Thursday, April 17, 2014
The St. Louis Cardinals bring a more balanced team to Fenway Park than the one they brought to the 2004 World Series.
What does Boston need to do for victory? Today's advance offers a few clues.
As for that 2004 Series, the Cardinals catcher then is now their manager. Mark Matheny reflects back in today's column.
A little mystery concerns the status of Clay Buchholz, presumed to be the Game 3 starter. But manager John Farrell held off on announcing the starters for the weekend. Then after the workout, the mystery continued. See today's notebook.
According to weei.com, the Red Sox fully expect Buchholz to make his next start.
And now, for a little levity, your A-to-Z guide to the World Series:
A is for Arnie, as in Arnie Beyeler the first base coach for Boston. He will get a lot of face time when he talks to Red Sox players who reach base. What is neat is that Beyeler used to chat up fans at Hadlock Field when he managed the Portland Sea Dogs for four years. Beyeler still talks fondly of his days in Maine and always tells Portland reporters to relay his best to the fans. So, there you have it, Arnie says hi.
B is for Beards, of course. It began as a fad for a couple of players in spring training and is now a source of bonding for the boys.
C is for Cherington, as in Ben Cherington. He is another one who used to frequent Hadlock Field as the man in charge of the Red Sox minor leaguers. Now he is in charge of the major league team as general manager. Seems to be doing a good job.
D is for Designated Hitter. The DH position will be used at Fenway Park but is not allowed at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Confused? You should be. Back in 1973, American League decided a player - the Designated Hitter - could bat for the pitcher. This was more exciting to watch. But the National League stuck to tradition: No DH. Forty years later, they still play by separate rules, unable to reach an agreement.
E is for Errors. Hitters and pitchers get all the publicity, but many times it is the fielding that wins games.
F is for FOX. The network pays Major League Baseball $525-million a year. Plan to see plenty of promos for network shows, not to mention more commercials between innings.
G is for Grinding At-Bats. Sounds a little risque, but it is actually a style both teams employ. It means seeing a lot of pitches, fouling off a bunch more and making the pitcher work. It also makes the game longer. Combined with the extra commercials, this makes for a late night.
H is for Henry, as in John Henry. The soft-voiced owner of the Red Sox will occasionally be shown on your TV screen, watching the game from a box seat or his luxury suite.
I is for Innings. There are usually nine innings in a game (sometimes more). In each inning, both teams get a chance to bat. In the middle of each inning, there are commercials. In between innings, there are commercials. Plenty of time for bathroom breaks, channel surfing, reading, home repairs, etc.
J is for Jacoby, as in Jacoby Ellsbury. He played for the Sea Dogs in 2006 and ‘07 and has been thrilling the Boston Red Sox fans since. This could be his last month in a Boston uniform. Ellsbury is a free agent after this season and his agent is Scott Boras.
K is for Koji, as in Koji Uehara, the closer who pitches in the last inning when the Red Sox have the lead. It is an important job. The Red Sox did not consider Uehara for the role. But after other pitchers were injured, Uehara took over. He is now one of the best closers in baseball, which shows that the Red Sox are not just smart, they are also lucky.
L is for Lester, as in Jon Lester. He is only 29, but it feels like Lester has been around a long time. He has. Lester’s connection with the Red Sox is the longest of any current player, since he was drafted out of Bellarmine Prep School (Tacoma, Wash.) in 2002. Lester played for the Sea Dogs in 2005 and reached the majors the next year.
M is for Marathon Bombings. This is a sensitive area since we’re careful associating a tragic event with something as trivial as a baseball game. But the Red Sox, in public ceremonies, as well as countless private ways, have done their best to help the city heal. That does not negate the suffering experienced, but this baseball team has done what could.
N is for Nava, as in Daniel Nava. He has never been a star, but he keeps exceeding expectations. He likely will not be in the starting lineup. But look for him to do something to help Boston win.
O is for On-Base Percentage. Moneyball lives.
P is for Papi. David Ortiz is Big Papi, Boston’s version of “Casey At The Bat,” a seemingly larger-than-life figure. Anticipation spreads when Ortiz walks to the batter’s box. And, often, he brings a lot of joy to Beantown.
Q is for Quirky. The players are quirky (see the part about the beards), but they also play in a quirky ballpark. Fenway is 101-years-old and is known for its 37-foot high Green Monster left field wall, as well as the centerfield triangle which has many opposing outfielders chasing the ball as it caroms in unpredictable ways.
R is for Rain. Have you seen the weather forecast? October baseball may be exciting but it can also be played in miserable conditions.
S is for St. Louis, a city known for its passionate and knowledgable baseball fans, every bit as much as Boston.
T is for tickets. Any tickets that are available will be sold on the streets. Plan to pay a “handling fee.”
U is for Underdog. Everyone roots for the underdog but, in this case, there isn’t one. Boston and St. Louis had the best record in their respective leagues.
V is for Victorino, as in Shane Victorino. He hits game-winning grand slams and plays a terrific right field, but Victorino is just as popular for his walk-up music. When Victorino comes to bat, Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” is played and soon, all Fenway is singing “Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
W is for Workman, as in Brandon Workman. He was not as well known as the other top pitching prospects who began the 2013 season in Portland, but he is the one still pitching as a reliable reliever out of the Boston bullpen.
X is for Xander, as in Xander Bogaerts, another player who began the season in Portland. Athletic, easy-going and outrageously talented, Bogaerts, 21, is the youngest to play for Boston in the post-season. The previously youngest player: Babe Ruth.
Y is for Yale. Many of these ballplayers, despite the stereotypes, are smart and articulate. Then there is the extreme example of reliever Craig Breslow, a graduate from Yale with degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry.
Z is for zzzzz. Did we mention these games will be lasting until midnight or later?
Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.
Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases
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