Monday, January 3, 2011

When Homers Strike: NESN Writer's Heady Take on Red Sox In '11

Being of Generation Y—loosely defined as the segment of the population who saw Jenny McCarthy's botox-ravaged face on New Year's Eve and wondered where the last 15 years went—I've become quite internet savvy.

That means I can filter out much of what doesn't interest me and gravitate toward content that sits on my Mount Rushmore of internet usage: Fantasy sports/real sports/attractive women/Wikipedia. There's nothing I need on a computer screen that doesn't fit one of those four categories.

But the system isn't perfect. Every so often, information manages to slip in through the grid. That's what happened this morning when I happened upon on an article by senior editor Eric Ortiz titled: "2011 Red Sox Will Challenge 1927 Yankees for Title of Greatest Team in Major League History".

To steal borrow a gimmick from the late Fire Joe Morgan, I'll provide commentary on the piece, which can be found in bold. You probably would've been able to deduce this on your own.

Let's do this.


The Red Sox have won 100 or more games three times in their 110-year existence.

Eric Ortiz starts us off with hard facts, as if to lull the audience into a safe feeling that everything he's about to state should be accepted as common knowledge.

They will make it four in 2011.

See what I mean? For a second, I thought it already happened. Eric Ortiz people. The guy's got a plan.

But this team has the potential to accomplish something even bigger than winning 100 games.

Cure cancer? Find Natalee Hollaway? Host an eating contest between Mo Vaughn and Rich Garces?

The last time the Red Sox reached the 100-win mark was 1946, when they went 104-50-2 and lost the World Series to the Cardinals in seven games.

Prior to that, the Red Sox posted 101 wins in 1915 and 105 in 1912. Both seasons ended with World Series titles.

Again with the facts!!!

Will the duck boats be rolling through the streets of Boston again next fall?

Actually Eric, duck boats will be rolling through the streets of Boston next fall regardless of the team's fortunes. It's a lucrative tourist industry for the city. The link's right here!

Bookmakers like the Red Sox’s chances. Current odds put them at 9-2 to win the 2011 World Series. Only the Phillies, at 7-2, are bigger favorites, with the Yankees not far behind at 5-1 shots.

Wait, so bookmakers don't like the Red Sox's chances. They actually like the Phillies' chances. Right?

Championships, of course, aren’t won in January.

But you said...

But championship teams are built during the offseason, and Theo Epstein has put together a roster that would make Branch Rickey proud.

If this is a reference to Mike Cameron, I'm calling racism.

Look at the starting lineup.

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
David Ortiz, DH
J.D. Drew, RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Marco Scutaro/Jed Lowrie, SS

Speed. Power. Plate discipline. This lineup has it all. Good luck finding a hole from 1 to 7.

Okay, wish me luck. Ellsbury is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he was misdiagnosed by the team's medical staff as the front office openly questioned his desire to be on the field; Pedroia's brother is a pederast (unwarranted dig); Crawford will be dealing with real expectations for the first time, playing in a ballpark that doesn't suit his skill-set; Gonzalez has played his entire career in a indifferent market that never judged him for a bad April; Youkilis does poorly with women (unwarranted dig No. 2, moving on); Ortiz is 35, on the verge of complete physical breakdown, and "magically" regained his bat speed last summer when it started to look like he wasn't going to get paid; J.D. Drew ... c'mon Eric, really?

Saltalamacchia is a bit of a wild card, but the 25-year-old could be ready for a breakout season.

Also, Andy Stankiewicz could come out of retirement, relegate Derek Jeter to the bench, and hit 74 homers.

And whoever is the starting shortstop — Scutaro or Lowrie — gives the Red Sox one of the toughest No. 9 hitters in the game.

Besides a potent offensive attack, the Red Sox will boast airtight defense, perhaps the best of any team in baseball.

Hmmmm...this all sounds familiar...

Turn to the bench, and manager Terry Francona has plenty of options.

Mike Cameron, OF

One injury away from literally exploding on the field.

Darnell McDonald, OF

May have to sneak into camp like Willy 'Mays' Hayes in Major League.

Marco Scutaro/Jed Lowrie, INF

Just to recap, we're being told that these two players represent the best No. 9 hitter in the league and an amazing bench component.

Jason Varitek, C

Actually passed away sometime during the 2006 season. Eric is likely referring to the Jason Varitek statue on Yawkey Way.

Youth, experience and versatility will ride the pine like lions waiting to hunt.

So wait, are they going to chase down opponents and eat them alive? Should the bench technically be called a pride? And if so, shouldn't deaf-90s big leaguer Curtis Pride be involved?

Depth won’t be a problem, especially with players like Ryan Kalish, Lars Anderson and Josh Reddick on the farm.

Rule of thumb: Unless he's the drummer for Metallica, don't count on a guy named Lars for anything.

In 2010, the Red Sox scored 818 runs (second-most in the majors), or 5.1 per game. They hit 211 home runs (second in MLB) and posted a .790 OPS (tops in MLB). The offense, with even more weapons now, could demolish those numbers.

I suppose I should jump in here and mention that the Yankees were first in runs with 859.

Yet one run is all it might take to win a game on some days with the starting staff the Red Sox have assembled.

Jon Lester, LHP
Josh Beckett, RHP
John Lackey, RHP
Clay Buchholz, RHP
Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP

Lester is a Cy Young winner waiting to happen.

Ladies and gentlemen, a genuine point! (round of applause)

Beckett will notch more than six victories.

Yes, perhaps even seven!

Lackey should be better equipped to avoid the one-bad-inning syndrome.

This probably could have used further explanation.

Buchholz has become a force.

Not to mention he can get you a steal of a deal on laptops!

And Dice-K might be the best No. 5 starter ever.


The Japanese right-hander is the only pitcher in the rotation who’s never been an All-Star, but this could be the year he ends that streak.

Yes, but most likely this will be another year where he misses extended time with an injury, needs 110 pitches to complete various five inning-starts, and appears to completely disengage from the world around him. In other words, book that flight to the Midsummer Classic!

Every Red Sox starting pitcher has something to prove. While the Phillies might be the popular choice as the best rotation in baseball, don’t be surprised if people are singing a different tune come October.

I know where you're going with this ... Sweeeeet Carolinnnne ... bap BAP BAP!!!

When Red Sox starters have to hand the ball to the bullpen this season, Boston fans won’t have to have to cover their eyes and pray. The weak link in 2010 could be one of the best relief corps in the business.

Tim Wakefield, RHP
Scott Atchison/Matt Albers, RHP
Hideki Okajima, LHP
Dan Wheeler, RHP
Bobby Jenks, RHP
Daniel Bard, RHP
Jonathan Papelbon, RHP

Okajima is the only known left-handed quantity.

He also hasn't gotten anybody out in three years.

But youngster Felix Doubront has talent and should see some action. Rich Hill, Lenny DiNardo and Andrew Miller also could contribute.

Eric's right. No need to cover your eyes and pray anymore! Lenny DiNardo is on the case!

The right-handers in the mix all bring experience and different styles to the fire. Need long relief? Call on Wakefield to disrupt hitters’ timing.

Or to give you advice on acquiring an AARP card.

Need a middle-inning specialist to get key outs? Wheeler knows how to do the job, and Atchison proved serviceable last season. Albers could be a diamond in the rough. Want heat? Jenks and Bard throw seeds.

I wish I could make a make a bet along the lines of, "When will Bobby Jenks blow a two-run eighth-inning lead at Fenway, then go on a postgame rant blasting the fans for not supporting him and calling out the manager for using him incorrectly?" Is May 1 a safe bet? April 15?

Want to turn out the lights? Papelbon is pitching for a contract, so trust he will be ready to show he’s far from washed up.

Yeah, forget that his numbers have been trending downward for two years and that his team pursued Mariano Rivera to replace him in the offseason. There's no way the completely sane and rational Pap could let those things affect him!

Reliability and consistency -- foreign concepts to Boston’s bullpen last season -- will be common words associated with this group.

Every day should feel like Christmas for Curt Young, the new Red Sox pitching coach.

Which is weird, because he's Jewish.

The former A’s pitching coach didn’t have anything close to the horses he has now, and Oakland’s staff posted a 3.56 ERA last season, the best in the American League and fourth-best in the majors. Imagine what he can do with a Grade A collection of arms.

Hear that Trevor Cahill, Dallas Braden, and Gio Gonazelz? You're nothing without Curt Young! You should just retire now! Better yet, you should become Curt Young's cabana boys!

The Red Sox were slated to win about 95 games last year. They won 89 despite injuries to Pedroia (a former MVP) and Youkilis (a possible future MVP). Add them back, along with the new players and a healthy Ellsbury, and 100 wins doesn’t just appear plausible. It seems downright inevitable.

This is how imagine Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock would write if he were a Red Sox fan.

So does a date with history.

The 2001 Mariners won 116 regular-season games to set the American League record for most wins in a single season and tie the 1906 Cubs for the major league record (though the North Siders accomplished the feat in 152 games). Both those teams failed to win the World Series. The Cubs lost to the White Sox in six games in the Fall Classic. The Mariners didn’t even make it that far, falling to the Yankees in five games in the ALCS.

The Red Sox have no intention of suffering a similar fate.

Though he's probably right, this is an assumption.

The way they are constructed, they could surpass the 116-win mark, but nothing less than a World Series title will make Boston happy.

I agree on the second part. This first part I was skeptical about until I remembered Lenny DiNardo was involved.

The 2011 Red Sox possess all the pieces to have a season for the ages. If everything falls into place and the breaks go their way, they could do more than set records and become champions.

I mean, if everything falls into place and the breaks go their way, they could go 173-0. Why not shoot for the stars at this point, Eric?

They could do more than take their place on Immortality Peak and end up being mentioned in the same sentence as legendary clubs of the past: the 1929 A’s, the epic Yankees teams of the ‘30s, the 1970 Orioles, the 1976 Reds.

OK, where the fuck is Immortality Peak and how can I get there? Also, it seemed kind of weird that the 1998 Yankees and their 125 wins aren't mentioned here, but then I realized that they played in the '30s so Eric did mention them. But then I realized that the 1998 Yankees played in 1998, so he actually completely ignored them. Glad I figured that out.

The 2011 Red Sox could accomplish a feat that has never been done. They could unseat the 1927 Yankees as the greatest major league team of all time.

That would be something to celebrate.

Just like this story.

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at He understands that Eric Ortiz is likely a decent guy, and he means no malice. He thanks Mike Idle (@mpidle) for bringing this to his attention. Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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