Dombrowski has not won a World Series in years, Pedroia’s not running out the last ground ball of the season, and on and on and on. If that isn’t nauseating enough, when things are quiet, they’ll resurrect the tempest in a teapot that was the confrontation between David Price and Dennis Eckersley.

The only thing about baseball that these talk show stations air more often than criticism of the Red Sox is the advertising tape that describes Lou Merloni’s home run in his first at bat in Fenway which apparently made him an expert ready to expound upon everything from football, basketball, race relations, political correctness or the lack thereof, to the actions of the President of the United States and anything else in between.

I feel sorry for the members of the Boston sports media, who seem to think that their job is to find the negative in every aspect of sport and life and hone in on it. I grew up with Mel Allen and Red Barber and others who could focus on the positive while making their listeners aware of the negative and still be entertaining and successful.

I, for one, as a fan of baseball in general and the Yankees and Red Sox in particular, have thoroughly enjoyed this baseball season. The Sox and Yankees in a race to the finish that went right down to the wire. The big names like Williams and DiMaggio, Yaz and the Mick, Parnell and Ford and the like were replaced by youngsters named Betts and Judge, Bogaerts and Gregorius and Sale and C. C., but it was still like old times.

Unlike many of the old years when ‘Wait until next year’ was the Red Sox motto, the Sox did not fold down the stretch but held on to win the Division. Apparently, these experts are not aware that the Red Sox have won 93 games in each of the last two years and that that total of 186 wins in the last two years has only been exceeded in the American League by the Cleveland Indians. I wonder how many games they would have to win to be deemed ‘likeable’ by these experts of negativity.

Naturally, Red Sox Nation wanted their team to go all the way and win the series and many, like myself, had envisioned a classic World Series played in Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. That didn’t happen but, from April until October, this team kept us on the edge of our seats and involved.

From August 1st until October 1st, the Sox were on top of the Eastern Division. Red Sox fans watched a young team that, no matter what the ‘experts’ say, was fun and exciting to see. They didn’t go all the way to the World Series Championship but, along the way, they gave us a lot to be thankful for.

I am thankful for the opportunity to have seen a baby faced, 20 year old, named Rafael Devers explode on the Fenway scene and, along with a veteran named Eduardo Nunez, who tried to play when he could hardly stand, and lined a ball into the left field corner on one leg before having to be almost carried off the field, provide the spark that kept them in the race.

I am thankful for having witnessed Chris Sale’s amazing streak of outstanding performances and record setting strikeouts despite his late season problems.

I am thankful for having marveled at Mookie Betts, the RBI machine, base running wizard, Gold Glove outfielder, who works harder at playing the game than anybody in baseball and has a great time doing it.

I appreciate the dedication and ability of the veteran second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, who in addition to his uncanny ability to get to any ball hit between first and second base and make the play, has played hurt as well and as often as any player in the game today.

Who could not appreciate the contributions of rookie Andrew Benintendi, whose bat contributed so much to this year’s success and who, along with Jackie Bradley and Betts, give the Sox the best defensive outfield in baseball? And, who could not appreciate how quickly Benintendi became as good as anybody who ever played there at playing the left field wall or the way Bradley makes the impossible catch look easy and the routine catch an art form.

I appreciate the contributions of the Big Smooth, Drew Pomeranz, who had a Cy Young year of his own, the record breaking year of baseball’s best closer, Craig Kimbrel, the incredible record of one of, if not the best, bull pens in baseball and the contributions of Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland, Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon, Brock Holt and all the rest, even Hanley Ramirez who, despite a disappointing year, gave them such a big lift in the ALCS.

I am thankful for the opportunity to watch Maine’s own Brian Butterfield who is not only one of the most knowledgeable baseball men in the game but also has the ability to transfer that knowledge to his players.

Despite all the negative press about David Price’s lack of production, his problems with Eck and the general discontent with him and his big salary in Boston, and the criticism I will get for saying so, I am thankful that he had the opportunity at the end of the season to show what a class act he really is and I can’t wait to see him in 2018 at his best.

At the same time that I am thankful that John Farrell will not be back as Manager next year, I wonder if things might have been different if this nice man had ever realized that he was in charge.

Having grown up in Connecticut, a Yankee fan since I saw my first game in Yankee Stadium at age seven, in 1945, I am also thankful for the season that the Bronx Bombers put together this year.

As we get ready for another great World Series and then a long winter with no baseball, what could be better for a New Englander than knowing that the coming season will see the two teams with the greatest rivalry in all sports facing each other with two of the best rosters in baseball. The only thing that could make it better for you would be if you were, like me, a Yankee fan, writing about the Red Sox on a daily basis. That’s as close to heaven as a baseball fan can get.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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THE KEY TO RED SOX PLAYOFFS

On March 12th of this year, I wrote in my weekly column ‘ A World Series played in Fenway Park and Wrigley Field could be the classic series of all time and these two franchises, both of whom went without for so long, seem poised to give it to us this year. ‘

On Wednesday of this past week, the Red Sox were three games ahead of the second place Yankees in the Eastern Division of the American League with just 11 games left to play and the Cubs were 3½ games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers in the Central Division of the National League with just 12 games to play. Almost anything can happen in those last few games but both teams seem to be a lock for the post season.

My prediction that the Red Sox will go all the way to the World Series has drawn me a great deal of flack, particularly with my friends at Dutch Elm Golf, where I seem to spend a large proportion of my days this time of the year. They haven’t been as vocal since the Sox moved into first place to stay on August 1st but even the most avid Sox fans still have doubts and still take me to task when they lose.

At this point, it seems that the Sox will play Houston or Cleveland, in the American League Division Series and, assuming they get by whoever they play, will play either the other or a Wild Card team in the American League Championship Series. Those of you that are offensive minded will point out that the Astros, on Wednesday, had the highest batting average, .282, in all of baseball, that Cleveland had the second highest, .263, in the American League and that Boston’s .259 was the fifth best in the league. In addition, the Astros led all of baseball with 818 runs scored, Cleveland was fourth in the league with 763 and the Sox were sixth at 729.

To make it worse, Houston had the highest slugging percentage in baseball at .479, Cleveland was second in the league at .450 and the Sox were next to last in the league at .407. Of course, the Astros had the third most home runs, 222, in all of baseball while Cleveland was 15th with 197 and Boston was 27th in baseball and last in the American League with 156.

With all this evidence against them, how can anybody, even I, continue to predict that the Sox will join the Cubs in the Fall Classic? The answer is very simple, one word, pitching.

Earl Weaver, the great Orioles’ Manager once said ‘ The only thing that matters is what happens on that little hump out in the middle of the field.’ Pitching is always rated between 75 and 90 percent of baseball and that is even more true in the short five and seven game series that make up the Playoffs and World Series.

The Sox have two of the top starters in the league in Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz. Eduardo Rodriguez had given them two quality starts out of three in September and Rick Porcello had shown signs of regaining last season’s form with a fine performance on September 17th. Despite his poor results in his last two outings, Doug Fister had put together four consecutive impressive performances before that. In their first 16 games in September, the starters produced quality starts in eight of their ten wins and, in the six that they lost, the offense produced just 15 runs, an average of 2½ runs per loss.

They also have perhaps the best closer in baseball in Craig Kimbrel. They have, by far, the deepest bull pen in baseball. Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Joe Kelly, Addison Reed, Robbie Scott, Carson Smith, Brandon Workman and Austin Maddox and company have compiled the second best relief ERA in either league.

With Sale, Pomeranz and Rodriguez and that extremely deep bullpen, Red Sox pitching could carry the them deep into the Playoffs. The key is management of that abundance of pitching. Sale has, as in other years, weakened as the season went on, never winning more games than he loses in September. Pomeranz has been brilliant but has not gone deep into the late innings often. Rodriguez has had injury problems and has not gone deep into games either.

The Red Sox roster for the Playoffs has obviously not been put together yet but I have to assume that the eight relievers that I mentioned above will be on that roster. If so and if John Farrell can overcome his reluctance to warm up relievers and take out starters before the game is lost, this team is the ideal team to implement a strategy Kevin Cash has adopted in Tampa Bay.

With a much weaker pitching staff, Cash has basically limited his starters to five innings and let the bull pen do their job the rest of the way. This strategy leaves room for that day when a starter is obviously cruising after five and should be left in. It also limits the chance that a tired starter will give up a big hit or inning before some help can be summoned, which has been one of Farrell’s weaknesses all season.

David Price, the much maligned, former Cy Young winner, who, despite a 17-9 record last year and a league leading 230 innings pitched, and who has been written off by most Red Sox fans, mainly because of his $31.million per year salary and his elbow problems this season, may hold the key to the team’s post season. If he continues to look as good in two or three three inning stints of relief as he did last Sunday and Friday he might fill the fourth starter’s slot in this scenario or provide additional long relief out of the bullpen.

Forget his previous poor performance in post season. David Price is a highly motivated professional with something to prove to Red Sox Nation. Like it or not, he may hold the key to the Red Sox 2017 World Series hopes.

Despite the fact that the Sox and Cubs are the only Division Leaders that have not clinched their divisions as yet, I still expect that, when the World Series starts on Tuesday October 24th, they will be the participants. If you are planning on being there, wear warm clothing as it will be a cold World Series.

STEALING SIGNS ELECTRONICALLY

The Yankees recently accused the Red Sox of stealing signs and using an Apple phone to transmit the information to their players. It is amazing to me that this accusation got as much play as it did because stealing signs has been going on for as long as baseball players and coaches have been using signs as a method of transmitting information.

The mere fact that signs are used to transmit information indicates that there would be an advantage in knowing what the signs meant and, therefore, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that someone will try to steal them.

On this date, in 1900, the Cincinnati Reds were playing the Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia’s Baker Bowl. The story goes that the Reds had long felt that the Phillies were stealing their signs when they would play them there. During the ball game, that day, Petie Chiles, who was also known as

‘ What’s the use Chiles ‘, a player who, when he wasn’t playing, enjoyed coaching third, was doing so that day. According to the story, as told by Joe Dittmar in the Baseball Research Journal, Chiles ‘ had an unusual twitch in his legs at times and often stood in one position, right in the middle of a perpetual wet spot, in the corner of the coaches’ box.’

Tommy Corcoran, the Reds’ shortstop, had been apparently been watching Chiles closely and, during the third inning of the game, went over to the coaches box and began digging with his spikes in the dirt. He supposedly uncovered a wooden box with wires and a buzzer type device. One version of the story recalls, that Corcoran then traced the wires to the center field fence where a man named Murphy would steal the sign with a ‘spyglass’ and relay it to Chiles via a buzzer in the box. Other versions just speculate that the signs were being relayed electrically from a spotter in center field but Dittmar notes that, whatever you believe, Murphy was thereafter known as ‘ Thomas Edison Murphy ‘.

Obviously, signs have been stolen for years and there is not clear definition of what is acceptable thievery and what isn’t. Pitchers and catchers routinely have multiple sets of signals with which to call for pitches because of the possibility of them being stolen by runners on second. Many Major League baseball players will tell you that they don’t want someone signaling the incoming pitch to them because of the danger to them an error could create. At any rate, I don’t see Yankee General Manager Cashman’s complaint as changing the game.

THE SOX NEED SALE

Red Sox fans should breathe a sigh of relief after Chris Sale shutout the Tampa Bay Rays for six innings last night, while striking out eight to bring his strikeout total for the year to 278. After losing three of his last four starts and not looking like himself in three of them, he looked almost like the Chris Sale who won 14 and lost just four to start the season.

Since he became a starter in 2012, Sale has had a history of poor performance in the month of September. In that five year period, despite winning 70 while losing just 47, he was 7-13 in September, never winning more games than he lost during that month. From April through August, in that period, he won 63 and lost only 24 with a 2.97 ERA. In the month of September, his ERA ballooned to 3.87 as he gave up 74 runs in 172.1 innings over 27 starts.

Last year, while still with the White Sox, he threw 226 2/3 innings, the most of his career, and was 2-3 in September with a 4.39 ERA. He had thrown 185 2/3 innings before September last year, the highest in his career. This year, he had thrown 172.1 innings entering September.

After September 3rd, when he lost to the Yankees, giving up three homers and lasting just 4 1/3 innings, there was concern that he might be tiring. He had an extra day’s rest between starts this time and he looked much better.

With a four and one half game lead with just 20 games to go, barring a collapse by the rest of the staff, Farrell should be able to reduce his innings. With a fresh Chris Sale, the Red Sox have as good a shot as anyone in the Playoffs but, if he pitches as he has after August in previous years, the Red Sox will not go far in the Post Season.

THE LEGACY OF PEDRO MARTINEZ

THE 3,000 STRIKEOUTS OF PEDRO MARTINEZ

On September 3, 2007, exactly 10 years ago today, Pedro Martinez, pitching for the New York Mets against the Cincinnati Reds, in his first start of the season, struck out opposing pitcher Aaron Harang for the 3,000th strikeout of his career. He became just the 15th pitcher in baseball history to reach the 3,000 strikeouts mark and would end his carer with 3,154, the 13th highest total in all of baseball history.

Of course, there is a good chance that Nolan Ryan’s record of 5,714 career strikeouts will never be broken but Pedro achieved his 3,154 in just an 18 year career, while Ryan had a 27 year career. In fact, of the 15 pitchers who have reached 3,000, only the St. Louis Cardinals great Bob Gibson did it in a shorter career, pitching for 17 years.

In his amazing seven years with the Red Sox, from 1998-2004, Pedro struck out 1,683 batters an average of 244 per year and won 117 games while losing just 37, a .760 won loss percentage.

To put that percentage in perspective, Spud Chandler, of the Yankees, holds the highest career won loss percentage in modern baseball history of .717 and Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers Ace, holds the second highest at .695. Pedro’s career record of 219 wins and 100 losses gave him a career percentage of

.687, fourth highest in modern baseball history. Beside Chandler and Kershaw, only Yankee great Whitey Ford had a higher percentage at .690.

Pedro had been signed by the Mets in 2005, as a Free Agent, after he helped lead the Red Sox to the pennant and their first World Series win in 86 years in 2004, winning 16 and losing 9 with a 3.90 ERA and 227 strikeouts in 217 innings. He also won Game 3 in the Red Sox sweep of the World Series, shutting out the Cardinals for seven innings in the Sox 4-1 win. He was made a Free Agent after the 2004 season and signed with the Mets on December 17, 2004.

Born in Manoguyabo, Dominican Republic, on October 25, 1971, Pedro was signed as a Free Agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 18, 1988, at 17 years old. He played in the Dominican in 1989 and was with the Great Falls Dodgers in the Rookie Pioneer League in 1990.

In 1991, at age 19, he began the season with the Class A Bakersfield Dodgers, where he was 8-0 with a 2.05 ERA, moved up to the AA San Antonio Missions, where he was 7-5 with a 1.76 ERA and then to the AAA Albuquerque Dukes where he was 3-3 with a 3.66 ERA. In that year, he won 18 and lost 8 with a 2.28 ERA in the minors.

He spent most of 1992 with Albuquerque, winning 7 and losing 6 with a 2.25 ERA, and was called up in September and got into two games with the Dodgers. In 1993, he was 10-5 with the Dodgers with a 2.61 ERA, pitching in relief with just two starts.

On November 19, 1993, he was traded to the Montreal Expos, where he won 55 and lost 33, with a 3.06 ERA, in four years. In 1997, he won 17 and lost 8 and posted a 1.90 ERA to win the Cy Young Award. On November 18, of that year, he was traded to the Red Sox for Carl Pavano and Tony Armas.

In his first year with the Sox, 1998, he won 19 and lost 7 with a 2.89 ERA. In 1999, with a 23-4 record and a 2.07 ERA, he won his second Cy Young and, in 2000, he won his third with an 18-6 record and a 1.74. He led the league in strikeouts in 1999, with 313 and, in 2000, with 284. The Sox went to the Playoffs in 1988 and 1989 and he was 3-0 in three starts with a 1.13 ERA.

In 2001, he missed two months with a rotator cuff tear and was just 7-3 but, in 2002 he was 20-4 with a league 2.26 ERA and a league leading 239 strikeouts and finished second in the Cy Young balloting.

In 2003, he was 14-4 with a 2.22 ERA and the Sox met the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. In Game 3, in addition to losing the game, he was charged by Don Zimmer in a brawl and ended up throwing Zimmer to the ground. The image of that incident, which even Zimmer admitted was his fault would follow him the rest of his career.

Going into the eighth inning of the seventh game of that series, after the Yankees had come back from a 3-0 deficit in games ahead 5-2, Grady Little left Martinez in the game and he gave up the tying runs that led to an 11 inning game won on Yankee Aaron Boone’s infamous home run off Tim Wakefield in the 11th.

After leaving the Sox, he spent four years with the Mets, winning 32 and losing 23, with a 3.88 ERA and was made a Free Agent at the end of the 2008 season. He was not signed as a Free Agent until the Phillies picked him up on July 15, 2009.

He signed a one year contract with the Phillies for one million dollars and went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA helping the Phils to the NL East pennant. In Game 2 of the Division Series, he pitched shut out ball for seven innings in a game the Phillies blew. In the World Series, against the Yankees, he started Game 3 and gave up just three runs in six plus innings but lost 3-1. In Game 6, he gave up four runs in four innings in the Yankees series clinching 7-3 win.

After the 2009 season, he retired, and his SABR biography quotes him as saying ‘ After achieving what I achieved in baseball, I felt like if I was going to go through all of that just to achieve a little more, I would rather not.’

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2015 and was perhaps the best right hander ever to pitch for the Red Sox.

On another subject:

Is there anyone out there who saw the Toronto Blue Jays’ center fielder Kevin Pillar’s amazing catch on Monday night to rob Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts of an extra base hit that does not realize that it has to be one of the greatest catches of all time? Does anyone need to have Statcast tell them that the ball was traveling at 100.1 miles per hour when it left the bat, that Pillar was traveling at 29.8 feet per second when he left the ground, that he covered 82 feet in 4.6 seconds to get to the ball or that the ‘catch probability’ was 38%?

Do we need that information to appreciate that Pillar has the ability to get to balls like this and make spectacular, seemingly impossible, Superman-like catches, time after time? Can’t we just enjoy it and wonder how this incredibly gifted outfielder does it without trying to analyze it to death?

I saw Kevin Pillar race to his left in pursuit of a seemingly uncatchable ball, leap high in the air from a dead run, without regard for his own safety, extend his body and arm as far as he could and snatch the ball out of the sky before crashing to the ground and banging his head against the wall while still holding onto the ball. I have seen it over and over and over and can’t see it enough times.

I don’t care how far he ran, how fast he leaped or whether the ball was catchable. I do know that he made one of the most spectacular catches of the year, perhaps one of the best in baseball history, and all the statistics in the world will not add to or detract from the entertainment value and awe provided by that moment in time. Why can’t they just let us enjoy it?

THE SUN IS SHINING IN RED SOX NATION

After beating the Yankees 4-1 last night to move back to 5½ games ahead in the American League East, the Red Sox had won 76 and lost 58 with 28 games to play. Things are looking good for the Sox at this point as they are coming home after the Yankee series for a nine game stretch against the Blue Jays, Rays and Athletics, three of the weaker teams in the American League, in friendly Fenway.

The Sox have won three World Championships this year and look to have at least a fairly good chance to make it four this year. Of course, in order to do so they will have to get by some pretty strong opposition, particularly the Dodgers and Astros, who are running away with their divisions.

As good as things look for the Sox at this point, it is interesting to note that the Red Sox record after the first 134 games of the season in worse than it was in all of their previous World Series winning seasons this century but they are in a better position in the standings now than they were in any of those years.

In 2004, when they brought their fans their first win in 86 years, they were 80-54 after 134 games but trailed the first place Yankees by 2½ games. In 2007, they were 80-54 but were in first place by five games over the second place Yankees. In 2013, they were 79-55 and were in first place over the second place Tampa Bay Rays by 2½ games.

With a 5½ game lead and just 28 games to play and with the schedule in their favor the rest of the way, they have a great shot at the American League East crown. Of course, they still have to get by the Yankees and continue to play as they have the last five games foe the rest of the season but things look good in Red Sox nation right now.

With the Cubs in first place in the National League Central by 3½ games at this point, my prediction of a World Series played in Fenway Park and Wrigley Field is looking better every day.

THE IMPACT OF DEVERS AND NUNEZ

On July 25th, the Red Sox were in first place, two games ahead of the second place New York Yankees and 3½ games ahead of the third place Tampa Bay Rays.

They played the Seattle Mariners that night in Safeco Field. The ninth batter in the Red Sox lineup that night, playing at third base, in his first big league game, was 20 year old rookie Rafael Devers. Devers would go 0-4 in that game which the Sox lost in the 13th inning, 6-5.

In his first at bat, in the third inning, he flied out to center, and, in his last at bat, in the 13th inning, with the Sox up 5-4, and runners on first and second, he flied to center again, to end the inning and the rally. Seattle, of course, came back with two in the last of the 13th for the win. Devers was 0-4 in the game, with two walks and a run scored. He also hit into an inning ending double play in the 7th inning.

Three days later, on July 28, the Red Sox were playing the Kansas City Royals at home. Eduardo Nunez, who the Red Sox had just picked up from the San Fracisco Giants, was the designated hitter, batting second, in his first game with the Red Sox.

In his first at bat as a member of the Red Sox, Nunez walked but was stranded on base. In his second at bat, in the third inning, he singled off the glove of third baseman Mike Moustakos. In his third at bat, with the Sox trailing 4-1, he singled to right, and, in his last at bat, he grounded out to short to start the ninth inning in the Red Sox 4-2 defeat.

The Sox had debuted two new players in three days, both of whom they expected to help solve their two biggest problems, third base and a lack of power hitting.

On the 28th of July after losing to Kansas City, in Nunez’s first game, the Sox were in second place, one half game behind the first place Yankees. With Devers and Nunez in the lineup almost every day from that day through August 14th, (last Monday), the Sox won 11 games and lost just three and moved into first place by 4 ½ games over the Yankees.

Devers and Nunez weren’t responsible for all the success of the team during that period but they certainly contributed to it. One of them didn’t get the game winning hit or score the game winning run on somebody else’s hit every day but they were out there doing there job and helping fill those two gaps..

The ‘experts ‘ have always talked about a winning team having ‘chemistry’ that makes them a better team than others. I have always thought that this theory puts the cart before the horse. It is my feeling that winning makes chemistry, not the other way around. A winning team develops the attitude, enthusiasm and enjoyment that people identify as ‘chemistry’. A winning team has fun because it is winning, it doesn’t win because it is having fun. As anyone who has played any of the major sports will tell you, winning may not be everything but it is always more fun to win than to lose.

Imagine the effect adding two of the BEST offensive players in baseball to a team’s lineup can have on the rest of the people in that lineup. Before you question me about where I get off insinuating that Devers and Nunez are two of the BEST offensive players in baseball read what follows.

Baseball, as Lou Piniella once said ‘ is a results driven industry ‘ and, as in any results driven industry, the key question to be answered is ‘What have you done for me today? ‘

In the games from July 24th until August 14th, Devers hit .339, with 21 hits in 62 at bats, six homers and 12 RBI’s, in 16 games. In Nunez’s first 15 games, he hit .382, with 26 hits in 68 at bats, four homers and 12 RBI’s. If they were to play 150 games of a 162 game season, producing at that rate, Devers would get 197 hits, including 56 homers and 113 RBI’s and Nunez would get 260 hits, 40 homers and 120 RBI’s.

Can these two continue to play as they have for the rest of the season? Common sense would tell you that the answer has to be no. Did they jump start this team and make it play better than it had been before? In the 14 games before July 28th, the Red Sox won five and lost nine to fall out of first place. In the 14 games from July 28th until August 14th, they won 11 and lost three and moved back into first place by their biggest margin of the year. You can draw your own conclusions from there.

I, for one, will never cease to be amazed at the mysteries of baseball. What makes a 30 year old player, like Nunez, who had hit .273 for his 1,697 at bat career, suddenly hit .382 for a 15 game period? What makes that same player, who has averaged one home run for every 50 of those at bats and one RBI for every nine at bats, suddenly average one homer for every 17 at bats and one RBI for every 5.7 at bats?

What makes a 20 year old rookie, who averaged one homer for every 32 at bats in the Minor Leagues, average one every 10.2 at bats against Major League pitching?

The unpredictability and competitiveness of baseball are only two of the factors that make baseball exciting for the fans. It is the only major sport where the winners rarely win more than 60 per cent of the games played and one of the results of that is that a couple of players putting together a hot streak at the same time can change the course of a pennant race as these two have here.

Whatever happens for the rest of this season, whether the Red Sox go all the way and win it all or end up in last place or something in between, these two newcomers, born in the Dominican Republic almost ten years apart, one a seasoned veteran and one a baby faced kid, have had a positive effect on this Red Sox team for their first few weeks and made Red Sox Nation a happier place to be. Let’s hope the Sox keep making their own chemistry.