A pretty busy midweek, as the Red Sox slam the Rangers, Bill Griffith looks at the changing face of media access, a couple Celtics items for the upcoming summer league and the daily Tour De France and New York updates.
There were no late inning relief pitching dramatics for the Red Sox last night as they defeated the Texas Rangers 7-4 behind the pitching of Tim Wakefield and the 20th career grand slam of Manny Ramirez. In Nick Cafardo’s story this morning, Johnny Damon makes note of the team’s ability to come back after devastating losses, and he’s absolutely right. Everytime this team suffers a loss that you feel might shake them up a little bit, they seem to bounce right back the next day. Jeff Horrigan notes that Wakefield’s performance might not qualify as an official “quality start”, but he did what the Red Sox needed by going 8 innings and getting the bullpen some rest. Sean McAdam says that the relative ease of last night’s victory helps take some of the sting out of the loss from Monday. David Heuschkel looks at the “gutsy” effort from Wakefield, who tied Luis Tiant for fourth place on the all-time wins list for Red Sox pitchers.
Keith Foulke is still the center of attention, especially after it was revealed on WEEI around 5:00 yesterday afternoon that the closer would be headed back to Boston to get his knees checked out and have an MRI done on each of them. Sean McAdam was on the air for WEEI shortly after the news broke, and he looks at the closer being sent home. In the Globe, Amalie Benjamin has the story, noting the dramatic swing in Foulke’s effectiveness between last fall and now. David Heuschkel also reports that it is possible that Foulke could find himself on the disabled list…whether he’s really injured to that extent or not. Bob Ryan weighs in on the Foulke situation and declares that the Red Sox did the right thing in pulling him in now. He looks at what the options are now for the team, and how important it is that they get that slot fixed. Jim Donaldson talks to a number of fast-food employees about the struggles of Keith Foulke. You knew somebody was going to do it, it might as well have been Donaldson. Bob Halloran writes that the way the Red Sox fans are treating Foulke shows that they are still the fellowship of the miserable. Howard Bryant, (subscription only)writes that Larry Lucchino has ordered Theo Epstein to go out and make a deal for some relief pitching. He says Epstein is currently pressing the Mariners for either Eddie Guardado or Ron Villone…or both.
I am a little surprised that Manny’s 20th career grand slam and move into sole possession of second place all time in that category isn’t getting more attention. To me, that is a huge record, and another that a lot of people thought might stand forever. The Globe does have a little graphic this morning showing the all time leaders in this category and the names are pretty impressive. People might be surprised to see Robin Ventura high on the list with 18, but the others…Gehrig, Murray, McCovey, Foxx, and Ted Williams are all huge names, and Manny has accomplished his 20 slams in about half the at-bats that it took Eddie Murray to hit 19 and about 1200 at bats fewer than Ventura, and almost 2000 fewer at bats than Ted Williams. Everyone else on the list is over 2000 at bats more than Manny. So why doesn’t this get any attention here? Am I overstating the importance of this record? Perhaps. But I also think that because it is Manny, he’s not going to get his due here. People (media) are fixated on Manny’s contract, and so pretty much whatever he accomplishes, those people are going to say he’s still not worth $20 million a season. Instead, they look for reasons to knock him. They say he is uninterested, doesn’t care. Ironically, that perceived laid back attitude is probably what helps him the most to get the Grand Slams. It’s just another at-bat. If this was anyone other than Manny on the Red Sox moving up on this all-time record, I’d venture to say it would be getting a lot more play around here.
Howard Bryant’s Boston Uncommon (Subscription only) says that Terry Francona’s hands were tied in selecting the All Star team, and that it has hurt him. He has a quote from an unnamed player on the Red Sox who states that Francona should’ve taken care of his own guys, that in fact it was his responsibility to do so, just as Joe Torre used to. Bryant also writes that Francona hasn’t gotten the freedom or perks of a World Series winning manager:
He wins the World Series and his front office indirectly undermines him by not rewarding him with a new contract, a move that sends the wrong message to the players both about Francona's long-term stability and management's belief in his abilities. He has no more power or influence post-champagne spray than he did during the title drought. He was big-footed by baseball on the All-Star selections, plain and simple.
Bryant then goes on to talk about Gary Sheffield and why he wasn’t the bad guy for his comments last week about undermining any team the Yankees traded him to. Bryant says that Sheffield took less years, less upfront money, and didn’t ask for a no-trade clause, wanting to show the Yankees that he wanted to be there and would honor his deal and be loyal to them. He then felt that the Yankees were punishing his loyalty by offering him in a trade. There are no good-soldier clauses in baseball.
Jeff Jacobs says that it’s becoming clear that it will once again be a two-team race between the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East. Craig N Laidis looks at getting Red Sox tickets at a premium through various on-line ticket agencies.
Cafardo’s notebook says that another rehab start is likely for Curt Schilling. That is in fact the lead topic of all the notebooks this morning. Horrigan’s notebook also looks at Francona’s headaches in managing the All Star team, McAdam’s notebook says that the Red Sox are unlikely to hook up with Bret Boone. Heuschkel’s notebook reports that Ortiz and Ramirez are the first set of Red Sox sluggers to each hit 20 home runs prior to the All Star break in consecutive seasons.
Bill Griffith has an interesting look at the changing access to athletes and team personnel for “traditional” media types such as newspapers. Curt Schilling will talk to Dennis and Callahan or call in to the Big Show, but he won’t talk to the beat writers. Keith Foulke does a weekly segment for a truck on WEEI, but doesn’t do all that much talking, either there or in the clubhouse. WEEI has “Patriots Monday” which is a complicated deal now between the station and team. There are many other examples, and many of them boil down to money. He has a couple of smaller side articles with this one, one that looks at the access National TV crews get to NFL teams, access that the local media does not get. He also looks at HBO and ESPN, which will not pay for interviews.
Steve Bulpett takes a look at the Celtics youngsters getting ready for the Las Vegas summer league. Celtics.com has the roster and schedule for the team, and taking a look at the roster, it is stacked with young players. Five first round picks, three second rounders (though Orien Greene will not be playing) and at least a couple other guys (Taylor Coppenrath, Will Bynum) who could very well be on a NBA roster this winter.
Bonnie DeSimone provides the daily update on Lance Armstrong, as he moved into the lead at the Tour De France yesterday.
Get coverage of NYC being ousted from the list of candidates for the 2012 Olympics, Pedro Martinez getting no support as the Mets lose to the Nationals, and the Yankees beating up on the Orioles over at the New York Sports News page.
NESN has Red Sox/Rangers at 8:00. ESPN has Cubs/Braves at 7:00. ESPN2 has Cardinals/Diamondbacks at 10:00.
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