A few things you won’t read in the papers today:
- The bullpen was actually used in the “normal” way. Mendoza came in as the setup guy, Embree came in to close.
- If this team had an everyday closer, it would have been Embree anyway.
- Had they signed Urbina, they wouldn’t have afforded Millar, Mendoza, Ortiz, or Mueller.
- If Nomar doesn’t double clutch, the game is over.
- Dan Shaughnessy has predicted three opening day no-hitters for the Sox against seemingly overmatched opponents. All three times the Sox have lost.
A couple other items of note…who was the losing pitcher on last years opening day for the Sox? Urbina. Last July, who choked away a 4-0 ninth inning lead against Tampa? Urbina. Tony Massarotti actually mentions those last two items about Urbina, but elsewhere, all you’re going to read about is how the “committee” failed. If Grady Little is going to be criticized for anything about last night, it should be that in a way, he actually went *against* the committee theory. The idea is to have your best pitcher for the situation on the mound in the crucial spots. Mendoza got the Rays down on nine pitches in the eighth inning. Instead of leaving him in there to finish the game, Little made the move that most managers would make under the conventional bullpen thinking…bring in the fireballer to get the cheap save in the ninth. You can say he used the committee theory in that he brought in Embree with three lefties due up in the ninth. So what do the CBC (closer by committee) rules say about that? Go to the matchups, or stick with the old theory that you must have a new pitcher every inning, especially in the ninth? David Heuschkel does allude to the idea that maybe he should’ve left Mendoza in, but the crux of is piece is Pedro lamenting the loss of Urbina. Rather that analyzing the strategy or mentioning any of the points above, the rest of the stories stick to the sensationalism of the one-day failure of the CBC. Globe Headline: “Committee system fails as Rays shock Sox in 9th” for Bob Hohler’s story. Then you have Jeff Horrigan’s opening paragraph:
Take away the ``c'' because the Red Sox' controversial strategy to deploy a ``closer by committee'' at the end of games instantly devolved into a horrific ``loser by committee'' meltdown last night at Tropicana Field.
A somewhat more calm and rational effort is put forth by Sean McAdam, who nonetheless says this one won’t be forgotten for some time. Somehow you knew Dan Shaughnessy couldn’t wait to get to his keyboard after this one. Could an opening day be more in his wheelhouse? You got the usual:
wiseguy columnists and bloodthirsty shut-ins of nitwit radio are already sharpening the knives to expose the flaws of the 2003 Red Sox.
and to close the column:
Unfortunately, most members of the Nation have not grown out of it. That's what makes them Red Sox fans. All they know at this hour is that the Sox are 0-1, the closer-by-committee system is a bust, and the sky is falling inside the Teflon roof of Tropicana Field.
Gordon Edes is using messages left on Shaughnessy’s voicemail in his story today. Jon Wallach making his Metro debut, tells us not to panic. Tony Massarotti looks at another maligned area of the Sox, the infield defense. Nick Cafardo loves Lou Piniella’s brilliant game plan. Right. The plan all along was to have Carl Crawford up with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth and let him take his chances on a pitch out of the zone. Sean McAdam also looks at Rocco Baldelli’s debut. Gordon Edes and Steve Buckley look ahead with Tim Wakefield ready to assume his role as full time starter. Glenn Miller looks at Tampa’s hero of yesterday, Carl Crawford. Apparently, the Rays are so new to this winning thing, that a couple guys suffered minor injuries (A sore tongue?) in the victory celebration, according to Carter Gaddis. Buckley’s entire pay column is about Pedro missing Urbina. On a somewhat more positive note, it looks like Pedro’s agent and the Sox are going to talk for a few more days. Notebooks: Hohler, Horrigan, McAdam, Heuschkel.
OK, so does Derek Jeter get ripped every day that he misses due to sliding headfirst into the base, a la Manny Ramirez? Didn’t think so.
Seems somehow appropriate that this Bruins team would clinch a playoff spot with a tie. Kevin Paul Dupont and Stephen Harris have the story. Karen Guregian says that Mike O’Connell isn’t happy with the effort of his team. Joe McDonald adds that O’Connell is still waiting to see the style of play he wants from the Bruins. Paul Harber stops just short of saying “Why can’t we get players like that” in reference to John Grahame. James Murphy has more with Grahame. Rich Thompson reports that the Tampa coach wasn’t too happy with Martin Lapointe. Dupont’s notebook looks at the callup of Lee Goren from Providence. Harris’ notebook also looks at Goren, and has a few injury updates as well.
Shane Donaldson looks at Antwoine Womack, getting healthy and eager to play in the NFL. Mike Reiss looks at a new surgery and rehab program that Joe Andruzzi is using to get his knee back in playing condition. Almost all of Michael Felger’s article on free agent Defensive Lineman Jeff Zgonina coming to visit the Patriots is for naught, as Zgonina signed with the Dolphins early last evening. (The Print edition apparently has an updated story, which may find its way onto the web site as well)
Bill Griffith looks at HBO’s “Legendary Fights” series, which tomorrow will recap the final Hagler/Leonard fight. He also had a piece on NESN’s transition from Red Sox to Bruins last night. Jim Baker’s pay column summarizes the announcers reactions to last night’s Red Sox disaster, and takes a little shot across the bow:
Ch. 38 and 4's low-rated ``Red Sox This Week'' delayed hosting from Green Monster seats until Sunday, but NESN's weekly Sox magazine found something more annoying than Chris Berman's Jets chatter on ESPN as the Cubs bombed the Mets, 15-2. The Sox show had such loud background noise in The Place, it nearly stifled Bob Ryan - quite a feat.