With last night’s abject failure of the Boston bullpen to hold a 3 run lead at home fully covered elsewhere (Jeff Horrigan in the Herald, the CHB in the Globe), we’ll instead turn out attention to what could well be a make-or-break contest for the Red Sox’s dwindling post-season hopes.
The Yankees have just tied today’s game at 4 on Alex Rodriguez’ 5th inning double. Earlier, Manny Ramirez (above) erased a 3-0 New York lead with a 3-run blast onto Landsdowne Street off Randy Johnson, who’d held Boston hitless over the first 3 innings. On an afternoon in which both manager must be praying their starters can go deep, neither Johnson nor Blisters Beckett are coming up big.
Where the latter is concerned, I still think the Reebok glove is as big, if not bigger an aesthetic crime as the scroatee.
In the bottom of the third, Jorge Posada was called out when a ball he clearly chopped behind the plate bounced up and struck him in the helmet. Tim McCarver praised umpire John Hirshbeck for the call, then proceeded to show a replay the following inning, meant to illustrate that Posada “was in the baseline” when the ball made contact. Trouble is, the overhead view that Fox provided showed no such thing — if anything, it looked as if Posada was still within the batter’s box when he was hit, and his stride only carried him beyond the box after the call was made.
Unlike some segments of the public, I’m not a crazed McCarver hater. I have mostly found memories of his tenure working Mets games in the 1980’s, and still maintain he was under utilized in the first “Naked Gun” movie. But I don’t see the purpose in explaining a controversial call if the video evidence doesn’t back it up.
With yesterday’s doubleheader debacle firmly in mind, the Boston Herald’s Tony Massaroti accuses Boston ownership and management of writing off 2006 before the season began.
Given the moves (or non-moves) the Sox have made this season, we now have to wonder whether everyone from owner John Henry to general manager Theo Epstein really expected, or wanted, to win this year. The simple truth is that the Sox invested more in 2007 (and beyond) than they have in 2006, which will be just fine if future Sox teams are as good as Henry and Epstein think.
But this team, this year? Please. Sox officials have done virtually nothing to help it.
When the club traded Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena in spring training, they did it with next year in mind. Acquisitions Jason Johnson and Kyle Snyder, the first two pitchers to face the Yankees in this epic series, were castoffs from wretched pitching staffs in Cleveland and Kansas City. The Sox™ idea of a bullpen pickup at the trading deadline was Bryan Corey, whom was since assigned to the minors.
Even Eric Hinske, who made an impressive Sox debut yesterday afternoon, seems to be a move made for 2007. Hinske is under contract for next season. Trot Nixon is not. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the Sox would not have made the deal if Hinske were eligible for free agency.
Though the Arroyo-for-Pena deal hasn’t turned out in Boston’s favor (and Johnny Damon is having a stellar campaign, as the Times’ Harvey Aarton is quick to remind), how does Massarotti reconcile his stance with the trade that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Fenway? Beckett was meant to step in and be the club’s no. 2 starter straight away, not 2 or 3 years down the line. There’s no way the Red Sox would’ve taken on Lowell’s salary and given up Anibal Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez if the intent wasn’t to compete in 2006. Whether or not that was a wise move is another matter, but I suspect Boston headed north in April with the expectation this team could win the the division. Epstein’s inability to mend the ‘pen this summer is worthy of debate, sure, but Boston wouldn’t have been trading Ramirez or Kelly Shoppach if this was all about 2007 or ’08.