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It might be tough to fathom, considering we’re still in the deep freeze of winter, but baseball season is just around the corner. Spring training begins in just a matter of weeks; before you know it, there will be meaningful action on the diamond once again.

But maybe you’re looking for something to tide you over, to remind you of just why we love the game as much as we do. If that sounds like you – and you’re a Red Sox fan – I might have something for you.

Martin Gitlin’s “The Ultimate Boston Red Sox Time Machine Book” (Lyons Press, $18.95) is a lovely quick-hit journey through Red Sox history, from those early days of success at the dawning of the World Series era to the incredible success of recent days, as well as the long, long, LONG stretch of championship futility that dogged the team through most of the 20th century.

This book offers a condensed timeline of the team’s illustrious history, featuring a number of classic photos to go along with the tales of tribulation and triumph. And while many of these stories will ring familiar to longtime followers of the team, there’s something here for every level of fandom, from the neophytes to the diehards.

Published in Sports

It’s a tale of two candidates in Cooperstown this year.

One was a no-doubter, as obvious a first-ballot shoo-in as there can be; the only question regarding his induction was whether he would become the second ever to be voted in unanimously. The other was a slow burn choice, an underrated player considered elite by the numbers but less so by perception, needing a record vote increase in his final years to make the cut in his last year of eligibility.

Now, they’re both Hall of Famers.

Derek Jeter and Larry Walker have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). Jeter makes it to Cooperstown in his first year on the ballot and Walker in his last, but both absolutely deserve to take their respective places among the immortals.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 19 November 2019 12:02

Who’s heading to the Hall in 2020?

Hall of Fame season is in full swing once again.

The 2020 ballot has landed, with the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) preparing to cast their votes for the players who will join the immortals of the game with plaques hanging in Cooperstown.

We’ve seen an explosion of inclusivity on recent ballots, with the writers voting in 20 players over the past six years. This has eased the glut of qualified candidates somewhat, though there remain a number of problematic names that clog the list.

This year, however, sees just one no-doubt candidate – Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. It’s a departure from recent groups that have almost all featured multiple first-ballot talents. Will this allow for some deserving candidates, heretofore stuck on the fringe, to make their way into these hallowed halls?

We shall see.

Published in Sports

While the official BBWAA Hall of Fame ballots won’t be officially released until next week, there is some Cooperstown news to discuss.

The Veterans Committee process has been overhauled a number of times in recent years, landing on a current format that includes dividing the history of the game into distinct eras and having committees devoted to delving into various candidacies of players who, for whatever reason, missed out during the writers’ balloting process and warrant further attention.

This year is the purview of the Modern Baseball Era Committee, which looks at players and other figures whose greatest contributions to the game occurred during the 1970-1987 timeframe. We’ve got 10 nominees – nine players and one contributor – who are going to get another look at potentially making their way into Cooperstown.

The list consists of: Dwight Evans; Steve Garvey; Tommy John; Don Mattingly; Marvin Miller; Thurman Munson; Dale Murphy; Dave Parker; Ted Simmons; and Lou Whitaker.

The voting for this honor will take place in December during MLB’s annual winter meetings. A 16-person panel, made up of Hall of Famers, executives and media members, will decide; a candidate needs 75% - 12 votes – to be elected.

Let’s have a closer look at a few of the names on this list, men whose Hall of Fame cases never really received the attention that they deserved.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 22 October 2019 13:35

Astros-Nationals: A World Series preview

And then there were two.

We’ve reached the end of the Major League Baseball season. Where once hope sprung in springtime for many of the league’s teams, a long season and arduous postseason have culled all but two squads. The World Series is upon us.

The Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals will face off in the Fall Classic.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 15 October 2019 21:01

A Boston Red Sox All-Decade Team

The 2010s have been a bit of a roller coaster for the Boston Red Sox.

There were two World Series titles – one in 2013 and another in 2018. But there were also a few last-place finishes (2012, 2014, 2015). In 2016 and 2017, the Sox won the AL East, only to fall in the ALDS both seasons; to Cleveland in the former (swept in three) and Houston in the latter (in four games). Oh, and they began the decade with a pair of third-place division finishes in 2010 and 2011.

Good, bad and ugly – that was Boston’s decade. To celebrate the end of this ten-year period, we’re taking a look back and picking out a team made up of those who made the biggest mark over the course of that stretch. Some of the picks are no-brainers, while others require a little more thought.

Enjoy our Red Sox All-Decade Team.

Published in Sports

And here we are. Another MLB regular season has come to an end. The playoffs are in full swing, with the handful of remaining teams doing everything within their power to make it to the World Series.

However, the league’s individual honors aren’t predicated on playoff performance. These awards are for the regular season. And while there was a fair amount of up-and-down over the course of the year, a lot of these names are ones that aren’t the least bit surprising. There are arguments to be made – there always are – but I’m comfortable with the selections that I’ve made. As always with this sort of thing, your mileage may vary.

Here we go: 2019’s final Clubhouse Leaders.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 01 October 2019 16:20

Red Sox Report Card - September 2019

Not exactly the way you want to close out the season, eh?

The Red Sox were eliminated from playoff contention a while ago, but you still have to play out the games. They ended the season at 84-78, a distant third in the division. They won just 11 of their 26 September contests – hardly an inspiring finish, though considering that there was nothing to really play for, it could have been worse.

The team was mediocre or worse in pretty much every aspect of the game in September, though there were a few bright spots – there always are. It was hardly the way the team expected to finish out a season in which they were the defending World Series champions, but that’s the joy and curse of this game – you never know how it’s going to play out.

It was a less-than-stellar final month, to be sure. A month that brought to a conclusion a disappointing season for the Red Sox. We’ll do a more in-depth post-mortem next week, after we’ve all had some time to process. But for now, let’s look at this kind of sad September.

On to the Report Card.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 04 September 2019 11:48

Red Sox Report Card - August 2019

It remains to be seen whether the Red Sox give fans a September to remember, but one thing’s for certain: it was an August worth forgetting.

It was always going to be a struggle for Boston to make up the necessary ground to push their way back into the playoff race. They were going to need a big month. Instead, they got a month that was the epitome of meh. A 14-13 record for August leaves them well behind the wild card frontrunners – the odds of them surging ahead are slim and getting slimmer.

The offense cooled off – no surprise, considering how hot the bats had been for much of the summer – but the pitching failed to pick up the slack, continuing along its sub-mediocre path. The end result was the aforementioned barely .500 record. Aside from a handful of standout performances, pretty much the whole team disappointed to some extent.

It’s hard to complain, what with the still-fresh 2018 title less than a year old. It could be worse. And yet, it would have been nice to see the Sox at least have a chance to go back-to-back. But after a month like this, it doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

On to the Report Card.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 04 September 2019 11:48

Justin Verlander throws third no-hitter

Justin Verlander had a game for the history books.

The Houston Astros pitcher’s already-storied career saw another highlight etched into it this weekend when the 36-year-old hurler threw a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays, winning 2-0. The game missed perfection by just a single walk, issued to Cavan Biggio in just the second at-bat of the contest, but there’s no mistaking the dominance – Verlander struck out 14 along the way. The no-hitter marked his third, and his first since his 2011 MVP/Cy Young-winning season with the Detroit Tigers.

Throwing a no-hitter in the big leagues is a big deal – there have only been just over 300 such games in MLB history, counting combined no-hitters. Throwing two is even more rare – fewer than 40 pitchers in the game’s storied past have ever managed multiple no-hitters.

Three? Three is when you get to the truly rarified air – air now being breathed deeply by Justin Verlander.

Published in Sports
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