Friday, September 30, 2011

Francona a ‘Great’ Manager? Really?
With Red Sox manager Terry Francona on the verge of being “disretained” following his team’s effort in the 2011 Fall Classic Collapse, all that’s being heard from the myriad talking heads who claim to know baseball is how great he’s been as skipper of the Slippers.
Really? Did we miss something? Isn’t a guy who runs a Major League Baseball team with a payroll double or triple that of most of the competition supposed to get his team into the playoffs? Your grandmother could have figured out which overpaid veteran sitting on the bench needs to pinch hit (what, twice a year in the AL?) — and, bless her heart, it’s likely that she never even played ball in her life.
Did Terry Francona ever display the cojones it takes to intentionally walk the opposing cleanup batter with the bases loaded to preserve a precarious lead on the road — and win the game?
Did Terry Francona ever demonstrate the prescience (known in some baseball circles simply as “savvy”) that prompted the reliance on a pinch-hitter batting .108 and hitless in his previous 21 MLB at-bats with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and down a run in the final game of the season in which a playoff spot was at stake — and win the game?
Did Terry Francona see the potential of Carlos Pena (even after ‘Los batted .273 in for the BlowSox in 2006)?
No? Really?
Then what exactly did Terry Francona ever do that qualifies him as a great manager? What did he ever do that any mediocre manager couldn’t have done?
Word on the streets is that the idiot-wannabes didn’t get along very well in the clubhouse (and by extension on the field). Boo hoo. Isn’t the job of a manager, by definition, to manage his players and mold their attitudes? A baseball manager has coaches to help manage the game: The pitching coach advises which reliever should be used; the bench coach is relied on to get the right pinch-hitter ready to step up to the plate. But it’s all on the manager’s shoulders when it comes to guiding his players off the field so that petty issues and heady personalities don’t disrupt his team’s chemistry.
It appears to Sox Unnation that Terry Francona still has a way to go before he should be labeled a “great’ manager. So far he’s only accomplished what he should have. Nothing unexpected. Nothing great.

The Stat: The Yankees had not squandered a lead that large that late in a game since 1953 (yeah, I know, they threw 11 pitchers, none of whom were elite, but still).
The Stat: The Rays are the first AL team in history to make the playoffs after starting 0-6. Two NL teams have accomplished that feat: the 1974 Pirates and the 1995 Reds.
The Stat: The Rays' 91 wins are the most ever by a team that started the season 1-8. The previous mark of 87 was held by the 1921 Cardinals.
The Stat: Before Wednesday night, the Rays had only swept the Yankees in a series of three or more games in the final 10 days of the season once (September 26-28, 2000).
The Stat: The Rays join the Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies as the only teams in baseball to have made the postseason in three of the last four years.
The Stat: The Rays trailed the Sox in the AL East by 11.5 games on July 27. Since then, the Rays are 37-11 and the Sox are just three games over .500.
The Stat: Johnson was hitting just .108 in 2011 when he dropped the bomb that tied the game.
The Stat: The Red Sox were 76-0 in 2011 when leading after eight innings before Baltimore's 4-3 walk-off win. It was Jonathan Papelbon's third blown save of the season.
The Stat: Boston's 7-20 September record marks its worst September since 1952.
The Stat: Longoria is only the second player in baseball history to hit a walk-off home run to clinch a postseason berth on the final day of the season (Bobby Thomsons's "Shot Heard Round the World" in 1951).

Thanks to John Tucker for sharing this with us.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rays now 10-5 against the Sox this season, 6-0 in their last 6 games
Wild Card is within reach (again)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rays wobble but they don't fall down

Wild card down to 3
Good thing Manny Ramirez isn't a distraction

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Rays sweep Sox, keep playoff dream alive.  
Wild Card now 3 1/2 games away with 17 to play.

Friday, September 9, 2011