Monday, October 29, 2007

Champions and looking forward...

"Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester are doing something Alex has never done - play in a World Series game," said Peter Gammons last night about newly minted free-agent Alex Rodriguez. "It might be a little bit of a 'buyer beware'. Because, again, he has never played in a World Series game - maybe there's a reason."

Think about that statement from Gammons - the so-called best player in baseball has never helped a team get to the World Series. Never.

On a night when the Sox clinched the World Series in a sweep for the second time in four seasons, A-Rod's agent Scott Boras announced that the Yankees third baseman was opting out of his contract. Never mind that there was no reason this announcement couldn't wait until this morning. In a clear effort by Boras to, in some way, keep the focus on his client rather than the World Series, A-Rod and/or his agent engaged in a classless move there, making the announcement during game four. Gammons himself referred to the incident as a complete lack of respect for the game of baseball.

Let's face it, the best thing to happen to the Red Sox in the last five years was the MLB Player's Association nixing the contract renegotiation between the Red Sox and the would-be Red Sox short stop. The Sox would have sent Manny Ramirez - the Manny of the almost .500 post season batting average - for A-Rod, who has been brutally bad during baseball's second season. Where would the Sox be with A-Rod's anemic post-season bat in the middle of the line-up instead of ManRam's?

I'm guessing, as Red Sox fans, the Nation would still be waiting for the first World Series title since 1918.

Once each of his previous teams, the Mariners and the Rangers, rid themselves of A-Rod, those teams averaged somewhere around eight more wins per season for the first three seasons after Rodriguez's departure. The Yankees averaged 96.75 wins per season with A-Rod. The three seasons prior to his arrival? 99.67. Sure, a drop-off of three games per year isn't huge, but it's still a drop off and when combined with the following fact, it's a serious indictment of what his impact on a team really is - for the three seasons he played for the Rangers, Texas won 73, 72, and 71 games respectively (the Yankees won 101 his first season with the team, a total down to 94 this season), but for the first three seasons after A-Rod left the confines of Arlington, the Rangers 89, 79, and 80 games respectively - an average improvement of eight games per year.

Theo - stay the hell away from A-Rod! Let the Giants go get him. Resign Mike Lowell...hell, move Lugo to third. Whatever you do, don't sign A-Rod.

As for Lowell - congratulations to the World Series MVP. I'm glad you won, man, considering you probably won't win AL MVP in a season where you picked up the slack for an ailing pair of sluggers in Big Papi and ManRam. You might have been the most important piece at the plate for the BoSox this season. I hope to see you back again next year. If not, then thanks for one incredible run from a guy that the Marlins thought was done and was a throw-in in the Beckett deal.

I said it before and I'll say it again - hey Curt, thanks again, big guy. It's been almost a century since we had two titles in baseball and you were integral to bringing us two this decade. Good luck wherever you end up next year - you're never going to have to pay for another drink anywhere in Red Sox Nation again.

It was tough to see Okajima run out of gas those last two games, but what a way to crank through the Rockies in game two, when the Sox were hanging onto a one-run lead. It didn't feel like anyone on the roster failed to contribute. Hell, Bobby Kielty, the late-season addition on the bench for the stretch run, hit a pinch-hit game winning homer. The Red Sox rookies, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia sparked the top of the line-up.

They were clicking on all cylinders for four games, and now it's time for the amphibious vehicles to drive the Sox through the Back Bay.

The Monster of the Mid-Way...

Somewhere along the line the Patriots signed a career back-up line-backer away from the Pittsburgh Steelers and he became the best 'backer on one of the top defenses in the NFL.

For all the talk about Adalius Thomas coming to the team (and don't get me wrong, it was an important signing), Vrabel has been a beast. In yesterday's 52-7 thrashing of the Secondstrings, I'm sorry, I mean Redskins, Vrabel caught a pass for a touchdown, accounted for 11 tackles, three sacks for 20 yards in losses, and forced three fumbles - one on each sack.

Vrabel currently leads the team with 7.5 sacks (a pace to get 15 for the season), and is second on the team with 42 total tackles (Tedy Bruschi leads with 49).

Marketing faux-pas...

One last note before I get some sleep because my two-month old is finally napping...

The autumn after the NFL cancelled NFL Europe, the league played their first ever regular season game on European soil in order to expand the game's fan base. After watching yesterday's exercise in tedium at London's Wembley Stadium, a place where NFL Europe abandoned for lack of interest, the NFL did itself no favors and likely garnered no new fans.

From a marketing stand-point, why would the NFL even pick a Dolphins team that has been moribund for about half-a-decade in an effort to bring new fans to the table? And why London?

Originally the World League of American Football, and eventually NFL Europa, the league slowly, but surely migrated from London, to Scotland, to Germany. Why didn't this happen in Germany? There's already a fan base there, there are NFL ready stadiums there, and this would have been a great bone to throw to a German fan base that set an attendance record for NFLE this past spring.

Yes, I get that the idea that it's about growing the sport - but start with where there's already a foothold. Grow that fan-base a little more, ensure its loyalty, then move onto the more fringe areas.

And, fergodsakes, send them two quality teams.


Dave said...

And shame on Fox for assisting in that bullshit. I was so pissed to see it. Remy ripped them a new one on NESN's post-game.

If Gammons says it's a bad idea, that settles it for me.

Kevin Smith said...

Arguably the best baseball writer in the last 50 year? Yeah. Same goes for me.

As for Fox breaking it - as a reporter, I get it - you can't sit idly by while other outlets are reporting it. If anything, the me-first A-Rod and his agent deserve the rips.

sugarshane024 said...

It certainly was a great night and a great season for the Sox. With the ARod situation and with Lowell's and Schilling's pending free agencies, things could continue to be interesting for the Sox in the offseason.

By the way, let me clarify my stance on ARod. By no means do I want the Sox to get rid of Lowell if they don't have to. He's been as good a player as anyone for the Sox this season and postseason. But if the Sox decide to let him walk to get ARod, I can't argue against it.

Kevin Smith said...

I know you think differently on A-Rod, but I think it's pretty easy to take issue with a stat machine that has never helped a team get to the World Series. Last time I checked, as a team, the goal is to win championships, not to have someone that can put up MVP numbers, yet not have an MVP effect on a team.