FenwayNation 2010 Media Awards

Editors of FenwayNation have announced their 2010 “Best O’ Nation”
Media Awards. The list includes repeat winners Bob Ryan, Dave O’Brien,
Jerry Remy, Rob Bradford, and Dan Roche. Some newcomers to the list are
Amalie Benjamin of the Globe, Mike Fine of the Patriot-Ledger, and Lou
Merloni of WEEI. The Boston Herald was also a repeat winner for its
overall Red Sox coverage. View the entire list of BON winners HERE

Lowell Likely To Retire After Season

2007 World Series MVP Mike Lowell made it pretty clear that he plans on retiring from baseball after the 2010 campaign. He made his comments after yesterday’s 5-0 win over Toronto.

WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon

Please give whatever you can to the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon–all day today and tomorrow.

Pure Boston Baseball

With all the focus on our struggle to reach the post-season, it’s easy to forget how fortunate we are to just enjoy the one truly ‘beautiful game’–(no, not soccer) professional baseball. Forget the PEDs, the salaries, and the controversial instant replays–the pure joy of experiencing baseball on a warm August night is something we should all cherish.

I felt that last night watching the Red Sox beat the Angels, 6-0 at Fenway Park. It started out in the usual angst-ridden way. Angel hurler Jered Weaver had mowed down the first eight Red Sox hitters. Even though Clay Buchholz was almost as effective through three innings, it just seemed that Weaver, with all his stuff working, could not be beaten on this night. You know the feeling.

Then, my 14-year old son and I noticed the sky above Fenway–turning a brilliant mix of azure and pink as the sun set behind the old ballpark. Seconds later, Darnell McDonald sent a rocket over the Monster, shattering the rear car window of some unfortunate fan. Red Sox 1, Angels 0–on the first Boston hit of the night. Good omen.

Later, after walking Mike Lowell semi-intentionally to get to a rookie, Ryan Kalish launched his first grand slam into deep center field, giving the Sox a rocking-chair 5-0 lead. Add to these moments a brilliant over-the-bullpen-fence catch by Torii Hunter (robbing Beltre of a sure HR) and the night became all the more memorable. 

Walking back to our car along a quiet Beacon Street–far from the madding Kenmore Square crowd–it struck us again how lucky we were to witness, first-hand, pure Boston baseball.

Sox Need To Figure Out Papelbon

His sixth blown save was huge. Ahead by 3 in the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox blew a game that would have kept the post-season momentum humming. After Lackey coughed up a HR to cut the lead to 2, Jonathan Papelbon continued his Year From Hell with another blown save and loss. 

With another one-run win for the Empire later in the day, the hopes of a division run faded again. One game can mean a lot.

This off-season, the Red Sox will either have to figure out what’s eating Papelbon or deal him. His value is still high enough to fetch a good return. Next year at this time, he may only draw interest from independent leagues.

The plan to bring along Daniel Bard slowly has worked. We have nothing to fear but more blown saves.

Why NESN Is Fading


There must be a lot of hand-wringing going on at NESN Headquarters on Arsenal Street in Watertown. Ratings are way down for Red Sox broadcasts, and the once endless flow of money is slowing to a trickle. “How can this be?”, they must be asking.

Here are some possibilities. First, the local nine are pretty vanilla in their 2010 incarnation. With Pedey in a walking boot, Papelbon in a blown save funk, and Ellsbury caged by his ribs, Bill Hall and Eric Patterson are just not setting off any viewer fireworks. But, this can’t be the major reason. No matter what anybody says, this is a baseball town. Close to 38,000 still cram the near-100 year old relic on Yawkey Way with Pink Hat enthusiasm every game. We don’t care if they’re boring, they’re ours.

I think the real reason is a lackluster NESN broadcasting product. The Red Sox telecasts are so over-burdened with “drop-in” advertising schlock that you can barely keep up with the balls and strikes. You can literally hear Jerry Remy more often hyping the New York Life “safe at second” pop-up ad than the actual double that got the player to that base. It seems there is a different and more annoying ad after almost every pitch. Literally. It’s getting ridiculous. And it’s getting in the way of enjoying the game. I know they have to make money from advertising–but have some degree of proportionality, for crying out loud.

There’s also another dynamic going on. As more and more fans get the MLB TV package, other team’s broadcasts are seen as more interesting, less ad-heavy and more high-tech. For example, several team broadcasts (even the lowly Pirates games) have Super Slow-Mo replays–which are light years better than the 1990s technology still employed by NESN. This is basically the same phenomenon that makes Fenway Park look so dated and old after you’ve seen Safeco and AT&T.

So, if the Sox want to re-open the money spigot, they has better get up to speed on the technology and cut back on the dumb drop-in ads. That would be a good start.

Is Francona Manager Of The Year?

Red Sox manager Terry Francona
Red Sox manager Terry Francona
(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

I’ll be the first to admit that when the Red Sox named Terry Francona as their new manager, I cringed. He seemed way too giddy for Boston at his introductory news conference. My first thought was,’This guy will be eaten alive within a year”. I could not have been any more off-base.

And despite nabbing two World Series rings already, this year–2010–could be Francona’s most impressive yet. From the outset, the spectre of the dreaded “Bridge Year” hung over this team and colored fan expectations. A slow start, fueled by poor starting pitching, pumped up the angst level even further. On top of all this, Tito had to manage the bruised egos of Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell, two veterans who were being handed diminished roles.

After a bit of a surge in the standings, the injuries struck. A total of 11 bodies hit the DL–several of them of the indispensable variety. Would the Rays and Yankees be as swaggering with that many key players sidelined? On came the Navas and the McDonalds and the Pattersons. Somehow, this team has managed to stay on the periphery of contention.

No matter how the Olde Towne Team finishes up this year, I say Terry Francona deserves serious consideration as Manager of the Year.

Red Sox: Buyers Or Sellers At Trade Deadline?

FN Poll: Should the Red Sox be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? VOTE HERE.

What, Us Worry?

Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino spoke with WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan this morning and basically poo-pooed the idea that the team will be prevented from a major trade by their luxury tax problems. Apparently, there really aren’t any such problems–or so Lucchino says. 

Along with the aptly-named Evil Empire (given that appellation by Lucchino, by the way), the Sox are the only teams that will have to pay any luxury tax in 2010. And, no matter what Larry might say, that has got to hamstring their ability to pull off a deal with serious salary implications in this “bridge” year.

In addition to the tax talk, Lucchino defended the much-maligned Sox medical team–who so far have managed to shelve a record 11 players on the DL amid some controversy.


Opportunity Schlocks

David Ortiz called out at home
David Ortiz called out at home
AP Photo

The Red Sox missed a golden opportunity to gain ground on two division rivals by blowing a 4-0 lead in Oakland, and losing, 5-4 in 10 innings. Tim Wakefield (in what could conceivably be his last start of 2010) was unable to hold the advantage giving up four runs in the 3rd inning.

While the bullpen continued to look better, it is the so-called “meat” of the order that is not doing its job lately. When Marco Scutaro and Darnell McDonald are carrying the offensive load, you’ve got problems. Kudos to Kevin Youkilis, who is the only middle of the order guy holding his own. Youk doubled in a run last night–but a second (and ultimately important) run was cut down at the plate via an ill-advised decision by Tim Bogar to send a huffing and puffing Papi home.

In any event, these are the games you have to win against miserable opponents to stay in contention. Realistically, it looks as if this team desperately needs back Ellsbury, Pedroia and Martinez to bolster a sputtering and inconsistent offense and have any chance to stay in the hunt.