Blow up what?


Blow up what?

At this point, there's no turning back and there's no in between. By the end of this season, the Red Sox will either make me look really smart or really stupid. I'm talking Bill James or Rick James. Bobby Fisher or Bobby Jenks. Carl Jung or Carl Everett.

OK, you get my point, and I've made it a few times on here over the course of the season. But here we are again, with another storyline that's given me the sudden urge to take a bath with my toaster: Is it time to blow up the Red Sox?

First of all, what do people mean when they suggest it's time to "blow up" the Sox? I assume that Big Ben and Loser Larry should fire up the trade machine and send a bunch of different pieces in a bunch of different directions? That they should find the heart and soul of this team, smash it to smithereens and build a new identity with a new batch of names and faces?

OK, so let's take a look at the roster and see how we're going to blow this thing up. I'll start naming guys and stop me when I get to someone you actually think would be worth trading right now. And by "worth" I mean that getting rid of him would actually help the Sox situation andor it wouldn't cost millions upon millions upon millions to convince another team to take him. Here we go:

Dustin Pedroia? David Ortiz? Jacoby Ellsbury? Mike Aviles? Jarrod Saltalamacchia? Cody Ross? Ryan Sweeney? Nick Punto? Will Middlebrooks? Vincente Padilla? Franklin Morales? Clay Buchholz? Jon Lester? Felix Doubront? Alfredo Aceves? Carl Crawford? Adrian Gonzalez?

Anyone yet?

OK, how about Josh Beckett? Yes, OK. You can make an argument that Beckett's awful attitude makes him a prime candidate to be shown the door in the event of a clubhouse cleansing. Of course, you can also make the argument that Beckett has been their most consistent pitcher and is the only one who's experienced any consistent success in the playoffs.

Kevin Youkilis? Yes, of course. We all know that Youk needs to go. We all know he eventually will go. But I'm not sure that getting rid of your struggling, malcontent third baseman while you already have a prospect bursting at the chance to take the starting job can be considered a step towards "blowing up" the team. In fact, I really don't understand where the idea comes from at all. Or more, how it's possible.

When we talked about the blowing up the Celtics all winter, it was because we assumed they achieved as much as they could as a unit. That they were old and out of shape that as a unit they had NOTHING left and that if this was going to be their last year together anyway, why not shop them around, see what you can get. Why not get a head start on the rebuilding? In basketball, all it takes is trading one or two guys to "blow things up." Sometimes that's all you need. In baseball? With this team?

One of the rallying cries of the blow it up crew is that the Sox are in last place. And I get why that's a point of frustration to an extent.

They're a last place team! Can you believe they're in last place?! What a bunch of last place bums! Fine, but what are you going to say if they win tomorrow? I mean, come on. They're in last place, but they're actually tied for last place. Not to mention, they're also only six and a half games out of first place and four and a half out of the wild card and, oh yeah, it's June 14.

It's June 14.

Their pitching is better than ever. They've got Josh Beckett and Felix Doubront who are tied (albeit with a bunch of other guys) for fourth in the AL with eight quality starts. Jon Lester is right behind them with seven. And Clay Buchholz had an awful first two months but is probably pitching the best out of any of them. In other words, the Sox currently have four very good pitchers in their rotation. Four guys that you're confident in every single time they take the mound.

And their line-up is a little broken right now, but it can only get better from here. And as it is, they're already second in the Majors in runs scored, fourth in batting average and fifth in OPS. Despite all the recent struggles, don't you still have faith in names like Ellsbury, Pedroia, Ortiz and Gonzalez down the stretch?

Listen, I'm not saying that we should all just be hunky dory about the Sox situation. Believe me, I understand the hate. I listened to Theo Epstein on the radio yesterday and read his interview in the Globe this morning, and every step along the way, my hatred for this ownership continued to grow. I didn't think it was possible to hate them anymore than I already did, but no no, it is. And i do. But it's too early to give up on the guys in the field. I don't think blowing up anything in that clubhouse makes sense right now.

Although if you want to blow up the owner's box, you've got my full support there.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.