Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes checks in every week to answer your questions on the Red Sox. Ask yours now, and come back next week to see whether it was answered.
Hey folks, before I get started, I want to invite all 'Baggers to the charity event I'm having in Chicago. Terry Francona will be the special guest at "Edes and Friends" to benefit the Jimmy Fund this Saturday night at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery restaurant, 1 W. Grand Ave., right on the Red Line subway back from the Red Sox-White Sox game.
Many of the writers and voices who tell you about the Sox every season will be there, including Tina Cervasio of NESN, Joe Castiglione and Dave O'Brien of WEEI/WRKO, Amalie Benjamin of the Globe, Tony Maz, Rob Bradford and Steve Buckley of the Herald, Sean McAdam of the Providence Journal/WEEI/ESPN.com, Jeff Goldberg of the Hartford Courant, Ian Browne of MLB.com, Bill Ballou of the Worcester Telegram, and others.
Cool tickets for Sox, Pats, and Celts games will be offered in silent and live auctions, along with other hard to get memorabilia items. There will be musical entertainment as well.
It seems like every time Francona sends someone in to pinch hit, they get out. Can you provide us with some stats to show how well these pinch hitters have worked out?
Dylan Brooks, Stamford, Conn.
A: Dylan, I can do that. The Sox come into Wednesday's night game ranked 11th in the AL in pinch hitting with a .170 average (9 for 53). Only the Royals, Mariners, and D-Rays are worse. The league average is just .213; the Twins rank first at .299 (20 for 67). Jason Varitek (2 for 4) and Eric Hinske (2 for 9) are the only Sox pinch hitters with as many as two pinch hits this season. The pinch hitter is used far less frequently, of course, in the AL than the NL because of the DH.
Hi Gordon- Question for ya. Do you get tired of answering so many long-winded, stupid questions? I still have all the faith in the world, though like many cause for concern. From where I see it Gagne's fastball just doesn't cut it like it used to. Shouldn't he be relying on more on his off-speed stuff? Anyway looking forward to my first Fenway experience. It's going to be one of my long waited dreams come true!! We're going to beat the YANKS and I'm going to see it LIVE!!
Andrew Dill, Windsor, Nova Scotia
A: Andrew, there are more than enough good letters to offset the wacky ones, which have their own entertainment value, I suppose. I don't know if you saw my breakdown this week on Gagne's fastball usage, but I advise you to check it out. You can find it here:
When I watch the Sox, I see how Pedroia performs for his salary and then I see Lugo just to name one of several on the team pulling in MILLIONS and I wonder just what is wrong with this entire picture. Any thoughts?
Marj Kuhn, Fairview, N.J.
A: Marj, one of these days Pedroia will be making millions, too, and he'll be playing just as hard. I don't see a lack of effort on Lugo's part, just some erratic play. Baseball's big paydays are weighted toward guys with service time, although top draft choices are now drawing millions as well.
Gordon- please tell me that you only choose to publish the most passionate questions from readers and that all this negativity and anger doesn't accurately reflect the bulk of your correspondence. Please? If my only view of Red Sox Nation was through the Mailbag, I would think that the "fans" truly despised everything about this team -- the players, the management, the coaches, the park... even each other! Geez.... this is still supposed to be fun, isn't it?
Tom Magner, North Reading
A: Tom, I try to strike a balance, but I've got to tell you, I don't get too many letters telling me how thrilled they are that the team is in first place, or what a good job Theo or Tito are doing. Much of the correspondence is venting about one thing or another, which I suppose reflects how much people care about the team. Maybe for some folks, that IS fun, that and seeing how I respond.
I watch the Red Sox on my computer whenever they aren't on television (and that's a lot). While Big Papi's injuries have been well documented, I'm wondering what the power issue is with Manny. He's always hit to all fields, but this year he seems to be swinging late far more often than ever before, and the number of third strikes he takes is shocking. Are there physical problems or just mental mistakes? I watched him in Seattle recently. On the Friday night he looked like a zombie - he didn't seem to be in touch with reality. The next night he was a dynamo in one of the most exciting games you could imagine, I know that the common refrain is simply "Manny's being Manny" but does he just turn it on and off as a matter of routine? We're told he works hard, and he's obviously Hall of Fame potential, but he doesn't run out grounders and seems to fall asleep on the bases and sometimes in left field as well. Iss he really trying? Mike Lowell, Justin Pedroia, Youlis and Varitek must squirm every time they see him make a mockery of hustle.
Brian McCristall, Coquitlam, B.C. Canada
A: Brian, Manny's shortcomings have been well documented over the years, and most of his teammates have long since accepted them as part of the tradeoff of having such a great hitter in their midst. I would not pretend to be able to get inside Manny's head, but I will tell you that IMO, the power dropoff is probably consistent with the fact that at this stage of his career, he's going to get beaten on pitches that he used to devour in the past. Only the Barry Bonds of the world see their power numbers spike as they get older, and we don't have to discuss how that happened, do we? Actually, I researched his strikeout numbersâhe's taken a called strike 35 times this seasonâbut that's about in line with where he's been in the past.
This is with regards to the several questions/comments suggesting that the Sox should cut off beer "after the 5th or 6th inning" and that "some people drink too much as though it is a right." While I acknowledge it is not a "right" to engage in any behavior otherwise illegal whilst drunk, the complainants should be aware that (1) getting as drunk as you want is a right so long as it is no violation of other laws and (2) I was just at "pristine Camden" and bought beer (heaven forbid) all the way through the 8th. Further, bad actors are bad actors, sober or inebriated. And finally, and I can't believe I even have to write this, the "drunks" will not stay away from the proposed new stadium any more so than Fenway, no more so than they stay away from RFK (where I live) Camden (where I frequent) or Fenway (where I love to visit). And as anyone who has ever gone to a SEC or ACC football game can tell you (which I have), or many, many others I suspect, blocking beer sales at the game or stopping them early only leads to more drinking prior to arrival (and far worse behavior upon arrival). So please spare me these arguments that Sox management should be more folk's parents. It's naive and juvenile.
A: Chris, it's not every day one gets to read an e-mail with the word âwhilstâ in it. I imagine the Sunday Times crossword is a piece of cake to you. You make a lot of valid arguments; Fenway is not an island of debauchery in the sea of sobriety. The vast majority of fans everywhere behave themselves, and while I agree that bad actors are generally bad actors, there are some who are emboldened to greater acts of stupidity by whatever they're ingesting. It's not exactly a news bulletin that civility has taken a hit across the board in our culture; I await the day when the pendulum swings back the other way, but in the meantime, I think people should complain to ushers or security if someone is ruining their experience. For what fans pay to watch a game, they're entitled to at least that much.
Sigh... Is this really Gordo or Charles Steinberg? Gordo, when did you start channeling Joe Goebbels? Yes, they have the best record in baseball. But they are the same 24 games over that they were at the end of May. That is almost three months of .500 baseball. As far as the offense, how many games have we seen them score 0 or 1 run going into the 6th inning? I still think they have the horses to make it to the show, but a bit of objectivity would be appreciated.
Steve Manganiello, Pleasanton, Calif.
A: Steve, Joe Goebbels? Unless you're just showing off your knowledge of Nazi war criminals, you've got to be kidding, introducing him into this conversation. Ach du lieber, as they'd say in the neighborhood. Here's some objectivity for you: The Red Sox begin [Wednesday] six games ahead of the Yankees. They have the best record in baseball. They're 26 games above .500, the highest they've been over the breakeven point this season. They're 23-16 since the All-Star break. They've had one losing month, June, and that was only one game under .500. They will be playing in October, and they just might be parading down the Charles again in November.
Regarding the recent flurry of comments regarding the "Fenway Experience," I have driven from N.J. to Fenway three times this year and may make another trip up before the season ends. I love the changes management has made to Fenway in recent years and consider the ball park to be one of the true treasures in the game. Fenway Park is one of my favorite places in the world. Maybe I've just been sitting in the wrong seats this season but I've encountered no drunks, very little foul language (and I had my kids with me on two of the trips), and have been amazed at how responsive the Fenway personnel have been over the past couple of seasons. It's a remarkable change from my first trips to Fenway back in the late 70's.
Jim Monaghan, N.J.
A: Jim, Good to hear from the other side as well.
The Red Sox made what turned out to be an major acquisition in 1967 by signing Elston Howard. Who's available in 2007? P.S. Are you related to Benjamin Edes, co-owner of the Boston Gazette and Patriot in 1775?
A: Frank, the Sox are hoping that Eric Gagne is the guy who proves to be the difference-maker, like Orlando Cabrera was in 2004, to cite an example a little more recent than Elston, for whom I have great respect but am not quite sure that he played a major role in the Sox success in '67. And while I can't make a direct connection to Benjamin Edes, I'm claiming him as one of my own. He was a patriot and member of the Sons of Liberty, and a pal of Paul Revere. It was in the house of Benjamin Edes that Revere and the rest of the Sons of Liberty changed into their Indian costumes prior to the Boston Tea Party.
Gordon, not so much a question as a comment. I have read your last two mailbags and wonder when (if ever) Sox fans will be satisfied. Since Theo took over in '03, we went to the postseason three consecutive seasons - first time ever for the franchise. We have the best record in baseball, and even if we are unable to hold off the hard charging Bombers, we have the inside track to the wild card, since the Angels and Mariners will be the same down-the-stretch battle of attrition that the Sox-Yankees often are. We have to consider ourselves fortunate that the schedule makers had the majority of Sox-Yankees matchups during the time the Yankees were not playing their best. I agree with the commentary about Gagne, and I am unsure why, when he seems to have rounded back into shape, Mike Timlin is no longer trusted with pitching in key situations (but then I don't see a lot of games and have to rely on internet and box scores). In any case, when will Sox fans be satisfied? I think, unfortunately, that the World Series win has done less to change the mentality of most Sox fans than was thought it would. Even as I worry through parts of the season, I think this is the best time in history (at least in my lifetime) to be a Sox fan! Finally, I agree with the commentary about the obnoxiousnes of many fans at the games, but until someone invents a "butthead" meter, it's hard to tell ahead of time who exactly management should ban from the ballpark.
Larry Howser, Oxnard, Calif.
A: Larry, I'm not sure we'll ever achieve that state of grace in which Sox fans will sit back and be content with their lot in life, rooting on a perennial contender that is setting itself up, with a productive farm system, to remain that way for some time to come. Is this the best time ever to be a Sox fan? I don't know, we've been spoiled for decades, from the time Smokey Joe and then the Babe and Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper, et al were winning in the teens, to Ted and the '46 and '49 teams, Yaz and the Impossible Dreamers, the El Tiante-Lynn-Rice-Fisk years, the Morgan Miracle, Mo and Pedro...on and on it goes. The great thing about being a fan today...between NESN and MLB.com, you never have to miss a game.
Gordon, Loved the August 20 blog. We, me included, got to do our usual whining about the team, and you had a lot of good commentary on Fenway Park. Long before the internet I seem to remember that Boston sportswriters had a reputation for being tough on the Sox. You, on the other hand, seem to me to be pretty balanced.
Creighton Abrams, Springfield, Va.
A: Creighton, thanks. The only time my balance suffers is when I have to walk and chew gum at the same time!
Gordon, Love the column but I've had it with all the cry babies who think they have all the answers and if they were in charge every trade and free agent signing would be perfect. Just ask yourself this question: How many other fans would give their first born for the success the Sox have had of late. Imagine what it must be like to be a Royals of Pirates fan. No hope at all!!!! Give Theo a break and look at the body of work. A world series win, a farm system that is starting to produce first line major league players and in the pennant race every year. Yes, I was upset when Theo did not resign Orlando Cabrera and I have no idea what he sees in J D Drew. But all in all, Theo has been fine and I trust he will continue to do a fine job.
Brian Beachum, Apex, N.C.
A: Brian, man, I'm overdosing on all these positive vibes. To the guy from Pleasanton, I promise you, I'm not making these letters up.
This is in response to Richard Cederman's e-mail last week. We mentions that he is a life long Red Sox Fan. I have been a Cincinnati Reds fans since the late 60's (Johnny Bench's Rookie Year). I have lived in Mass. my WHOLE life and I am tired of Sox fans complaining about the Ed Armbrister bunt in '75. All Red Sox Fans...PLEASE watch the play without your Red Sox Bias. Ed Armbrister DID stop in front of Fisk and they bumped into each other. But PLEASE watch the rest of the play as well. When Fisk threw the ball to 2nd base, he had a wide open lane with NOTHING in his way. It was an error plain and simple. Get over it!!! John Beaulieu, Springfield
A: John, in these parts, that's a debate you're never going to win. Sorry.
Hey Gordon. Had to get this off my chest. I read last weeks mailbag and couldn't believe it. Now I understand why some Red Sox fans get such a bad name. We are in first place with the best record in baseball. Come on! Give Gagne a break, he's always been a stud. Can anyone just sit back and enjoy? We've won a world series now, stop the whining, there's no more curse. Embrace the team we have. We're good enough to win it all. I can't stand the Yankees or anyone who roots for them, but at least they expect to win. Try it!
Craig Powers, Dallas
A: OK, Craig, that's it. The mailbag is now closed on the account of happiness. Imagine that!
Join Gordon Edes and other Boston sportswriters at the Rock Bottom Brewery in Chicago on Aug. 25 (8-11 p.m.) for an evening of baseball to benefit the Jimmy Fund. Click here for more information.