Beckett battled, but didn't have 'best stuff'


Beckett battled, but didn't have 'best stuff'

BOSTON -- Josh Beckett didn't have his best stuff on Thursday night. And when your offense lets the opposing pitcher in Max Scherzer off the hook at the same time, it's awfully difficult to complete a four-game sweep against a lineup like that of the Detroit Tigers.
But that's exactly what the Red Sox failed to do on Thursday at Fenway Park, falling to the Tigers 7-3.
Beckett had only one strikeout in seven innings. And while he continued to battle, he saw some solid defense behind him that helped prevent him from allowing more than four runs on 10 hits
"He gave us a chance to win the game," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the loss. "I don't know that that was his best stuff. It seemed like he didn't have his curveball until the sixth inning. He made some pretty good pitches, and they hit a few of them for hits. He did a good job of keeping them at bay."
Beckett agreed with not having his curve ball in this one.
"I made some pitches when I needed to, and didn't make some other ones," said Beckett afterwards. "You have five pitches in a game that you have to make, and I think I made three of them today. The other two cost me three runs in one inning.
"I don't think I had my curve ball to put guys away. It was difficult for me to get the ball down."
Beckett wasn't awful for a guy that didn't have his best stuff, but on a night like that, you need some big defensive plays, and that's exactly what Ryan Sweeney provided in the top of the second inning to keep it a scoreless game at the time.
With runners on second and third and one out, Jhonny Peralta put a fly ball down the right field line, and Sweeney came charging in after it at an awkward angle because of the side wall. But he was able to make the catch and throw a seen into home, one-hopping the ball to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who then made the tag on Delmon Young.
"I thought he made a great adjustment to round it out to get behind the ball and throw it right down the line," said Valentine. "A good defensive play."
"I've always prided myself on my defense and making accurate throws to bases," said Sweeney. "So when I made that throw, I felt like I had a good shot of getting him."
But as good as that defensive play was and may have saved him a few more runs, a couple bad bounces on throws to second from Saltalamacchia turned out to be costly. And when your starting pitcher doesn't have his best stuff, those bad bounces aren't going to help anybody.
Except for the Tigers, who took advantage of the two throws that ended up in the outfield while stealing second, and eventually taking third.
The first came in the fifth inning, as Quentin Berry stole second. Saltalamacchia's throw was on target, but hit a diving Berry and shot out to left field, sending Berry to third, and eventually home on a Miguel Cabrera single that gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead and ended up being the game-winning run.
Saltalamacchia's other throw to second that ended up in the outfield came in the ninth inning, as Cabrera stole second. The throw ended up in center field, and Cabrera took third, only to score on a Prince Fielder triple to give the Tigers a 6-3 lead.
"The last one, Saltalamacchia didn't get a good grip on it, and Cabrera caught us all by surprise," said Valentine. "I think Mike Aviles was a little late getting there, and Saltalamacchia was a little late throwing. The first throw would've been right on the bag."
Beckett didn't have his best stuff, and those plays ended up costing the Red Sox.

Who cares if the Cubs are campy?

Who cares if the Cubs are campy?

Sports fans are dedicated. They watch round-the-clock coverage, read every word they can and refresh Twitter endlessly. 

This isn’t because they love sports -- maybe they do -- but because they love complaining. 

An estimated 90 percent of sports discussion is complaining. The coach is terrible, the star is overpaid and, because the team didn’t win, they Don’t Have What it Takes. 

There is such thing as actual sports discussion, but quite frankly it isn’t all that interesting to everyone. The average person doesn’t care about a team’s base defense, lefty-righty matchups or who’s playing the half-wall on the power play. 

So, they stick to complaining. As the Cubs take part in the World Series for the first time since 1945, here’s a complaint that’s resonated: There’s too much other stuff. 

They’re interviewing old people in the stands. FOX keeps showing Bill Murray. Eddie Vedder was in the clubhouse celebrating with the team. 

People are actually basing their rooting interest on this, and while the above video is one of the most genuinely funny clips I’ve ever seen, it might be the most sports-fan move in the history of sports-fan moves. 

Seriously, who the hell cares? 

Dooes the long-suffering Cubs fan love that junk? Probably not, but do you think they've spent even a second thinking about it? Of course not. It isn’t taking away from their experience because that long-suffering Cubs fan is spending every second between pitches stress-eating, stress-drinking or stress-whatever-else-ing. 

We know this, of course, because Boston went through this in 2004 and the years that followed. Red Sox Nation was every bit as campy as what you’re seeing in Chicago now, and if the Cubs can go on to win the World Series, I’m sure they’ll take any and all nonsense that comes with it. 

Red Sox fans did a decent job of handling this at first. They embraced the shots of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner at the 2004 World Series and didn’t throw a fit when Jimmy Fallon ran onto the field in St. Louis so he could shoot one of the worst movies of all time. For Sox fans, those things were no different than the endless ads for My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss: just stuff that was going on during the stress-eating/drinking/whatever-else-ing. 

Yet, as the years went on, predictably, they went back to their first instinct and complained. The team was still winning World Series, but it got too cute. The term “pink hat” -- which for about two and a half years every guy ages 14-31 claimed they made up -- became a thing. This was a derogatory term for fair-weather fans, specifically ones who were women, because it would be impossible for a die-hard Red Sox fan to simply buy a hat in a color they liked. 

[Side-note: The Red Sox wore and sold alternate hats in the 1997 season and nobody batted an eye.]

[Other side-note: People who say “pink hat” are actually the worst. Sports don’t exist just for you, you weirdo. Even if that person isn’t as big a fan as you, they’re giving money to the team you like so the team you like can go buy free agents. Stop it.]

Did the “pink hats” hurt the 2007 Red Sox? Of course not. Josh Beckett still got to swear on TV and J.D. Drew still got to hit that grand slam. Everyone got what they wanted. Is a lady who’s probably going to die in a couple years sitting in the Wrigley stands hurting Jon Lester on the mound? No. It's really not a big deal.

Then came the bricks. From the moment the Red Sox began selling bricks to be placed in various spots of Fenway in 2011, everything was the bricks’ fault. Angry about the Adrian Gonzalez trade? Stupid ownership with their bricks. Chicken and beer got you down? Bricks. Taking Terry Francona’s side in the split? Probably. He wasn’t the one selling bricks. 

The bricks are still mentioned to this day, years after the team won a third World Series title in a 10-year span. You did not have to buy the bricks to remain a fan of the team. It was a totally optional thing. You still got to watch and go to the games without the bricks having anything to do with your life.

The bricks were sold -- at a silly price -- because some people would buy them. Then the Red Sox got that money and remained super rich. 

Sure, the team got too business-oriented in the process. Ownership became all about grand gestures, and it might have led to Theo Epstein’s departure. That’s serious collateral damage, even if Epstein didn’t believe in staying for one place forever anyway. 

Still, look at the end result. A lot of people used to actually pray for the Red Sox back in the dark days. Many undoubtedly spoke to/swore at God after watching Aaron Boone’s solo shot in the bottom of the 11th in 2003. Imagine if he answered by saying that you’d not only reach the World Series, but win three of the next 10, but that some hats would be different and the owners would come off as both money-hungry and out-of-touch. You’d sign up for that, PED accusations and everything in between. 

You don’t have to love the entire fanbase or the coverage to love a team. You certainly don’t have to love ownership. You should, however, take the good with the bad. As the adage goes, winning solves everything, even bricks.

Bradley, Betts, Pedroia are A.L. Gold Glove finalists


Bradley, Betts, Pedroia are A.L. Gold Glove finalists

Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field, Mookie Betts in right and Dustin Pedroia at second base are the Red Sox' finalists for the American League Gold Glove awards.

The Blue Jays’ Kevin Pillar and the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier are the other A.L. center field finalists. The White Sox’ Adam Eaton and Astros’ George Springer are A.L. right field finalists. Joining Pedroia as second base finalists are the Mariners’ Robinson Cano and Tigers’ Ian Kinsler.

Peoria has won four Gold Gloves. Bradley and Betts have yet to win one.

The full list of finalists is here.  The awards will be presented on Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. on ESPN

The Red Sox sent out a series of tweets backing each player’s candidacy.

Betts is also a front-runner for the American League Most Valuable Player.