First Pitch: Friday, September 2

143385.jpg

First Pitch: Friday, September 2

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).

'IT'S NOT BASEBALL': You're on the Mark, Teixeira. (New York Times)

Let's give the Yankee first baseman the floor for just a little longer:

"If I was a fan, why would I want to come watch people sitting aroundand talking back and forth, going to the mound, 2-0 sliders in thedirt? Four-hour games cant be fun for a fan, either."

There's a Tex message that baseball really ought to listen to.

The Red Sox and the Yankees did it again last night, a coma-inducing 4-hour-and-26-minute torturefest that featured more than 300 pitches, an umpire who refused to call strikes on borderline deliveries (until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth Boston Herald), pitching changes, trips to the mound, you name it . . . everything except crisp, exciting baseball, the sort of thing that made us all fall in love with the game in the first place. To put it in perspective: The Patriots and Giants, playing a typical three-hour NFL game in Foxboro on the same night, started 20 minutes after the Sox and Yanks and finished an hour earlier.

And the final score was 4-2. It wasn't like there were tons of runs and loads of runners, the sorts of things that you'd expect (and accept) when a ballgame lasts that long. Tim Britton of the Providence Journal provides a great breakdown as to why it all went as long as it did . . . and very little had anything to do with things that make a baseball game exciting or suspenseful or dramatic.

David Schoenfield of ESPN -- while acknowledging that he's not looking forward to Sox-Yanks playoff games ending around 12:30 or 1 a.m. EDT -- thinks "the hand-wringing about baseball's pace is mostly a bunch of nonsense" and warns that if they meet in the postseason, the "baseball haters will no doubt come out in full force". Sorry, David. I love baseball as much as anybody, but Teixeira is right. This isn't baseball. No 4-2, nine-inning game should last 4 12 hours.

In the end, this can't be good for the sport. It can't be. Because no one except the most diehard of diehard fans is going to sit and watch "people sitting aroundand talking back and forth, going to the mound, 2-0 sliders in thedirt" on a consistent basis.

Believe me. I'm the most diehard of diehard fans. And I'm about at my limit.

AGREED: Old friend Craig Calcaterra is singing the same tune, even though he doesn't seem to be as fed up as me. (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)

HERE'S THE REAL PROBLEM: The strategies that drag out the game? They work. (New York Daily News) It was one of the reasons the Yankees beat the Sox last night. (si.com)

OH, YEAH, THE GAME: The Yankees prevailed, 4-2, on a night when Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard, two of the Red Sox' most consistent relievers, failed them. (Both stories csnne.com) The Yanks, who got a rare good outing from A.J. Burnett, were happy about the whole thing (New York Daily News), especially since it pulled them within a half-game of the Red Sox in the A.L. East.

WITH THE GOOD COMES THE BAD: The Yankees may be without Teixeira for a bit, after he took an Aceves pitch off the knee. (New York Daily News)

IS THERE ANY OTHER GAME HE PLAYS? J.D. Drew says his injured finger is forcing him to play "the waiting game". (csnne.com)

WAIT'S ALMOST OVER: Cbssports.com's Evan Brunell looks at some players for whom September could be their career swan songs, and Drew (not to mention Tim Wakefield) makes the list.

PUT ME IN, COACH: Yes, that was Phil Mickelson taking batting practice at Fenway. (csnne.com) And as you can see by the video, he's not too bad.

I GIVE UP: Big Bad Baseball's Don Malcolm can't decide between Jose Bautista, Adrian Gonzalez and Curtis Granderson for American League MVP, so he suggests splitting the award three ways and being done with it.

PHEW! The Red Sox will miss C.J. Wilson this weekend. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE WEIRD TURN PRO: Just when you thought the saga of the Dodgers couldn't get any stranger, the Chinese government comes along and reportedly offers cash-strapped Frank McCourt 1.2 billion for the team. (Los Angeles Times)

MY BAD: And here I thought the ownership squabble in Los Angeles had already been settled. (hbo.com)

FAMILY AFFAIRS: Chris Johnson, son of Red Sox first base coach Ron Johnson, is back with the Astros (Houston Chronicle) . . . Andrew Romine, son of ex-Red Sox outfielder Kevin Romine, has been called up by the Angels. (mlb.com)

OLD FRIENDS: Hanley Ramirez is considering shoulder surgery (Miami Herald) . . . Dustin Richardson (remember him?) has been outrighted to Triple-A by the Braves. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

AND FINALLY . . . Funny, but "Stop bullying me!" isn't one of the top five things I'd expect to come out of Keith Hernandez' mouth. (Yahoo!)

Big Papi's Papi was taken by surprise at retirement announcement

Big Papi's Papi was taken by surprise at retirement announcement

BOSTON - David Ortiz may be masterful in the clutch and one of the more charitable athletes in the city, but much like anyone else, Big Papi doesn’t always inform his own Papi of news right away -- even if he plans to announce it to the general public.

“He actually didn’t tell me [that he planned to announce his retirement],” Enrique Ortiz, David’s father, said through a Red Sox’ translator on Saturday before the next-to-last regular-season game. “I was in the Dominican Republic when he announced it in the states.

While Enrique would explain -- humbly -- how proud he was of his son, he’s not so sure announcing his retirement before the season was the correct move.

“If I was [in America], I would have told him not to announce his retirement,” the elder Ortiz explained, “just because there’s so many things that can happen in a season. Or you might have a change of heart after the season.

“If I were here I would have told him to stay neutral so his options were more open. So I wouldn’t have told him to retire.”

Although dad wasn’t on board with his son’s announcement, he’s done what any good parent does -- bite their tongue and let things play out.

“I haven’t told him anything about why he's retiring because I know it’s coming from him and it’s his decision,” Enrique said. “But when I look back to 2013, I remember coming here and I see him with what looks like two cats on his feet. And I’m like ‘What happened to my boy? Did he get into an accident or something?’ And what he told me was, ‘This is how you son is making this money, doing all of this stuff before a game.’ So [him retiring] is not a surprise to me.”

Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: E-Rod on mound, Bogaerts back to 2-hole

red_sox_eduardo_rodriguez_092815.jpg

Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: E-Rod on mound, Bogaerts back to 2-hole

The Red Sox (93-67) look to close in on the No. 2 seed in the A.L. playoffs and home-field advantage in the Division Series with the Cleveland Indians (92-67) with a victory over the Toronto Blue Jays tonight at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7, 4.68 ERA) to the mound against left-hander J.A. Happ (20-4, 3.20). Rodriguez is expected to pitch either Game 3 or 4 of the Division Series against the Indians next week.

If both teams finish with 94 wins, the Red Sox hold the tiebreaker over the Indians, based on Boston winning the season series, 4-2. The Indians may have to play a makeup game Monday with the Detroit Tigers.

The Jays are a game behind the Baltimore Orioles for the top A.L. wild-card spot and hold a half-game lead over the Detroit Tigers for the second wild-card spot. 

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts moves back to his customary No. 2 spot in the batting order after hitting sixth Friday night. Right-handed hitting Aaron Hill is at third base and Christian Vazquez catches for Boston.

There will be the second of three ceremonies this weekend to honor retiring Red Sox DH David Ortiz before the game.  

The lineups:

RED SOX
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Christian Vazquez C
---
Eduardo Rodriguez LHP

BLUE JAYS
Devon Travis 2B
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion 1B
Jose Bautista DH
Russell Martin C
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Melvin Upton LF
Kevin Pillar CF
Ezequiel Carrera RF
---
J.A. Happ LHP