First Pitch: Friday, September 9

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First Pitch: Friday, September 9

By ArtMartone
CSNNE.com

Welcome to First Pitch, aquick spin around the world of Major League Baseball . . . or at leastthe corner of it that most concerns the Red Sox. For a complete wrapupof Thursday's action, check out Craig Calcaterra's AndThatHappened(hardballtalk.nbcsports.com).

DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY: In his essential Nation STATion column, Bill Chuck shows why it doesn't really matter if the Red Sox make the playoffs as the division winner or the wild card. The Boston Globe (which quoted Chuck in its story) agrees.

Good thing, because these guys are hardly looking like division winners these days. (csnne.com)

Andrew Miller's continuing struggles (csnne.com) highlighted the Sox' ongoing pitching woes, which has been at the heart of this recent 7-losses-in-10-games downturn. Take it from ESPN's Buster Olney:

.bbpBox112078609971298304 background:url(http:a3.twimg.comprofile_background_images146607075busterback2.jpg) 131516;padding:20px; p.bbpTweetbackground:fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px p.bbpTweet span.metadatadisplay:block;width:100;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid fff;border-top:1px solid e6e6e6 p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.authorline-height:19px p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author imgfloat:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px p.bbpTweet a:hovertext-decoration:underlinep.bbpTweet span.timestampfont-size:12px;display:block The Red Sox have allowed 51 runs in eight games since the start of September.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet ReplyBuster Olney
Buster_ESPN

So who knows? Maybe there's still hope for Tim Wakefield to make a contribution; he'll get another chance to do so Tuesday. (csnne.com) And pitching coach Curt Young remains confident in John Lackey. (Boston Herald)

One thing's for sure: Wild card or division winner, they won't be playing very long in October with pitching like this.

AND THAT'S WHY . . . Joe Posnanski thinks Dan Wheeler is Boston's X-factor. (si.com)

SIGN OF THE TIMES: It can't be a good thing that the Red Sox are part of old friend David Pinto's Massive Tie Scenario (baseballmusings.com), since that means their playoff spot isn't mathematically safe.

BIRD LOVERS: Still, the Sox didn't lose any ground yesterday thanks to those suddenly resurgent Orioles, who beat the Yankees in 10 innings for the second straight day. (New York Daily News) The dastardly Francisco Cervelli took a shoulder-to-head blow in a home-place collision with Nick Markakis, but he stayed in the game and -- even though he's had at least three other concussions in his career -- refused a concussion test after the game. (New York Daily News) That's Cervelli . . .

ALL RIGHT FOR YOU: Nick Swisher came out of yesterday's game in the eighth inning, admitted to reporters that something was bothering him physically, but when asked what it was, replied: "I'm not going to tell you." (New York Post)

A BARGAIN AT ANY PRICE: Alex Rodriguez recently bought a 24 million house in Miami. (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)

SURRENDER TO THE VOID: Dan Shaughnessy says neither the Red Sox nor the Yankees are going to win the World Series. (si.com)

THIS IS IT: The Rays probably aren't either, but they're (rightfully) looking at this weekend's series against the Red Sox as their last, best chance to get back into the postseason picture. (St. Petersburg Times) The Times' John Romano, however, tells Tampa Bay fans -- however few there may be -- not to get their hopes up, because history isn't on their side.

WE TAKE OUR JOY WHERE WE CAN GET IT: The Tampa Tribune points out that Rays' left fielders are outperforming Carl Crawford this year. Well, yeah, but who isn't?

ENJOY THE PRESENT, BECAUSE THE FUTURE BELONGS TO US: The Tribune also notes that the Rays are well-positioned going forward because of their pitching surplus.

NOT SURPRISING, SINCE MOST OF THEIR BEST PLAYERS ARE SITTING ON THE BENCH IN BOSTON: The PawSox lost the opener of their playoff series to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. (pawsox.com)

WHY, IN MY TIME . . . Never thought I'd hear Bill Lee waxing poetic about the good old days and railing about how the world's gone to hell in a handbasket, but here you go. (nesn.com)

EVERETT ARRESTED: In sad but unsurprising news, troubled ex-Red Sox outfielder Carl Everett has been arrested on domestic-violence charges. (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)

ELIGIBILITY RULES: There's been quite the Should-Justin-Verlander-Be-The-MVP? debate raging on local talk radio, and foxsports.com's Tracy Ringolsby says the answer is an unequivocal yes. Or at least he says Verlander should absolutely be considered . . . which undercuts the "Pitchers Aren't As Important As Everyday PlayersPitchers Have Their Own Award" argument.

OLD FRIENDS: Chris Narveson -- he was part of the haul in the Byung-Hyun Kim deal, remember? -- pitched well for a while before the roof caved in on him and the Brewers in a 7-2 loss to the Phillies in what could an NLCS preview (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) . . . Jason Bay, showing signs of life, drove in five runs in a doubleheader against the Braves, but the Mets lost both games (New York Daily News) . . . David Ross homered and drove in two runs in one of those games, continuing what has been a fine year for him as the Braves' backup catcher. (Rotoworld)

AND FINALLY . . . Leave it to our old friend Repoz to discover both a picture of Tony La Russa playing maracas for Carlos Santana, and the fact that Joe Morgan (the Hall of Famer, not Walpole Joe) will be leading the world's largest chicken dance (or, as the proud sponsors call it, the World's Largest Chicken Dance) next Saturday. (baseballthinkfactory.org)

David Ortiz re-enacts Boston movie scenes as part of charity video

David Ortiz re-enacts Boston movie scenes as part of charity video

As part of a charity promotion with Omaze, David Ortiz has made a video re-enacting scenes from Boston-set movies. 

The movies range from a classic -- "Good Will Hunting" -- to very good crime movies -- "The Departed, The Town" — to the just plain bad "Fever Pitch," but all of the scenes are entertaining. Ortiz plays every part in each scene, often playing to characters interacting with one another. 

At the end of the video, a link is given to Omaze.com/papi, which gives fans the opportunity to enter a drawing to attend his jersey retirement ceremony by donating. Proceeds go to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund and the Red Sox Foundation. 

The David Ortiz Children Fund aims to help children in New England and the Dominican Republic who are born with congenital heart failure. 
 

Drellich: When will Red Sox players hold themselves accountable?

Drellich: When will Red Sox players hold themselves accountable?

BOSTON -- Whether John Farrell is managing the Red Sox next week or next month, keep an eye on player accountability.

Five years ago, Bobby Valentine was supposed to be the disciplinarian that stopped babying the clubhouse. Disaster followed, largely because Valentine was a terrible fit for this group, his approach extreme and dated.

But this year’s team makes you wonder whether a distilled sense of Red Sox entitlement lingers.

At Fenway Park, is the message from the veteran voices one that includes a sense of public accountability for not just the manager, but the players as well?

In FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal’s piece on Farrell, Rosenthal noted “some players, but not all, believe that [Farrell] does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media.”

Those unnamed players Rosenthal cites need a mirror, badly. Or at least a glance around the room.

Where’s the guy in the clubhouse standing up to the media with any consistency? There’s no voice that regularly shields the younger, less experienced guys from tough but expected questions after losses.

Dustin Pedroia gets dressed and leaves the clubhouse faster than Chris Sale will get the ball back and throw it Wednesday. 

Pedroia mentioned something about whale poop in Oakland over the weekend. He can be very funny, but he’s not exactly keen to deliver calming, state-of-the-union addresses — not with frequency, anyway.

Farrell, of course, has been criticized for doing the opposite of what the FOX Sports story noted. The manager was mobbed on social media last year for saying David Price had good stuff on a day Price himself said the opposite.

The premise here is amusing, if you think about it.

Follow: Players are upset that the manager does not do a better job lying about their performance. And this, in turn, affects how players play?

Get a grip.

The public isn’t dumb. If you’re bad, you’re bad, and you’re going to hear about it in Boston. No manager changes that.

Whichever Sox player seeks more protection from Farrell really needs a reminder from a teammate to play better.

Too often, some of the most famous, prominent athletes can be sensitive, and over-sensitive. Look at how LeBron James handled a question about what led to his poor performance in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

It is true that some players question Farrell’s leadership, as Rosenthal reported. But it can also be difficult to separate questions of leadership from whining and grumbling that a manager isn’t providing said player more chances, more opportunities, even if undeserved.

How can Drew Pomeranz's unfounded dugout complaints be Farrell's fault?

The situation and player that make Farrell look the worst this year is Hanley Ramirez. The idea of him playing first base is gone, his shoulders apparently too screwed up to make that viable. 

Somehow, Ramirez made 133 starts at first base last year. One has to wonder how all of a sudden Ramirez can barely play a single game. 

If he’s hurt, he’s hurt. But the Sox didn’t come out of the gate in spring training and say, first base is out of the picture because of his health. They kept saying there was hope he'd be able to play in the field.

If Ramirez is being obstinate, he’s in turn making Farrell look weak. And, more importantly, hurting his team.

What would Ramirez be doing if David Ortiz hadn't retired? Spending the year on the disabled list?

Farrell can pack up his bags today, tomorrow or after the next full moon. The players would still need to take it upon themselves to do what’s best for their team: to focus on what matters.

If they’ve forgotten, that’s about performing up to their abilities and being accountable for themselves -- publicly and privately -- when they don’t.

A manager’s quote in the media doesn’t change whether you’re playing bad baseball.