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
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)