But how many players win an MVP while hitting just 19 home runs (other than a pitcher, of course)? Not that I am saying that Pedroia didn’t deserve the award. Hardly. I am pretty sure he would have been my first ballot selection if Major League Baseball allowed bloggers who intermittently write about baseball to vote instead of some not so bright Texas sportswriter. (At least the guy had the grace to publicly eat some crow.)
Pedroia is the type of old school player I loved to watch in my youth. Players like Larry Bowa or Roberto Clemente who would not have gotten as much attention in the until recently ended steroid era. With home run numbers having come back down to earth because it is harder to do steroids– and probably for other reasons as well, among them recent crops of good young pitching arms– players like Pedroia are as much, hopefully, the wave of the future instead of just a reminder for baseball of another era.
Besides hitting just 19 home runs, Pedroia also just batted .326. But this year that was still second in the league only to Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer (.328 B.A.).
So what else did Pedroia do except just being edged out as having the league’s highest batting average? He hit 54 doubles. He scored 118 runs. He won the gold glove at second base. He stole 20 bases– which is not that high a number. But he was only caught stealing once. Not only fans but baseball writers and even baseball GMs probably don’t consider the statistic of how many steals in comparison to how many times a player is caught stealing.
Would you rather have a player like Pedroia who stole 20 out of 21 or one who had stolen 39 bases but caught 16 times? Players like Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Beltran are perhaps slightly underrated because they steal a moderate number of bases but hardly ever get caught.
The selection of Dustin Pedroia hopefully is a symbol that the steroid era of baseball is over. No more 60 plus home run and even 70 plus home run seasons by players who cheated and one– like Barry Bonds who is under indictment for allegedly committing perjury for lying to a federal grand jury about his steroid use.
We can now enjoy the finesse and fudamentals and small things about baseball– the bunt single, the play made by the short stop deep in the hole– instead of just over sized home runs by players with over sized heads.
And maybe next year… for Joe Mauer!]]>
Ramirez will be a good pick up for the Marlins if they are able to get him– even if only a rental. (He would be a free agent after the end of the reason and it is doubtful that the Marlins would keep him both because of high salary and also because he would work much better as DH in the American League.) He would be a veteran among younger players, and would give the Marlins a fearsome offense hitting after Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla.
Good trade for everyone if it gets made.
Update: The trade has been done. The Red Sox got Jason Bay and unloaded Ramirez, but in the end the deal was done with the Dodgers. From the NYT:
The nasty divorce between Manny Ramírez and the Boston Red Sox is final and is finally here. The Red Sox separated themselves from the unhappy Ramírez by sending him to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday in an expensive three-way deal in which Boston netted Jason Bay from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In their eagerness to unload Ramírez, the Red Sox paid the $7 million left on his salary and shipped reliever Craig Hansen and outfielder Brandon Moss, two promising young players, to Pittsburgh. The Pirates also received the Class AAA third baseman Andy LaRoche and the Class A pitcher Bryan Morris from the Dodgers, who did not shed any of their elite young players to add the slugging Ramírez.
Fatigued by Ramírez’s petulance and concerned that his presence could damage them over the next two months, the Red Sox worked furiously to coordinate a trade that moved him to the other league and the opposite coast. They were adamant about jettisoning Ramírez, whom they perceived as deserting them when he sat out two games recently.
As Thursday’s 4 p.m. deadline approached, the Red Sox pushed to complete a three-team trade with the Florida Marlins and the Pirates, or the Dodgers and the Pirates. Bay, who will replace Ramírez in left field, is a talented hitter whose numbers this season are comparable to Ramírez’s, although he is not as intimidating or as established.
Dodgers Manager Joe Torre, who studied Ramírez from the Yankees’ dugout during so many dramatic games, called him “one of the four or five best hitters in baseball.”
To read the more, click here. My instant analysis: The Dodgers didn’t give up a lot in this three way trade, and this gives them a dominant power hitter for the run-up to the playoffs. Bay’s statistics are as good– in fact better than Ramirez’ this year. And Bay who will be 30 in September is still a youngster who brings defensive abilities and speed to the Sox– while allowing the Sox to move beyond all of Ramirez’ drama. The thing that might be gone though is the pure fear that Ramirez adds to any lineup. David Ortiz was getting a lot of better pitches to swing at with Ramirez batting behind him– even if pitchers were thinking of a Manny Ramirez from years past.
The Boston Herald’s Tony Massarotti is a great sports writer… in part because he agrees with me…
Even if the Sox are fortunate enough to reach the postseason this year, prepare now for the sight of David Ortiz [stats]
Here’s the thing: As much as Ramirez was a pain in the pillows, as much as he caused angst and disgust, you can’t help but get the feeling that the Red Sox ultimately caved in here. Ramirez got what he wanted. Ramirez kicked and screamed and made a sizable stink, and the Sox broke the way that Colin Farrell did in “The Recruit.”
Admittedly, none of us had the misfortune of dealing with Ramirez and his antics on a daily basis, and nobody knows the real trouble the Sox have seen. But as recently as Wednesday, there were indications that Sox owner John Henry was among those who wanted to keep Ramirez in Boston, who believed that the latest Manny storm would blow over the way that all of the others did, who believed Ramirez would go right back to doing the one thing he has unfailingly done – hit.
Does that mean Ramirez now is the same hitter he was three years ago, even two? Hardly. He isn’t. Yet the sight of Ramirez is still imposing enough that Angels manager Mike Scioscia recently walked him intentionally in the first inning of a game in Anaheim, a reminder that Ramirez still can change the game merely by stepping into the batter’s box.
dropping his bat and taking off his elbow guard, then walking down to first base.
To read Massarotti’s entire column click here.]]>
The rules are simple enough for the kids playing in the stickball tournament this morning in Kelly Park: There are to be three people to a team. There are four innings per game. Two outs per inning. You walk on three balls. You strike out on two strikes. The second strike can be a foul ball.
Any ground ball not stopped or caught is a single. If you hit the ball over the double court line without it being caught or stopped, you have hit a double. If you smack the ball hard off the fence, you have a triple. And if you hit the ball entirely over the fence, of course, you have hit a home run. If you hit a deep foul ball over the fence, it is unclear whether it is to be counted as a foul ball or home run. In that case, the final decision is left to the whim of a grown up or the good will of the opposing team.
If you are eleven years old, and get a chance to bat, there are traditions to maintain: You must wear an oversized Red Sox jersey with the name Papelbon on the back. (That is the Sox’s closer for those not literate in such things. In an earlier time your jersey would have had the name Garciappara on it.) You dramatically roll your head from side to side to get the hair out of the eyes. Then you check the stick to make sure you are hitting at the ball from the right end. (This is very important; however, you hope that nobody sees you doing this.) Then you dig hard into the pavement with your converse high tops, lean way way back on your heels, and then smack at the ball—eyes closed allowed—with all of your eleven year old might. Whether you hit the ball or not, all is right with the world.
You hope you hit the ball of course. But if you don’t, you still get to have your face painted, hang with the older kids, have a hot dog with anything you want it on it– and then if you are really, really lucky you get to sit on your big brother’s shoulder to watch the dedication of the square to an older boy in the neighborhood.
The corner of Cragie and Summer is to be renamed in dedication for another little boy who once played stick ball in this park. There are two honor guards, one of which will fire off live rounds, interrupting the morning quiet and send singing birds scattering. A representative of the mayor will say a few words.
This is the unveiling of the new street sign dedicating Spc. Nicholas Peters Square.
Nick served a tour of duty in Iraq and came home in one piece. He survived the war but not the peace. Stationed at Ft. Hood, in Texas, someone in a bar did not like the fact that he was wearing a Red Sox jersey, and killed him.
Days after his killing, his baseball coach would say: “I can still see a 6 year old Nick skating at the rink and at 8 years old hitting a baseball.” Nick’s little niece, her mother, Shanna, told me the morning of the stickball tournament, still sees Nick all the time. She declares to her mom: “Uncle is laughing at you!” One day while coloring, she nonchalantly orders: “Uncle! Color in the lines!”
Who is to tell her that she is wrong to believe that her uncle is still with her?
When Nick was buried in a flag draped coffin, he was not buried in his military uniform. He was proud of being a soldier, but did not want to be known or remembered only for being a soldier. It was duty and service for him. But he did not want to be singled out for it. When he was told that he could watch a New England Patriots game from the sidelines if he were to wear his uniform, he said he would much rather dress in his civilian clothes and watch from the stands, his sister Shanna told me.
He had told his family before he left for the war that he did not want to be buried in his military uniform but rather in his Red Sox jersey. Nobody gave it a second thought after his tour of duty was over. Who could have thought that he would be killed at home or for the way he was dressed?
The stickball tournament in not just in honor of Nick, but also his friend, David Martini, who played stickball and baseball and hockey with Nick, and who too has died too young. David was family to Nick’s family and vice versa. Shanna, Nick’s sister, wanted Nick’s day to be David’s too.
All together, four other boys who played stickball with Nicholas Peters in Kelly Park have died too young deaths—the result of senseless violence, suicide, or drug overdoses. Casualties of an invisible war at home like the one in Iraq that has also been disappearing from our media.
When I return home from Somerville to Washington D.C., I find out that my friend Brian has been shot on the street because apparently the two kids robbing him did not think he was willing to hand over his cell phone fast enough. Even though he is shot three times, he is alright—although with one less spleen.
Unable to sleep, I go online and watch over and over again Bobby Kennedy’s speech on the menace of violence in America which he gave on April 5, 1968: “The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old famous and unknown. They are most important of all human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one can be certain who suffer next from senseless act of violence. And yet it goes on and on and on…
“Whenever any American’s life is taken by another American unnecessarily… Whenever we tear a the fabric of he lives which some other man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children—whenever we do this—the nation is degraded.”
The next morning I have to go visit Brian in the hospital to see with my own eyes that Brian is all right. He smiles, banters with friends, nods off, and we are all reassured.
But what amazes everyone is that despite being shot three times, Brian ran quite an entire block and a half away to put some distance between him and the shooter before the police and EMTs could arrive. It makes no sense and perfect sense. He wanted to get to a safe place.
My thoughts return to that eleven year old kid playing in the stickball tournament. You want him to be safe. You think maybe you should have a heart to heart and tell him that when he gets older all that he has to do is not wear that Red Sox jersey certain places. If only it were that simple.
Below here is a video of Bobby Kennedy’s speech. Please watch and comment. And for more, here is a Huffington Post column.