Haggerty: Signs are there that Sox are giving up season


Haggerty: Signs are there that Sox are giving up season

CLEVELAND So this is what happens when a baseball team gives up all pretense of hope for a season, or caring about how theyre perceived.

Sure there were still angry competitors raging against the dying of the 2012 Red Sox dream. Dustin Pedroia practically had hot, piping steam coming out of his ears as he barked out a request for reporters to hurry up and ask him whatever questions were coming his way after his first career game as a designated hitter.

Pedroia had a pair of hits and scored a run in Bostons 5-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night at Progressive Field, and his hitting tear continued for another day as the little infielder played in his 14th straight game.

But he wasnt able to get up with a chance to tie the game in the seventh inning when Pedro Ciriaco and Carl Crawford ran into a rare 6-5-6-4 double play that killed a potential rally what was then a tight one-run game.

It was Ciriacos mistake in being over-aggressive attempting to go second-to-third on a fairly routine infield ground ball, and he appeared to be wearing the burden of the loss following the game.

I thought the ball was going to pass him, so I went and he made a nice play, said Ciriaco. I should have waited to see if it went through. I made a mistake.

Its an easily forgivable miscue from a minor league middle infielder thats hitting .341 for the Sox, and has consistently been one of the best stories during a sunken regular season. Ciriaco is not the problem with his baseball team, but his gaffe helped slap the Sox with their third loss in a row and sank them to three games under .500 for the first time.

Wearing that kind of substandard record and consistently letting games slip through their fingers in mid-August has brought some harsh realities to most of the Sox players. They know the season is over, and that winning streak their shiny, happy manager keeps talking about simply isnt coming.

There were looks of resignation on many of the Sox players faces as they chewed up corn on the cob, picked at the postgame spread and shuffled out of the Cleveland visitors clubhouse. Its the same clubhouse that some of these players strutted through five years ago with World Series confidence, but that was truly a long time ago.

There were others that just dont seem to care about wins or losses anymore.

Like John Lackey as he apparently needs to travel with the team and work with trainer Mike Reinold while recovering from Tommy John surgery a fairly standard rehab that literally thousands of pitchers have come back from stronger-than-ever over the last 30 years.

But for whatever reason the underachieving righty needs to travel with the team even though he wont be throwing even one measly pitch for them.

Lackey was so busted up after the latest defeat that he was strutting around the clubhouse with a can of Bud Light in each hand, or what is known as double-fisting on every college campus in the history of mankind.

So much for the Bobby Valentine ban on alcohol in the Sox clubhouse that was implemented during spring training.

For a guy that was at the epicenter of last years chicken and beer shenanigans and somebody that isnt expected to help out this years team in any way, shape or form it was another clear case of some Sox players that just dont care anymore.

Not all.

Not even most.

But instead its a few rotten apples that are ruining the bunch as they continue to infect a team thats trying to shake its past reputation.

They dont care about the ultimate fate of this years team, and thats been obvious in the consistently bogus results.

They clearly dont care to protect reputations they feel were sullied when the truth about last years fractured, flawed squad came to light.

The conventional thinking was that Lackey would be removed from the equation after he underwent offseason elbow surgery, and would rehab in Fort Myers or at home.

But instead hes essentially morphed into Barney from the Simpsons hanging around the team with an 82.5 million contract and no accountability of any kind.

It probably shouldnt be surprising in the end, however.

Why should players that suffered no real punishment for last years misdeeds feel like theyre anything but bulletproof when they do the exact same things this year?

The Red Sox had a chance over the winter and again at the trade deadline -- to sweep out the problem children, and jettison the I Like Beer backup singers to parts unknown.

They didnt do it and that same swaggering indifference threatens a group of young players trying to do the right thing while the regular seasons walls are already closing around them.

There was a lot of talk that things would be different about this years group of Sox players. But action speaks louder than words, and theyre screaming same old, same old as the Sox sink back toward the bottom of the AL East with the second-highest payroll in all of Major League Baseball.

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.