Picked-up pieces while wondering whether the Red Sox should be relegated . . .
▪ In a small moment after Wednesday’s 7-6 loss to the Guardians, lowlighted by Franchy Cordero’s three errors at first base, Alex Cora said, “He’s still learning the position. He hasn’t played too much at first base.”
There it is right there. Red Sox ownership/management has given Cora a roster peppered with interchangeable guys who should be learning their craft in Triple A while at the same time claiming the organization is still committed to winning this year.
Summary: You are paying the highest ticket prices in baseball to watch minor league players learning on the job.
And a lot of you are OK with this because, well, these Red Sox bosses won four championships in this century and we don’t want to be like those stupid first-place Dodgers, Yankees, and Mets who waste all their money signing stars to long-term contracts.
Whatever happened to Boston Red Sox baseball?
It’s been bad at every level.
Three years in, can we all acknowledge that the Mookie Betts salary dump was one of the worst moves in modern Sox history? It was the warning shot that the Sox won’t keep their stars anymore and are more about the illusion of contention (boosted by the phony, inflated playoff format) than about winning.
Betts has one ring in Los Angeles, could get another this year, went into the weekend with 23 homers (more than all Red Sox outfielders combined), and is the face of the Dodger franchise when he should still be the face of the Red Sox. He says he would have stayed in Boston if the Sox matched the money. And what do you have to show for him? Average Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs, and Connor Wong.
Oh, and the Andrew Benintendi trade — the one the Sox made because they thought Benintendi was overrated and about to get worse? Benintendi brought you Franchy, a nice-guy strikeout machine who has no position, and righty Josh Winckowski, who is 3-5 with a Bloomesque 5.18 ERA.
Meanwhile, Benintendi is an All-Star outfielder, hitting .316 (AL-best 34 multiple-hit games), and could be the Yankees leadoff hitter when they come to Fenway Aug. 12. And Bill James and the Bloominati still claim the Red Sox won that deal.
Now the trading deadline looms (Tuesday) and Chaim Bloom has a golden opportunity to dump high-priced J.D. Martinez, Nate Eovaldi, and Christian Vázquez. We wait for Xander Bogaerts to walk at the end of the year. Rafael Devers acknowledged that the Sox got extension negotiations off to a strange start by comparing him with Matt Olson.
I fear that this is not a bridge year; rather, we may soon look back at the summer of 2022 as the Good Old Days.
Your Boston Red Sox, ladies and gents.
Yes, these owners won four championships in this century. But as stewards of an organization that finished last only once between 1932 and 2012 (1992), the Red Sox have a good chance to finish in last place for the fifth time in 11 seasons.
▪ Quiz: No major league team has had more than five Hall of Famers at one time since the inception of division play in 1969. The 1980 Red Sox had five. So did the 1970-73 Twins. Name the 10 players (answer below).
▪ Is there a single seat in Fenway Park from which you can see every part of the playing field while remaining seated? I have friends who can argue about this for hours.
▪ Leftovers from Cooperstown:
— Standing around a Hall reception after last Saturday’s parade of legends, Mike Mussina commented about how he’d had success facing George Brett (3 for 24, .125) in the brief period when their careers overlapped. Brett happened to be standing a few feet away (a Woody Allen/Marshall McLuhan moment) and confirmed Mussina’s memory.
“That’s true,” said Brett, while spitting dip into a Miller Lite bottle holstered in his sportcoat pocket. “I had trouble guessing against him. I think it’s because he went to Stanford. But look up how I did against Ed Figueroa. I once had 13 straight hits against him.”
True. Figueroa won 71 games from 1975-78, including 20 in 1978, but while he was with the Angels, Brett had 13 consecutive hits off him. This must be a record. Lifetime, Brett was 25 for 41 (.610) vs. Figueroa.
“All of them were rockets,” Brett said of the 13 straight. “And all of his teammates knew about the streak. Finally, we were playing the Angels and I hit a hard one-hopper bound for center, but Jerry Remy got over and backhanded that thing and threw me out. When Figueroa got to the dugout, all of his teammates gave him a standing ovation.”
— A Hall of Fame infielder who still sees a lot of games told me he doesn’t think Trevor Story will be able to make throws from shortstop without suffering an arm injury.
— Eddie Murray says he turns off his TV when he sees today’s big league batters carrying their bats down the line and handing them to the first base coach after hitting homers.
— One of the highlights of the weekend was Wade Boggs’s Sunday night karaoke performance of “Friends in Low Places.” Debbie Boggs was even better with “Me and Bobby McGee.”
— Sad and astounding that the New York Daily News did not send a reporter to Cooperstown to cover the induction of Gil Hodges. From 1947-71, Hodges got more headlines in the Daily News than any New York City mayor.
— When Johnny Bench came upon ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian as Kurkjian was being celebrated for the BBWAA’s Career Excellence Award, Bench asked if the group wanted a photo.
“We said sure, assuming he was offering to have a photo taken with us,” said the ever-humble Kurkjian. “Instead, he took my phone and lined us up to take our family picture! After that, we posed for one with us and Johnny. Paul Molitor — who had more career hits than Joe DiMaggio — stepped in to take our group photo with Johnny! It was one of the greatest moments of our weekend.”
— David Ortiz gave a gracious, 19-minute speech, but it’s always tricky when you start thanking individual people. He clearly avoided citing Bobby Valentine and Tom Kelly when listing his managers, and it was odd that there was no mention of Manny Ramirez. Two days later, the desperate Sox could not sell out their latest David Ortiz Night.
▪ Bill Belichick’s stubborn side comes out when he refuses to name offensive and defensive coordinators, then behaves as if it’s ridiculous that anyone would ask about it. The Hoodie is putting all the credit/blame on his own plate, which will be interesting if things do not go well for the Foxboroughs in 2022.
▪ The intrepid New York Post tracked down Jayson Tatum at the premiere of a hoop documentary in New York Tuesday and asked the Celtics star about the “Kevin Durant to Boston for Jaylen Brown and a lot more” rumor.
“I don’t think any of that,” said Tatum. “I just play basketball. I mean, I played with [Durant] during the Olympics. Obviously, he’s a great player. But that’s not my decision. I love our team. I love the guys we’ve got.”
At the same event, Paul Pierce told the Post, “They’re not going to do that. That ain’t happening. They don’t need to make no moves.”
▪ Red Sox lowlights: According to baseball-reference.com, the Red Sox’ minus-54 run differential (67-13) from July 16-24 was the worst five-game span by any team since at least 1901. In the July 23 4-1 loss to the Jays, Cora sent up a guy hitting .184 (Kevin Plawecki) to hit for a guy batting .156 (Downs).
▪ According to USA Today, Georgia’s Kirby Smart leads all college football coaches with a $10.25 million compensation package for 2022-23. Runner-up Nick Saban ($9.9 million) must be furious. Jimbo Fisher ($9 million, Texas A&M) and Dabo Swinney ($8.5 million, Clemson) also made the top 10, which seems appropriate. It wouldn’t be college football without good ol’ Jimbo and Dabo.
▪ The Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an interfaith human rights group, will present Bob Kraft with its 2022 Appeal of Conscience Award Sept. 19 in New York.
▪ Joe Castiglione. Forty years in the booth. Simply the best. Can you believe it?
▪ Quiz answer: 1980 Red Sox: Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, Dennis Eckersley, Tony Perez; 1970-73 Twins: Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat.