Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

Posts Tagged ‘Boston Red Sox’

Five things I hate about Mut & Merloni

Posted by bdowd625 on November 16, 2011

(Having trouble sleeping? Tune in!)

It’s time to debut a new feature here at Ramble On, one I’d like to call “Five Things.” Today’s edition centers around Mut & Merloni, WEEI’s midday radio show. I was driving around earlier this afternoon, doing my usual flip-flopping between WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub, when I landed on Mike Mutnansky and Lou Merloni bitching about David Ortiz’s contract situation. The duo was having the most pathetically bland conversation you could possibly imagine, which prompted me to come up with my inaugural topic for “Five Things.” Away we go:

* Merloni brings zero to the table except for a little bit of baseball knowledge, and even that’s sketchy at best. He often provides more questions than answers. Hey, Lou, we’re listening to you to get some insight on the local sports teams, not to hear the following: “What’s going to happen in the Red Sox clubhouse next year? Will there still be beer? Will the starting pitchers be forced to sit in the dugout all game? Will I still have a job at this radio station next year? I really don’t know. We’re just going to have to wait and see.” Here’s an idea. Get off your ass and go find out for us.

* Mutnansky would rather talk to New England’s pro athletes about their Twitter accounts instead of asking actual thought-provoking questions. “Hey, Patrick Chung, why haven’t you tweeted about the Oregon Ducks’ latest crappy uniforms?” Newsflash, Mut. No one gives a shit.

* Troy Brown always has to be in studio when they interview any of the Patriots, because he’s the only one who has a clue about football. Thank God we don’t have to listen to the two of them talk to Bill Belichick. That would be unnecessarily painful.

* The constant references to the University of Connecticut (Mut’s alma mater) and Providence College (Merloni’s) make me sick. Congrats, guys, you went to college. So did most of us – we just don’t get paid six figures a year to lull people to sleep on the radio every day.

* The Penn State scandal has forced these two to recycle and regurgitate the same played-out news that we’ve been hearing for the last two weeks. Why don’t you try to focus on a new viewpoint when it comes to this topic? Nevermind, I just changed the station.


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Cox calls it a career

Posted by Bill Koch on October 12, 2010

We would be slacking on our responsibilities here at Ramble On if we let tonight pass without a word about Bobby Cox, the Atlanta Braves’ manager who walked off the diamond for the final time after his club was dropped out of the National League Division Series by the San Francisco Giants in four games.

It’s oddly fitting that San Francisco is the team that ended Cox’s storied career, because he is one of the true modern giants of the game. We won’t see many men who last two uninterrupted decades with any baseball team in any capacity ever again. Free agency and durability questions make it virtually impossible as a player while the crushing demand to win and the impatience of ownership makes it virtually impossible as a manager or general manager.

Cox has survived the test of time thanks to brilliant pitching (Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz chief among them), clutch performances from a handful of terrific position players (Terry Pendleton, Ron Gant, David Justice, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Brian McCann come to mind) and steady, understanding ownership (working for Ted Turner is much less complex than trying to last under the late George Steinbrenner, for example). It was a perfect storm of circumstances that brought Cox to the moment when he tipped his cap to the Turner Field crowd one last time after Monday’s 3-2 loss to San Francisco. It was all of the above that helped Cox lead his teams to 16 postseasons, a Major League Baseball record that should stand for a long while.

Want some local perspective? Let’s turn to the Boston Red Sox for some examples. Theo Epstein, the man who built the team that broke The Curse, can’t do it – he skipped town in a gorilla suit once before and won’t have the stomach to last under this spotlight forever. Terry Francona, the man who managed that Red Sox team and still currently fills out the lineup card, can’t do it – his health has been in decline since the day he took the job due to the incomparable stress of dealing with 162 one-game seasons per year. None of their players will be able to do it – pitchers both young (Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard) and old (Tim Wakefield) won’t last that long, the position players who were the cornerstones are gone (Manny Ramirez, Trot Nixon, Johnny Damon) or almost gone (David Ortiz, Jason Varitek), the veterans (Kevin Millar, Dave Roberts) have retired and moved on with their lives. None of those men who made history of their own can do what Cox has done. Very few in the game that we love the most can say that they have.

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Bloody Sunday for Americans at Ryder Cup

Posted by Bill Koch on October 3, 2010

I’m not even sure if I want to get up at 4 a.m. to watch the conclusion of what is shaping up to be an American execution at the 2010 Ryder Cup.

This might be my favorite golf competition of them all, ranked above The Masters and the U.S. Open, but not when it goes like it did Saturday. Europe dominated from start to finish and will take a 9.5-6.5 lead into the predawn hours here on the East Coast for the Ryder Cup’s first ever Monday finish.

The Americans were exposed by the Euros’ superior depth on Saturday, as all 12 players from each team were in action in both the four-ball and alternate-shot formats. No matter the rules, the Euros showed no mercy and were able to turn around the 6-4 advantage that the Americans built through the rain-soaked opening two days of play.

Another weather suspension pushed Sunday’s play back into the Welsh evening, but nothing could have stopped the solid play of the hosts and the poor play of their guests from continuing. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the alleged No. 1 and No. 2 players in the world, respectively, can stand at the head of the goat line for the Americans. Woods suffered the worst Ryder Cup loss of his career when he and Steve Stricker were crushed 6 and 5 by Luke Donald and Lee Westwood and Mickelson has contributed nothing to the proceedings in three days – he’s 0-3 while partnering with young guns Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. Westwood, meanwhile, has been absolutely brilliant and is now officially The Best Player To Have Never Won A Major, a title that Mickelson held for so long before breaking through at Augusta in 2004.

Yes, I’ll probably be tuned in sometime before the sun comes up this morning to see how this all ends up. This feeling I’m having right now is similar to two other sporting moments in my lifetime, and they both turned out pretty well – the 1999 Ryder Cup at The Country Club in Brookline and the 2004 ALCS when the Boston Red Sox battled the New York Yankees. I was pretty hopeless in both of those circumstances and those were two miracles that ended up going my way. Do I expect the same thing to happen in Wales tomorrow? It doesn’t matter. Like I told my Dad when he ripped me for time-wasting while watching Game 4 in 2004, I just have to see what happen this time.

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Posted by Bill Koch on October 1, 2010

Yet another milestone today for us here at Ramble On, and we couldn’t have done it without all of your support.

My man BDowd and I extend our sincere thanks to all of you for helping us reach 20,000 hits all-time on our website. We do this writing thing for a living, but Ramble On is strictly fun for us. We fire some opinions out there, try to stoke some opinion, get after some egos that we think need deflating and touch on some topics that we throw back and forth outside of our professional lives. The fact that we get to entertain all of you is nothing but a bonus and a pleasure.

Thanks again to everyone who has visited this page. We promise to keep bringing it like we always have in the weeks and months to come.

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So long, sweet summer…

Posted by bdowd625 on September 7, 2010

I’m officially waving goodbye to the 2010 Boston Red Sox tonight. Like most of my fellow Sox fans out there, I’ve known for a while now that this team had a snowball’s chance in hell of making the playoffs. And yet somehow I kept getting sucked back in, night in and night out. That infuriating trend ends tonight.

When the Sox needed a big outing from Daisuke Matsuzaka against the Rays, they got nothing. It’s so typical of this team, which always seemed on the cusp of making a breakthrough only to let it slide by the wayside. I suppose it’s a good thing that Matsuzaka got shelled tonight because the Sox were foolishly thinking of starting Clay Buchholz on three days rest tomorrow. Yeah, let’s jeopardize the future of our best starter just to have John Lackey choke away the momentum a few days later. I’m getting angry just sitting here.

With that said, it’s time for me to let go of this baseball season and look forward to the Patriots, Bruins and Celtics, all of whom will be returning in the next two months. As much as it pains me to kiss summer goodbye, it’s really the only logical choice left. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go join BK1015 for a beer. He had the Sox pegged from the get-go. Suits me right for being an optimist.

P.S. Did anyone hear Terry Francona’s interview on WEEI’s The Dale & Holley Show last Wednesday? He was being an impatient prick who simply didn’t want to face the fact that he’s been a mediocre manager at best this season. Can’t wait for more whining out of him on tomorrow’s show.

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It’s about time…

Posted by bdowd625 on September 4, 2010

We here at Ramble On awoke to news this morning that former Red Sox slugger and resident knucklehead Manny Ramirez had apologized for his childish behavior during his eight-year tenure with Boston. Gee, Manny, thanks for the timeliness, you asshat. It only took two whole years for you to spit it out. You could have salvaged your legacy here had you done this when you originally shot your way out of town in August of 2008.

But really, we didn’t need the apology. We knew the second you moved on to the Los Angeles Dodgers that everything was your fault. We argued against fanboys like T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times, insisting that the honeymoon period would come to an abrupt and ugly end. And we were right. Eventually the Dodgers couldn’t deal with your immature shit either, and owner Frank McCourt – currently in a major financial crisis – shipped you off without a second thought simply to pocket a little extra cash.

For all the ridiculous talent you have Manny – and it can be argued that your use of female fertility drugs helped bolster that talent – your shenanigans simply weren’t worth it. Thanks for the World Series titles and the memories, both good and bad. But your someone else’s problem now, and that’s certainly fine by me.

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A tale of two pitchers

Posted by bdowd625 on August 31, 2010

Words can’t even begin to express how deliriously happy I am right now, and, miraculously, it’s because of something the Red Sox did. Boston traded reliever Manny Delcarmen to the Colorado Rockies earlier today, bringing an end to a six-year reign of terror in the bullpen. On the surface, Delcarmen’s story is one you can get behind. He’s originally from Hyde Park, a hometown kid playing out his baseball dreams down the street at Fenway Park. But before I start to sound too much like Bill Reynolds of The Providence Journal, I’ll snap you back to reality. Delcarmen was AWFUL with the Sox. I can remember maybe one span – one! – during his time in Boston where I felt confident when he came into a game. For the majority of his time here, though, it’s been a bunch of 90-mph fastballs right down the dick that ended up getting swatted into the bleachers. Good riddance, Manny. I can’t wait to see how far those gopher balls travel in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.

At the opposite end of the spectrum we have Pedro Martinez. Martinez did an interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub tonight, bringing back fond memories of his ridiculously dominant run as a member of the Red Sox. Chances are we’ll never see anyone else like Pedro again and, honestly, I’m OK with that. In his prime, there was no one better. I’ll forever be thankful for what he and his teammates did in 2004 to end an 86-year World Series drought. Pedro genuinely enjoyed pitching in Boston and watching him was something I won’t soon forget.

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Time to stick a fork in the Red Sox

Posted by Bill Koch on August 30, 2010

This will be the last Boston Red Sox post that you’ll see on Ramble On from me this year.

I make that decision today because the season is now officially over. Boston’s 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday night dropped the Red Sox 6.5 games behind the Rays and the New York Yankees with just 31 to play, an insurmountable deficit when you’re looking at two teams of that caliber. Those guys aren’t the New York Mets. They’re not choking after rolling through their first 130 games a full 30 over the .500 mark.

The true shame is that Boston didn’t have to lose two out of three games at The Trop Dump this weekend. The Red Sox could have won all three. They were there for the taking. We already told you how we think Boston fumbled away Saturday’s game. Sunday brought more embarrassment, only this time it came on a national stage for all to see.

— Fate dictated that John Lackey would start this game. The most disappointing member of the 2010 Red Sox was the only fitting man to preside over their funeral, and he did it in typical Lackey fashion. He blew a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning and had his declining stuff exposed yet again when Carl Crawford hit a two-run homer that was on its way toward the Gulf of Mexico before it slammed into the right field bleachers. Lackey was left out there to rot like fish in the blazing sunshine in the seventh before leaking another run, sealing Boston’s doom for the night and the season.

— We thought that the Little League World Series game was over before Boston battled Tampa. Apparently, the Red Sox are operating under the Williamsport guidelines that everybody on the team has to play. Starting Yamaico Navarro at second base instead of Jed Lowrie was an asinine decision. Yes, Navarro drove in a run with a single, but he also struck out twice against James Shields and had no business being in a game of this magnitude with Lowrie having hit safely in 11 of his last 14. If Lowrie isn’t healthy enough to play three or four days straight, release him and get someone who can get the job done. We already saw what happened last year when Rocco Baldelli and his mitochondrial disease/HIV virus/ebola-type symptoms ate up one of Boston’s slots on the 25-man roster for six months.

— This Manager was at his worst in this series when the Red Sox needed good decisions the most. His blundering continued into Sunday when he penciled Navarro into the lineup, stayed with Lackey way too long and failed to make the correct pitching changes yet again. Lackey should never have been allowed to start the seventh inning after giving up the lead in the sixth. Replacing him with Hideki Okajima to face Carlos Pena was just fine – lefty-lefty is a very good idea against Pena, a strikeout machine – but leaving Okajima in to face Evan Longoria was like turning Ron Jeremy loose on a house full of nymphomaniacs. Boston was lucky that Longoria only lined a single to center field. Most of us were expecting a three-run homer that would have busted the game wide open. And stop before you insist that Okajima was left in so that he could face another lefthanded hitter. Felix Doubront could have come out of the bullpen to replicate the lefty-lefty matchup one more time and keep it a one-run deficit. It’s decisions like these that have dropped the This Manager and the Red Sox to 7-22 in games against the Rays decided by two runs or less since 2008. Two of those games this weekend are the reasons why we won’t see you again until the offseason.

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This Manager strikes (out) again

Posted by Bill Koch on August 29, 2010

If you watched the Boston Red Sox last night, you now understand why I’ve never been a fan of This Manager.

He was up to his usual tricks as Tampa Bay pulled out a 3-2 win against the Red Sox in 10 innings at The Trop Dump. Dan Johnson’s solo homer off Scott Atchison to lead off the bottom of the 10th ensured that Boston wouldn’t sweep the three-game series and put the Red Sox right back where they started the weekend – 5.5 games behind the Rays and staring at fading postseason hopes.

This Manager made poor decisions with his pitching staff yet again, and yet again he’ll go unquestioned by the lemmings in Pink Hat Nation because of his past success. Leaving Clay Buchholz out there to rot into the eighth inning, limiting Daniel Bard to just the ninth and putting Atchison in the game in a key spot were acts of lunacy.

Let’s start with Buchholz, who entered the eighth with his gas tank just about on ‘E’. Boston had just taken a 2-1 lead thanks to a solo homer by Victor Martinez, his third bomb in two games of the Red Sox biggest series of the season. Everything was set up perfectly to use Bard in the eighth and Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth, giving both pitchers a clean start to his respective inning. Instead, Buchholz was trotted back out there after seven strong to give it up to B.J. Upton.

This Manager didn’t stop there. He brought Bard in for the ninth in a 2-2 game and the electric righthander set down the side on 10 pitches. If there was ever a position that screamed for Bard to work another inning, this was it. Instead, Atchison was summoned from the bullpen to pitch the 10th and the predictable ending played itself out. Maybe This Manager didn’t want to overwork Bard, and that’s his own fault as well. If he didn’t appear in half of Boston’s games through the first 100 the organization might be a little more lenient about putting some extra miles on his golden arm. It’s a cumulative effect that people don’t usually remember, and that’s why we’re pointing it out here.

Last night’s game sheds some pretty bright light on why This Manager is just 7-21 against his counterpart, Tampa manager Joe Maddon, in games decided by two runs or less since 2008. It’s yet another example of why This Manager isn’t the God among men that so many people in Pink Hat Nation think he is. Decisions like these are why This Manager is so hated in Philadelphia after guiding the Phillies to four straight sub-.500 seasons before being fired and why he’s so lucky that the Red Sox front office handed him a Rolls Royce team in 2004 and 2007. He can’t be expected to make the difference in big games thanks to his own decision-making ability. You’ll all be watching the postseason on television this year in New York, Tampa, Texas and Minnesota while the Boston market remains silent, and you don’t need to look back any further than Saturday night to find out why.

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