Low-powered Laser


Low-powered Laser

By Rich Levine

Tuesday was supposed to be the night Dustin Pedroia saved the Red Sox.

That looks and sounds incredibly dramatic, given that the game was being played in mid-August against the struggling Los Angeles of Anaheim "No, seriously, Callaspo's hitting third" Angels, but drama was real.

Pedroia's return marked the start of Boston's last chance to make a run. The idea was that injecting him back into the mix might be the last-gasp-kick-in-the-ass the Sox needed. Pedroia would invoke change in the clubhouse, and in turn, the Sox would see some change in the standings.

And because he's Dustin Pedroia, everyone expected him to rise to the occasion. Honestly, would you have been remotely surprised if hed gone 3-for-5 and with a three-run homer? Doesnt that just seem like the Pedroia thing to do?

I was having visions of Nomar coming back in 2001, and hitting a homer and the game-winning single against the White Sox. Or Manny clearing waivers in 2005 and hitting a walk-off, pinch-hit single up the middle to beat the Twins.

The Pedroia storyline felt perfect. Hell, it was even his birthday!

He'd come up big, the fans would take over, and the energy and momentum would carry the Sox into their beyond crucial trip to Tampa at the end of the month. Mark it, dude.

But, sadly, on Tuesday night, the stars ultimately werent aligned for a historic return.
He hit a Laser Show on the first pitch he saw, but swung too early. He had a great chance to collect his first post-injury Web Gem in the second, but couldn't stab the grounder. He even tried going Manny and Nomar with a bullet up the middle, except Jered Weaver closed his eyes, threw out his glove and sent Pedey back to the bench. Oh well. So much for the memories.

But at this point in the season, and with the Yankees and Rays showing no signs of slowing down, it doesn't matter how the Sox win.

Whether Pedroia went 3-for-5 or 0-for-4, the Sox kicked off their unofficial "Last chance to make a run" with momentum building, 6-0 victory.

And the season lives to see another day.

OK, that was too dramatic.

Some random SoxAngels thoughts:

The Sox are the Celtics.

Hopefully this comparison carries into the playoffs, but for now, I'm talking about the fact that no Sox lead ever feels safe.

The fact they can have a six-run lead in the seventh inning, and you feel uneasy because Felix Dobrount's the only guy warming up in the bullpen.

The fact that sometimes you're more surprised when they don't blow a big lead.

Is Fenway still pretending to have a sellout streak?

Since turning 30 in the winter, I come across at least one thing every day that makes me feel depressingly old. I'll be driving to work and hear Stone Temple Pilots on a classic rock station. Ill be wasting time on Wikipedia and discover Bo Jackson's about to turn 48. Always something. It never fails.

Anyway, yesterdays moment came courtesy of Don Orsillo:

"Torii Hunter has been moved to right field for the Angels."


If you're interested, here are my three most crushing "sign of the times" moments of the baseball season.

1. Griffey retires
2. Hunter loses center field
3. A-Rod enters menopause

Is the music in those Boston.com ads straight from The Departed? Either that or its a situation where they changed the song just enough to not have to pay the rights. Anyway, all I can think about during the commercial is that movie. I keep waiting for Gasper to be whacked at center court.

Loved watching Darnell MacDonald crash that windshield (although I guess theres probably one guy out there who'd disagree), but at the same time, I'm wildly disappointed that Adrian Beltre didnt do it first.

Can you imagine the aftermath of car getting bombed by one of AB's blasts? I'm not sure the whole parking lot wouldn't explode?

On a related note, who would have thought that Adrian Beltre would become the most lovable personality on the 2010 Red Sox?

I always figured he'd be competing with J.D. Drew in the robot division.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

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.