Good afternoon from Kansas City. A few items for you to consider ...
• Quite understandably, people are asking whether Carl Crawford can handle the spotlight in Boston and whether that is to blame for his poor season. I think it's more bad mechanics and trying to be too much of a power hitter. Crawford was the centerpiece player on a terrible team for years. There's more pressure in that than being one of many good players on a contender.
When you watch him set up at the plate, with his front foot so open, you wonder how he ever gets to the ball. This could be one of those situations where Dave Magadan needs to spends a few weeks in Houston over the winter and rebuild Crawford's swing.
• It's impressive that the Red Sox are fourth in the American League in OPS by catchers. But what's more impressive is that Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek have caught every single inning through 123 games. The Sox used six catchers last season.
• Mike Cameron got 105 plate appearances before the Red Sox decided he was finished. He was hitting .149 /.212/.266 at the time. Darnell McDonald is at 106 plate appearances now and is hitting .167/.259/.333. Hmmm.
Whether it's via a waiver trade or internally, there has to be an upgrade available somehow.
• Erik Bedard had his issues with the media in Baltimore and Seattle. But he has been nothing but friendly, accountable and accommodating in Boston. In these cases, the best policy is to have a clean slate and he's been fine.
• It may be corny, but those days when a players gets called up to make his debut are still fun to cover. That Ryan Lavarnway didn't get drafted out of high school, went to Yale as a philosophy major and is now in the majors is pretty cool.
• Hey, Cubs, now that Jim Hendry has been fired, look to Ben Cherington. Theo Epstein's right-hand man would bring order to that chaos.
• Dan Wheeler should get more high leverage situations out of the bullpen. He has pitched pretty well for the last few months but hasn't entered the circle of trust.
• Dustin Pedroia and Josh Reddick are probably on EBay right now looking for WWF wrestling memorabilia from the 1980s.
• The Sox did everything they could to sign eighth round draft pick Senquez Golson. They flew him to Boston, offered him first-round money and even had Crawford recruit him. In the end, he wanted to play football and baseball at Ole Miss. Given the sad state of college athletics these days, it probably pays better.
• At last count, five people from South Carolina have e-mailed to say what a great kid Jackie Bradley Jr. is. That's five more than any other player the Sox drafted. He's at Lowell now.
• Daniel Bard thinks that the MLBPA will eventually agree to HGH testing. Because most of the players now were tested in the minors, they want the game clean. The MLBPA is also more attuned to what is right for baseball now than it was under its old regime.
• That Jed Lowrie plays third and Mike Aviles shortstop when both are in the lineup is a signal that Marco Scutaro may be the postseason shortstop if everybody is healthy.
• Aviles, by the way, could slip into the "Jersey Shore" cast quite seamlessly. He's got the tan, the abs and the hair. On a serious note, Aviles is overwhelmed at how welcome the Sox have made him feel. "I know that doesn't happen everywhere from talking to other players," he said last night. "These guys have made me feel like I was here from the first day of spring training."
• It's amazing with how much interest the players watch the Little League World Series when it's on in the clubhouse. Varitek, by the way, played in the LLWS in 1984.
And now a few non-baseball thoughts ...
• After hearing dozens of friends insist, I started watching "The Wire" and it's an excellent show. That Vince from "Friday Night Lights" was on Season 1 clinched it. But it's not remotely as good as "The Sopranos."
• The final episode of FNL will never be deleted from my DVR. Texas forever.
• The pilot on my flight to Kansas City the other day introduced himself during the pre-flight announcements as Adam West and said the first officer was Burt Ward. Nobody seemed to notice. On my way out, I said, "Your secret is safe with me, Batman," and he laughed.
• The rental car business must be bad. There was a time every car you picked up was nearly new, very clean and many had satellite radio on the house. Now the cars are aging, beaten up inside and the satellite button says "please subscribe."
• There's a contest to pick the best sports blog in Boston and we're a candidate. So cast a vote if you would.
• Worked with Jack Edwards on NESN the other day. I'm not an over-the-top hockey fan, but it was fun to ask him about the Bruins and their guys. Jack, by the way, has enough energy to light up half the city.
• If you missed Bono and The Edge on Letterman the other night, they did "Stuck In A Moment acoustically and it was fantastic.
• The Hudson News cashiers at the airport always ask you if you found everything OK in the store. No, I was hoping to buy a television and all I saw were magazines, candy and neck pillows.
• I'll admit I'm warming up to Chad Ochocinco. But here's hoping he makes his mark on the field and not running around the city like Shaq.
• The new record by Jeff Bridges is pretty good.
That's enough for now. Time to head to the ballpark. Thanks for reading Extra Bases and if you have any comments or suggestions, drop me an e-mail.
On Twitter, it's @PeteAbe.