Touching All the Bases

Sunday Mail: Where Does Bruins’ Game 2 Comeback Rank Among Recent Playoff Wins?


I should say, where does it rank among Bruins postseason comebacks during this Claude ‘N’ Chara Era?

Probably exactly where radio voice Dave Goucher says it does, right?

That comeback in Game 7 of the first round last year against Toronto … well, nothing touches that, though I suppose the comeback would be even more legendary had they gone on to win the Cup. But hell, they needed all their resolve to escape the first round. The Bruins trailed Phil Kessel and the Leafs by three goals in the third period and two with a minute and a half left, and managed somehow to pull off a miracle 6-5 win overtime.

A year later, it’s remembered with a smile, a did-that-really-happen? shake of the head, and perhaps a mental echo of Goucher’s superb call after same player who tied the game won it: “BERGERON! BERGERON!”

It was of course the one and the same Patrice Bergeron who tied yesterday’s game late in the third period with a skimming stone of a shot that bounded past Canadiens goalie Carey Price.

The Bruins had trailed 3-1 just moments earlier and looked to be headed toward a 2-0 deficit as the series with their great and loathsome rival moved to Montreal.
Now, after the 5-3 win, the series is even, and the Bruins are reminding us once again that their resilience is worthy of awe even if it’s no longer surprising.
On to …
I’m writing to you about the coverage of the replay incident during game 1 of the doubleheader [Thursday]. I was listening to the game on the radio, and Dave O’Brien and Joe Castiglione really made it sound like the Red Sox got robbed in having the original “out” call upheld. However, when I viewed and heard Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy’s call of the incident while viewing the highlights on my phone later, I couldn’t believe how different the two descriptions were. It really wasn’t clear-cut at all that Pedroia was safe, as the radio guys described. In fact, the video evidence was inconclusive at best, and I thought the umpires and replay official got the call right. My normal impression is that Don and Jerry tend more towards being “homers” (though not in the Johnny Most class) and that I can count on an accurate account from Dave and (especially) Joe, and I am very disappointed that, at the very least, Joe did not contradict Dave’s account. I understand that part of the commentator’s job is to promote the team and baseball in general, but I do expect an objective description of what happened, especially on the radio. I did not get that from O’Brien and (the usually impeccable) Castiglione.
— Les L.

First, here is the play in question, as if anyone has forgotten. Dustin Pedroia was called out while trying to score the tying run in the seventh inning on a David Ortiz Wall-ball Thursday afternoon. To the naked eye, Pedroia appeared safe. Brian Butterfield flipped out. Replay proved inconclusive. The Red Sox lost that game as well as the nightcap.

Funny, Les, I was in my car when they play happened and I know exactly what you’re talking about. Joe and Dave made it seem like a) Pedroia was clearly safe and b) overturning the call was a foregone conclusion. Joe in particular seemed taken aback that the Red Sox did not get the original call or a “corrected” call, and it was only after I got home and saw what happened that I realized it was neither an obvious call nor an obvious decision to overturn. In fact, the umpires were correct in not overturning the original call, even though there’s a good chance they blew it in the first place. It wasn’t conclusive. I’m not going to say I felt misled by the radio call, because that’s not something Joe or Dave would try to do. I do think they were too eager in presuming Pedroia was safe when it just wasn’t clear, leading them to fail to recognize that the lack of clarity on the play was going to prevent it from being overturned. As for the homer part, I do tend to think the radio side leads slightly in the homer category. You can always tell from the tone of Joe’s voice how the Red Sox are doing the moment you turn on the radio.
Has anyone talked about Xander Bogaerts moving to the outfield? I’m not giving up on him at shortstop, but it seems that third base is the only other destination mentioned for him. Seems to me that he would have the type of production you’d expect from a left fielder, and the Sox seem short on power-hitting outfield prospects, but long on excellent infielders. Just wondering.
— Stephen F.

It’s plausible, for the reason you noted at the end (where have you gone, Jason Place?), but it’s much too early for that. Bogaerts is going to be an All-Star sooner rather than later; for all of the growing pains he’s experiencing, the kid has impeccable makeup, not to mention a .390 on-base percentage as a 21-year-old. But about the defense … well, you just don’t know yet. He’ll work at mastering shortstop — he is and has worked at it — but he may not have quite the skill-set to be at least average at the position at this level. The Red Sox will give him a prolonged chance to prove whether he’s a shortstop or not, though. An adequate defensive shortstop with his offensive skills is so much scarcer than a decent left fielder with his skills. If I had to bet, I think he ends up at third long-term.
Let’s a grab a couple from Twitter:

Pretty bad, Dan — they’re hitting .219/.355/.328 in 155 plate appearances this year with runners in scoring position and two outs. Just two homers, too. Look at those splits, and you wonder if, collectively, they’re not being aggressive enough. The on-base percentage is fine, but they have almost as many strikeouts (41) as total bases (42) in those situations, and the power hasn’t been there at all. They’ve haven’t been unlucky, either — they have a .306 batting average on balls in play in such scenarios. Should they change their approach? Depends on the hitter. Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. do seem to pass on hittable pitches because they are out of the strike zone sometimes. But all things considered, they’ll be fine. It’s a lineup stocked with good hitters. They’ll come around in big spots. Maybe Pedroia’s grand slam the other day will be a turning point.

Are you not entertained by Gregg Popovich?

In all fairness to your point, I’d agree the majority of sideline reports provide little more than drab anecdotes or fundamental and usually obvious information (“It appears NaVorro Bowman has some type of leg injury, Joe …”). But sometimes, you’re glad they are there. Tracy Wolfson does a great job for CBS — love how she refuses to talk to the losing coach in hushed, deferential tones. Some, like Popovich vs. Craig Sager or Kristine Leahy’s sharp interviews with Rick Pitino during the tournament, are very entertaining. Michelle Tafoya was essential in actually reporting the details of what was happening when Gary Kubiak collapsed on the sideline during a game last November. She offered a rare glimpse into the potential value of that role.


Chad– just wanted to say kudos on your top 50 prospects series. Really fun to read …
Thank you, sir. If you missed it, had the thrill to chat with Peter Gammons and Alex Speier about the project on Alex’s awesome Down on the Farm program and podcast on WEEI. Check it out here. Now please, continue with your letter. I love this story …
… As a 31-yr old it was especially cool to reminisce about those 90s guys. I remember half my little league team crouching down in their stance to imitate Phil Plantier.
Quick story: in Spring ’92 my parents won a PTA auction for two autographed pictures of any Sox players. My dad let me choose. I picked Wade Boggs, my boyhood hero, and… Phil Plantier. My dad was strongly urging me to go with Roger Clemens or Mike Greenwell but I was having none of it. This would be bad enough, but by the time the autograph request was fulfilled Plantier had already been traded to SD, so they had to get a last minute replacement of another “top prospect.” So still hanging in my old bedroom at my parents house are autographed pics of Wade Boggs and the one-and-only John Flaherty.
— Aaron K

Great stuff. I bet Wade Boggs didn’t even know who John Flaherty was.
Until next week, the mailbox is closed. Exit music, please.

Call me a hopeless chill-bro if you wish, but of the countless songs with the title “Home,” this is forever my favorite.

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