Tag Archives: RED SOX

THE BEST TEAM EVER?

Were the 2018 Boston Red Sox ‘the Best team ever to walk the planet’ as Chris Sale said in August, or were they just another really good team?

They won 108 games in the regular season and defeated a Yankee team that had won 100 games in the ALDS, three games to one, easily. They defeated the Astros, who were the defending World Series Champions and had won 103 games in the ALCS, four games to one, easily. They beat the Dodgers, who had won the National League pennant, in the World Series, four games to one, easily, and would have swept them had not the turf given way under Kinsler’s foot in the13th inning of Game 3.

As a team, they had the highest batting average in baseball, at .268, the most runs scored, 876, only five teams gave up less than the 647 they gave up, the most doubles, 355, the best on base percentage, .339, the best slugging percentage, .453, the highest OPS, .792, the third most stolen bases, 125, and were at or near the top in most other offensive categories.

There is an old adage in baseball that every team, no matter how good, has at least one slump every year, this year’s Red Sox were the only team in baseball that never lost more than three games in succession all year.

In Interleague Play, they won 16 and lost 4 against National League opponents, the best Interleague record in baseball.

They had everybody’s Most Valuable Player in Mookie Betts, who led the league in batting average at .346, runs scored with 129, slugging percentage at .640, extra base hits, 84, and was the first player in baseball history to win the batting title and join the 30-30 club with 32 home runs and 30 stolen bases in the same year. He also won a Gold Glove as the best fielding right fielder and a silver slugger as one of the three best hitting outfielders.

They had J. D. Martinez, who finished fourth in the MVP voting, but most experts felt should have been second behind Betts. He led all of baseball in runs batted in, with 130, in total bases with 358, finished second in the batting average race, .330, and second in home runs, 43, and came that close to winning the Triple Crown, which has been done only once in the last fifty years. He also won the Silver Slugger as an outfielder and as a designated hitter, the first person in baseball history to win the award at two positions in one year, and the Hank Aaron Award as the best hitter in the League.

They also had Chris Sale who, despite missing most of August and September with a shoulder problem still won 12 and lost 4 with a 2.11 earned run average and managed to strike out 237, sixth best in baseball. Rick Porcello won 17 and lost just 7, David Price was 16-7 and Eduardo Rodriguez who also missed a lot of the season with injuries, was 13-5. Their Closer Craig Kimbrel saved 42 games in 47 opportunities with a 2.74 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 62 innings.

The bull pen won 40 games, third best in the league and had the least losses, at 16. They had the fourth best ERA in the league at 3.72 and the third most strikeouts at 628.

Jackie Bradley, Jr., won a Gold Glove in the outfield as did Ian Kinsler at second base. Bradley also had the highest success rate in stealing bases in all of baseball at 94.44%. Andrew Benintendi was tied for first in the league in outfield assists with 12.

Their shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, had an outstanding year at the plate and in the field, hitting .288 with 23 homers and 103 runs batted in while left fielder, Benintendi, hit .290 with 16 homers and 87 runs batted in.

Their depth was an important part of this season. They had 15 position players who had 100 or more at bats and 12 who played in over 80 games. In addition, eight players hit 10 or more home runs and there were 10 grand slam homers hit during the year

Manager Alex Cora, who led the team to its fourth World Series win of the century, and its highest win total in history, 108, finished second in the American League Manager of the Year voting.

They did all this without their leader, Dustin Pedroia who spent almost the entire year recuperating from knee surgery. It is expected that he will be back at full strength to lead the 2019 Sox.

There is no question that the 2018 Red Sox were the best team to play the game that year. Were they the best team ever? That seems a question that no one would ever be able to measure accurately enough to give a definitive answer.

They have been compared with the Yankees of Murderer’s Row, the Reds’ Big Red Machine, and many others, including the 2004 Red Sox.

There is no question that the players of 2018 are bigger, faster, better conditioned and throw harder than the players of a century or even a decade ago. The players have evolved over time like every species of animal does but each eras players played against similarly equipped players.

Trying to compare players or teams from different eras is like the proverbial comparison of apples and oranges.

The game is still played on the same size diamond, with 90 foot base paths, there are still three outs to an inning, nine innings to a game and the team with the most runs still wins but the players and the equipment they use to get ready and play the game are different.

The only realistic comparison we are able to make accurately is in the area of statistics and, in that area, this team was at least one of the best.

The bottom line is, we will never know if it was the best team ever but anybody who saw them play can testify to the fact that this was as exciting, motivated and talented a team that has played in Fenway Park, or any park for that matter, in a long time.

That should be sufficient for any baseball fan. I know that I feel fortunate to have watched this team do their thing and, whether they were the best team ever or not, they gave me a season for the ages, and that is enough for me.

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THE MAN BEHIND THE SOX INFIELD

As the Red Sox enter the second month of the season, I thought it appropriate to recognize the role played by a native Mainer in their success.

Before the season started, people had questions about the ability of the pitching staff, both starting and relief, and whether it would perform better than last year with the additions of David Price, Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith.

The next big questions Sox fans had revolved around Hanley Ramirez, who the Red Sox had paid a small fortune to and turned into the worst left fielder in baseball last year and were planning to make a first baseman out of this year and what would happen at third base now that Pablo Sandoval, who had also gotten a small fortune to play third base, and had turned out to be a flop last year and showed up at Spring Training out of shape and bigger than ever.

Nobody thought that one month into the season, Ramirez would be playing first base like he’d been there all his life and that, before Sandoval went on the disabled list with an injured shoulder and/or pride, that young first baseman Travis Shaw would be playing third base like a veteran and hitting the cover off the ball.

Ramirez, who couldn’t be bothered to try to learn to play left field last year, worked every day in Spring Training to develop the skills to allow him to play a position which, according to Baseball Reference, he had never played at any level in the minors or majors.

Shaw had started a total of just 59 games at third base in his five year minor league career while starting 335 at first base. Last year, after coming up to the Sox late in the season, he played only eight games at third, 55 at first and one in left field.

What is the one thing that these two, who have been important cogs in the Red Sox defense so far, have in common? The answer is Brian Butterfield, the Red Sox, 58 year old third base coach, who also doubles as the infield instructor and base running coach. Butterfield is one of the most respected infield coaches in all of baseball. He has worked tirelessly with Ramirez since he arrived at Spring Training hitting literally thousands of ground balls and imparting his special brand of wisdom.

Butterfield was an infielder himself, a second baseman who played five seasons in the minor leagues in the Yankees system but never made the big leagues. He started at Oneonta in the New York/Pennsylvania League in low A ball in 1979 and worked his way up to AAA with the Nashville Sound in the International League in 1982, where he hit .238 in 71 games. The next year, he was back with Miami in the Class A Florida League and that was the end of his playing career.

Butter, as he is affectionately known around baseball, was born in Bangor, Maine, on March 9, 1958. His father, Jack, was the University of Maine baseball coach from 1957 to 1974 and also served as Vice President for Player Development and Scouting for the New York Yankees from 1977-1979.

After attending Maine briefly, Butterfield got his B. A. from Florida Southern in 1980 while playing in the minors and filling in as an Assistant Coach at Southern and then at Eckerd College.

After his playing career, he served in various positions in the Yankee system including as roving infield instructor at different levels throughout the organization. In 1988, he was named Gulf Coast League Manager of the Year after leading his Sarasota team to the league title.

He managed at different levels in the minors and in 1994 and 1995 he was Buck Showalter’s first base coach with the Yankees and, coincidentally, a player who turned out to be a pretty good infielder, Derek Jeter, came up with the Yankees at that time.

He left the Yankees to go to the new franchise Arizona Cardinals in 1996 and helped get the franchise ready to begin play in 1998 when he became third base coach. He managed the Tampa Bay Yankees in the Florida State League to a share of that league’s title in 2001 and started the following season as the Manager of the Columbus Clippers in the AAA International League. After a bad start, he was fired on May 6 and, less than a month later, was hired as third base coach with the Toronto Blue Jays.

He was with Toronto until 2013, serving as Bench Coach in 2008 and 2009 and going back to third base coach in 2010. In 2010, when Toronto hired John Farrell as Manager, Butterfield had been a finalist for that position. When Farrell left to go to Boston as Manager in 2013, Butterfield was again a finalist for the position but when John Gibbons was hired for the job, Butter went to Boston with Farrell as third base coach and infield instructor.

He is in his 37th year in professional baseball and his 20th as a Coach at the Major League level. He was elected to the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.

If the Red Sox should go all the way this year, much of the credit should go to this Maine native who solved their corner infield problems and may very well have saved Hanley Ramirez’s career in baseball. Whatever happens with the Red Sox team, watching the Red Sox defense, particularly the corner infielders, from the dug out this year must be providing some of Butterfield’s proudest moments in a long and productive career.

THE NEW HANLEY RAMIREZ

009Any resemblance between the Hanley Ramirez that played left field for the Red Sox last year and the one that is playing first base this year is purely coincidental.

The Hanley Ramirez that played left field, and I use the term ‘played’ loosely, couldn’t field, had no interest in learning to play the position, could only hit occasionally, never seemed to be trying very hard, seemed to have little interest in the game while it was going on and generally looked like a player past his prime who had a BIG, GUARANTEED contract and was just going to play out the rest of his contract without exerting too much effort.

The Hanley Ramirez playing first base worked his butt off in spring training to learn a new position, has been doing a more than credible job of playing it, is hitting like the younger Hanley Ramirez and looks comfortable at the plate, runs the bases like his run is the game winner, has twice hustled to stretch a single into a double, ( once successfully, once not ), is at the top of the dugout steps to congratulate other players and, in general is acting like a winner on a team that has the ability to be a winner.

What caused this miracle turnaround? Is it because he is playing with a team of young players who believe in themselves and are playing the game the way it should be played, like it’s fun? Is it because he has always thought of himself as an infielder and, like most infielders views outfielders as people who are there because they can’t play the infield?

I have my own theory, based upon nothing but my own inexpert observations. It goes like this. Do you remember Carl Crawford? The Sox got Carl Crawford from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011. He had hit .305 there in 2009 and .310 in 2010 and was a better than average fielder. In his only full year playing with the Sox he hit .211 and played left field like he’d never had a glove on before. In 2013, his first full season after going to the Dodgers, he hit .283.

The Sox got Hanley Ramirez from the Dodgers in 2015. In 2014, he had hit

.283 with the Dodgers as an infielder. In 2015, he hit .249 with the Red Sox and was considered the worst left fielder in all of baseball.

What’s the common denominator here? Both fell apart when exposed to left field in Fenway Park. How would if affect you if you were an outfielder playing in normal sized and shaped outfields or an infielder not used to the outfield if all of a sudden you found yourself playing right behind the shortstop with a 37 foot wall right behind you?

They both were victims of what I call Green Monster Syndrome. The stress of being thrust into the black hole between short stop and the wall in Fenway affects different people differently. If the Sox had put either Crawford or Ramirez in right field instead of left, both stories might have been different.

Whatever the reason for Hanley’s problems last year, I like the Hanley Ramirez that is playing first base now. He is a positive force on this Red Sox team and may be the veteran leader that this team needs to make the difference between worst and first.

FROM WORST TO FIRST, PART II

A. Bartlett Giamatti, the seventh Commissioner of Baseball, once said ‘ Baseball is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the Spring, when everything is new again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.’

With a young, talented group of players, most of who should be with them for several years, the Red Sox have the potential to go all the way in 2016. Boston baseball fans are a strange lot. The team has finished last in three of the past four years but the typical Boston fan expects nothing less than a World Series win in 2016 from this group.

If they go all the way, Boston fans will be ecstatic but, should they fail because they are not as good as we think they are, the fans will be left to face the fall and winter alone, as they did this year.

The acquisition of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval over the 2014-2015 off season, which was expected to give the Sox a lot more power, obviously did not work. In addition to failing to fulfill their promise at the plate, both made the worst fielding team, the Brick Glove Award, as selected by Nick Selbe in the on line Journal ‘Point After’ based upon their fielding statistics. If you watched them both play all year, you didn’t need a complicated formula to tell that they had to be among the worst at their positions.

Selbe pointed out that ‘ Some of the players on this list are good enough offensively to compensate for their defensive shortcomings, while others would be wise to spend the off season learning a new position.’ The Sox are planning to make Ramirez into a first baseman. If he doesn’t work any harder at becoming a first baseman than he did a left fielder, he will probably get a second Brick Glove Award. The Sox would do well to find a way to unload both these veterans even if they have to absorb some of their salaries to do so.

So, what will 2016’s version of the Red Sox look like and why am I so high on their chances to get to their fourth World Series in 13 years? Although pitching is the name of the game, the Red Sox position players, who, barring trades, are all coming back in 2016, made a statement during the last 48 games of the season, finishing 28-20.

Blake Swihart, 24, behind the plate, had an excellent rookie season, catching 84 games after the loss of Christian Vazquez to elbow surgery. He hit .274, with five homers and 31 RBI’s for the season but .330 with 34 hits in 103 at bats in the last 48 games under Lovullo. He has the added advantage of being a switch hitter.

Ryan Hanigan, 35, the other catcher, hit .247 in 54 games. If Vazquez returns ready to play in the Spring, watch for the Sox to trade Hanigan and keep Swihart to share the duties with Vazquez. Vazquez, 25, hit .240 in 55 games in 2014, his rookie season.
Travis Shaw, 25, who hit .270, with 13 homers and 36 RBI’s in just 65 games after being installed at first base during the season will give Ramirez some competition at first if he is back. Ramirez, of course, hit only .249, with 19 homers and 53 RBI’s in 105 games in left field. Shaw also has the advantage of being a more than adequate third baseman. Shaw hit .266 in the last 48 games with 50 hits.

Thirty-two year old Dustin Pedroia will be the second baseman, barring injury. He only played in 93 games this year while dealing with a hamstring injury but is still, arguably, the best all around second baseman in the league, if not all of baseball. He hit .291 with 12 homers and 42 RBI’s including hitting .308 in the last 48 games.

Xander Bogaerts, 23, had a breakout year at short in 2015. He proved that he can play the position defensively and he hit .320, the second highest average in the league. He had 196 hits, also the second highest in the league, seven homers and 81 RBI’s while playing 156 games. During the last 48 games, he hit .333 with 64 hits in 192 at bats.

Brock Holt, 27, could play third if Sandoval were traded but probably has more value as a utility player. He has proven he can play any position in the field defensively and continues to hit consistently no matter how much he is moved around. He hit .280 for the season in 129 games and .288 in the last 48 games.

The left fielder, Rusney Castillo, 28, played in 80 games after being brought up in late May and hit .253 with 29 RBI’s. In his first year in organized baseball in this country, after coming over from Cuba, he has shown the potential expected of him.

Jackie Bradley, 25, the center fielder, hit .249 for the season with 10 homers and 53 RBI’s in 74 games. During the last 48 games, he hit .283. In a streak from August 9 through September 9, he hit .442, had 13 doubles, 4 triples, 7 home runs and 32 RBI’s. In the last 48 games of the season, he hit .283.

The right fielder, Mookie Betts, 23, hit .291 with 18 homers and an impressive 77 RBI’s batting out of the lead off spot in 117 of his 145 games. Betts, who was playing second base for Portland at the start of the 2014 season, has successfully made the move to center field and then to right field. In the last 48 games of the season, he hit .342 with 68 hits in 199 at bats.

The designated hitter, David Ortiz, 39, after a slow start, hit .273 with 37 home runs and 108 RBI’s. He also played nine games at first base and handled all but one chance cleanly. During the last 48 games of the season, Ortiz hit .319.

One of the reasons people are so high on the Red Sox chances next year is because the eight position players, Swihart, Shaw, Pedroia, Bogaerts, Holt, Castillo, Bradley and Betts and the designated hitter Ortiz, hit a collective .313 over the last 48 games of the season. The average age of these nine players, even with Ortiz at 39 and Pedroia at 32, is just 27.3 years.

RED SOX WORLD SERIES STREAKS

One hundred years ago this month, in October of 1916, the Boston Red Sox were in the middle of a seven year period in which they won four pennants and four World Series Championships, the only four they would win until 2004. They won in 1912, 1915, 1916 and 1918.

When they next won the Series, in 2004, it kicked off a ten year period when they would win three World Series Championships in ten years after a drought of 86 years.

In the intervening years, the Sox got to the World Series four times and lost all four times, four games to three. In 1946, after finishing seventh of eight teams in 1945, the Sox won the pennant and lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1967, after finishing ninth of ten teams in 1966, the Sox won the pennant and lost the World Series to the Cardinals again.

In 1975, after finishing third of six teams in 1974, the Sox won the pennant and lost the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. In 1986, after finishing fifth of seven teams in 1985, the Sox won the pennant and lost the World Series to the New York Mets.

In their 108 year history as the Red Sox, they have been in eleven World Series. They won the first four appearances in a row, lost the next four appearances in a row and have now won the next three appearances in a row.

Prior to the streak from 1912 to 1918, playing as the Boston Americans, the team had won the first World Series, in 1903, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates, five games to three. They adopted the name Red Sox in 1908 and in the four years before their first World Series as the Red Sox, never finished higher than third, finishing fifth of eight, 24 games behind, in 1911 before winning their first World Series the next year.

The Sox have a history of streaks when it comes to the World Series. They appeared in four World Series in seven years, from 1912 to 1918, winning all four times, in their first streak. In their next four appearances, although it took 86 years to complete, they lost all four times, taking their opponent to seven games each time. In their next three appearances, they won all three times.

A World Series win in 2016 would complete the third streak, giving them four wins in four appearances over 13 years. As Red Sox fans watch two other teams play in the World Series starting Tuesday, many will be day dreaming about just such a possibility after the 2015 season ended with what I call the Miracle of Yawkey Way.

The Sox have a history of success in years following disappointing years. Whether they can pull off another Worst to First scenario in 2016 is something we will have to wait to find out but don’t bet against it at this point.

RED SOX PLAYERS FOUND GREENER PASTURES

In case you are a Red Sox fan and missed it, last night’s National League opening Division Playoff game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs featured ex- Red Sox pitchers John Lackey and Jon Lester in a classic pitcher’s duel for 7 1/3 innings. Lackey went 7 1/3 innings for the Cardinals and shut out the Cubs on just two hits, leaving ahead 1-0 and getting the win. Lester held the Cards to just one over 7 1/3 innings before giving up two with one out in the eighth and got the loss. Both were traded at the trade deadline last year when the Red Sox were wallowing in the cellar and unloading most of their pitching staff.

Lackey went to St. Louis and has been in the Playoffs both years since and Lester went to Oakland and signed with Chicago as a Free Agent this year. Lackey was 13-10 with a 2.77 ERA and pitched 218 innings in 33 starts this year. Lester was 11-12 with a 3.34 ERA in 32 starts and threw 205 innings. The Cardinals won Game number one but Lackey and Lester may face each other again in the fifth game if there is one.

Lackey and Lester are not the only Red Sox players who have been traded or lost over the last couple of years and have found greener pastures while the Sox have remained in the basement.

Andrew Miller, who was also traded at the trade deadline last year, went to Baltimore and this year signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees. With the Yankees, he became their closer and appeared in 60 games, saving 36 games in 38 tries and finishing with a 2.04 ERA and a remarkable 100 strikeouts in just 61 2/3 innings pitched. Of course the Yankees and Miller made the Post Season but were eliminated by Houston in The Wild Card playoff game. Jacoby Ellsbury, former Red Sox center fielder was an integral part of that Yankee team.

Jake Peavy, who was traded to the San Francisco Giants last year at the same time, was a member of and pitched in the World Series for the Giants’ World Series Championship team last year. He was 8-6 with a 3.58 ERA for the second place Giants this year.

Yoenis Cespedes, who came to the Sox in the trade for Jon Lester last year and was traded to the Detroit Tigers this year for Rick Porcello, was traded to the New York Mets during the season. He hit .291 with 35 homers and 105 RBI’s between the two teams and is in the Playoffs as a member of the Mets this fall. He batted third in Game 1, which the Mets won, and went 0-4 at the plate.

Mike Napoli, who was hitting .207 with the Sox before being traded to the Texas Rangers this year, played in 35 games for the Rangers and hit .295 with five homers and started Game one at first place for Texas in their Division Series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jonny Gomes, who was traded to Oakland with Lester last year, has since played for Atlanta and was traded to Kansas City late in the season and played only 12 games for them this year, hitting just .167 in limited playing time. He did not make the roster for the first round of the Playoffs against Houston being edged out of an outfield spot by speedster Terrence Gore but may make the roster if the Royals advance.

Rubby De La Rosa, who was traded to Arizona in the deal that brought Wade Miley to the Sox, had a 14-9 record, with a 4.67 ERA in 32 starts for the third place Diamondbacks and was an important part of their starting rotation.

Watching the two ex Red Sox starters duel last night must have made some Red Sox fans wonder what might have happened if the sell off had not occurred, especially since, after the additions of Justin Masterson, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Joe Kelly, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, the Sox still ended up with another lost season in last place.

As for myself, I think that the addition of Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens, with the turn around Porcello, Miley and Kelly experienced late in the season, combined with the solid team of position players that evolved over this season bodes well for the Red Sox in 2016.

All that is left for Dave Dombrowski, the new President of Baseball Operations, to do is work his magic and unload Ramirez and Sandoval, even if he has to absorb part of their salaries, for another quality starter and one or two relievers and Red Sox fans could enjoy another Worst to First dream come true.

In the meantime enjoy a playoff and World Series season that could be as exciting and competitive as any you have ever seen even if the Red Sox are not in it.

GOODBYE TO DON ORSILLO

Today is Don Orsillo’s last day behind the mike for the Red Sox. Orsillo has already found a new position with the San Diego Padres organization on their broadcast team and is reported to be replacing Dick Enberg as the voice of the Padres after Enberg’s retirement at the end of next year.

The Padres came looking for Orsillo not just because he was suddenly available but because he is a professional, talented broadcaster who has been the face of the Red Sox and will replace the man who has been the face of Padres Baseball.

Orsillo has been the play by play announcer for Red Sox baseball since 2001 and has been teamed with ex-Red Sox second baseman Jerry Remy since 2005. The two have become synonymous with Red Sox television on NESN and have become great favorites with Red Sox fans. In addition to his duties with NESN, Orsillo has been a member of the broadcast team for the MLB Division Series on TBS since 2007 and the voice of Providence College Men’s Basketball.

At Orsillo’s last game broadcasting from Fenway Park, the club showed a video honoring Orsillo for his years with the team and NESN did not show it but, instead, went to their regular commercials. Unfortunately for NESN, the fans in the ballpark began to chant Orsillo’s name after the video and NESN could not screen that demonstration of his popularity from the viewers.

NESN has bungled this matter from Day 1. They allowed the fact that Orsillo’s contract was not being renewed to be leaked before announcing it themselves and then tried to blame the termination on declining ratings. It is common knowledge that Red Sox ownership and management were behind his being let go.

What else could you expect from the group that brought you Bobby Valentine, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez and let Jon Lester get away? What else could you expect from the group that has taken Playoff teams and World Series Champions and turned them into last place teams almost overnight?

This is the group that fired Terry Francona after he had won 744 and lost just 552 games in eight years, brought them their first two World Series wins in 86 years and had won 90 games in the year they fired him. This is the group whose teams had won 121 and lost 155 between winning the World Series in 2013 before installing Torey Lovullo as Manager about the same time they let Orsillo’s firing leak.

Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy were a professional, entertaining team who provided a unique mix of expertise, enthusiasm and comedy that the Fenway Faithful grew to love. Although Remy has a year to go on his contract, no one doubts that he will be gone soon.

Dave O’Brien, who is taking Orsillo’s place, is a fine broadcaster who has been the play by play man for Red Sox radio since 2007. I am sure that he will do a great job taking Orsillo’s place. Unfortunately, I am also sure that the fans will get over the loss of and the shabby handling of Orsillo quickly and will find O’Brien interesting and informative as well.

The fact remains, there was no reason for this to have happened in the first place. Is there anyone who doesn’t realize that a last place team is not going to attract as much attention as a first place team and that the Red Sox had been a poor last place team for almost two years until Torey Lovullo came along?

In addition to the poor performance on the field, some of the things NESN has done to improve their ratings have been close to idiotic. Does anyone understand why they trumpet the fact that they are going to stay on the field between innings so you can see what goes on and then shows their commercial with tiny windows on the side that show you nothing but a couple of players moving around?

Why do they think that the fans want to see and hear an endless parade of ex- stars and Hall of Famers talk about the same thing every night? Do they really believe that those inane children’s shows that that they produce every week will improve their ratings? Do they really think that those Mobile opinion polls, where they ask questions like ‘Do you like your coffee hot or cold?’, are helping their ratings?

No, their ratings problems are not caused by Don Orsillo and/or Jerry Remy. The unfortunate thing is that this team they have put together, which closed the season looking like the best team in the American League, has the ability to go all the way next year and give the Red Sox their fourth World Series win of the century or at least be near the top of the Division.

When that happens, the ratings will go up, not because Don Orsillo is gone but because the fans love a winner. If the Sox win it all in 2016, Bobby Valentine, who, if it is possible, may have been a less effective broadcaster than he was a Manager, could be behind the mike and the ratings would go up. Red Sox management will come out of this mess smelling like a rose. This management groups record reminds me of the old saying, ‘ Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.’

So, next year at this time, the ratings will be up and everything will be wonderful in NESN land but it will never be the same as having Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy, NESN’s Odd Couple, in the booth, with their unique talent.