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Thoughts on the Red Sox' opener

Friday 3/31/23

Yesterday, having completed--though I must read it back a number of times--an excellent 4500 word essay called "This is Joy," with the sub-head of "The value of a power rarely tapped and understood in modern life and literature," finished two short stories ("Laws Vary," "Just Because Something Makes You Uncomfortable"), and worked on a piece about the Beatles and the Big Three for Just Like Them: A Piece by Piece Guide to Becoming the Ultimate Thinking Person's Beatles Fan, I walked a quick three miles, did my 100 push-ups (there was a school group at the Monument, so I didn't climb), and then watched some Red Sox Opening Day baseball.


I wish I had not.


You don't want to be negative. People are so full of negativity and loathing these days. To so much as look at someone else's comments on a computer screen is to view a form of digital bile. But what I saw was also what I saw. Nine walks from an MLB team. Two wild pitches. A hit batsman. Two home runs served up. The game was not as close as the final score of 10-9 suggests. Having said that, if players like Rafael Devers had given you a half decent at-bat in the bottom of the ninth--or just a competitive at-bat--the outcome could have been different, but that wouldn't mask anything for anyone who actually saw the game.


It didn't take long to be at least low-grade disgusted.


Corey Kluber: This is not going to work. You run out this soft-tossing, end-of-career, now-journeyman on Opening Day? He should be your number five guy in an MLB rotation. Maybe four. But he's the guy? He starts your season? You have a giant wall out there in left field. Might as well just start putting the writing on it: This is a bad team.


But before that, one was treated to a display by fake tough guy, Chris Sale, the single phoniest athlete in the history of Boston sports. Here we have a grown man who cannot take the mound for a game like this, because it's his birthday, and that, coupled with it being Opening Day, makes for too much pressure for this useless poseur being paid thirty million dollars a year to scarcely contribute more to the team than I do.


But Sale managed to get himself that "Look how tough I am!" attention he loves by participating in pregame ceremonial activities in a short-sleeve shirt despite the temperature being in the upper thirties. Wow. What a tough guy. Look, it's Nanook of the North. He probably gave himself pneumonia. Or a case of the sniffles, which will cause him to miss a month. I find him repulsive. His whole act. There's no other way to put it.


Then we have Ryan Brasier. How Ryan Brasier remains in the Big Leagues is baffling to me. He essentially gets to the Show in his age thirty season. He was pretty good in 2018. That was five years ago. Last year, he was dreadful. But Alex Cora is more loyal to Ryan Brasier--he loves Brasier--than I can remember any Red Sox manager being to any other pitcher.


Brasier came in and gave the game away--for the most part--early. He Brasiered it in typical Brasier fashion. Honestly, how is this mid-thirties pedestrian--that's being generous--reliever a trusted guy? Clearly Cora depends on him, treats him like he's this stabilizer, your classic dependable pro, a "gamer."


As for Alex Cora: He is also not going to work. This team needs to move on from ownership by having ownership move on from itself, Chaim Bloom, Alex Cora. Just like the Patriots need to sweep out their own house and start again. Alex Cora is a man who lives in 2018. He's like that middle aged guy who is still talking about senior year of high school. Those were the days, my friend, I thought they'd never end, etc.


Why are you still bringing up 2018? Does he even want the job? If he had managed worth a damn yesterday, the Red Sox--because the Orioles themselves were pretty terrible--win that game. If he gave you anything in his role. Not that this would matter. It's just papering over holes in the boat. She's not a very sailable craft.


Then we come to Alex Verdugo. In the bottom of the ninth, he was on second, the third baseman had a tricky play with a long throw, and when that play was over, Verdugo was still standing there on second. One talks about hockey sense. There is also baseball sense, to a degree. Verdugo does not have any of that. He's one of your better players.


I know he did some games last year so it wasn't like no one had heard him before, but given that people will be hearing him more often, I'll say that Kevin Youkilis is fine in the booth. He's whatever. He's not good, he's not bad. He's not a "perk" to watching, or a reason to. I mention that because I think this team is going to be a bad team. In the past, you could listen because of Dennis Eckersley. Going back, one could listen because of Ned Martin or Fred Cusick with the Bruins. Mike Gorman is that way now with the Celtics, but his workload has been basically cut in half.


The pitch clock is big for baseball was my other takeaway. For the first time in a long time, the game does not resemble a limping bog turtle. Yes, I understand this particular game took over three hours, but that's how it goes with lots of walks and runs.


One will say, "It's just one game!" Yes. And who knows what a team will be, really, until you see more. But what I saw yesterday was what I expected and feared I'd see.


I don't like the Devers signing at all either. They gave him all of that money and term because they had screwed up so many other things and it was a face-saving gesture with the fans (who were already booing yesterday, in Game 1 of 81 at the old ball yard). That's neither good business nor a recipe for winning and winning over a period of time. His ninth inning at-bat was garbage. He had no plan, his head wasn't in the game, he just went up there doing a big old, "Whatever, I'll take some hacks." It's like he wasn't even paying attention to how that pitcher was going. Because that guy was ready to be beat, if you focused and had another good at-bat or two.



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