WATCH: Harrleson tears into umpire Mark Wegner

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WATCH: Harrleson tears into umpire Mark Wegner

You have to be in your 40s to remember Ken Harrelson's days in Boston as an announcer, and in your 50s to remember him as a Red Sox player. Because I qualify on both counts, this Hawk rant from today -- classic enough to stand on its own -- means a little more to me than it probably will to most of you (courtesy of our friends at CSN Chicago):

The background: Plate umpire Mark Wegner ejected White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana for throwing behind the legs of Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist, even though no warnings had previously been issued. Wegner apparently felt the pitch was in retaliation for the Rays' Alex Cobb hitting Chicago's A.J. Pierzynski in the shoulder one inning earlier. Normally, the retaliation pitch -- especially if it doesn't hit anyone -- brings the warning; Wegner instead cut right to the chase. (White Sox manager Robin Ventura, incidentally, also got the heave for arguing the call, though not nearly as emotionally as the Hawk.)

Harrelson was the toast of Boston in 1968, when he hit 35 homers and captured the imagination of Red Sox Nation's youth (like me) with his long hair and Nehru jackets and love beads. He was traded the following year, but returned in 1975 as an announcer. And believe it or not -- after ditching a year-long Goober Pyle imitation he attempted when he first arrived -- he was an intelligent, erudite voice of reason, analyzing games as thoroughly as a college professor breaks down the chapter of a novel. He was an absolute joy to listen to.

That sort of analysis is heavy on honesty, and Red Sox management (Haywood Sullivan and Buddy LeRoux at the time) wasn't big on that particular attribute, especially as the '70s turned to the '80s and they were busy doing things like trading Rick Burleson and Fred Lynn for 20 cents on the dollar, and letting Carlton Fisk become a free agent by deliberately mailing his contract two days late. When the White Sox came calling with a big offer to become their lead TV voice, he was encouraged to take it.

And so he did. The job came complete with a pair of pom-poms -- White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf didn't mind honesty as long as it was delivered by a cheerleader -- and the Hawk eventually morphed into the frothing-at-the-mouth homer you just heard. Still, it's entertaining . . . and, in a strange way, it reminds me of better times.

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.