January 23, 2018

“Everything’s a Big Deal In Boston”

June 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

This is no time for A.J. Pierzynski to get weird, but there he was accepting all of the blame for that day’s loss.

“I guess I just didn’t frame the pitches good enough,” he said, or something like that. “On the play at the plate, I dropped the throw. (Dustin Pedroia’s) a gold-glove defender, but I’m not.

“It’s all my fault. Blame me. You’re going to blame me anyway, so just blame me.”

Under ordinary circumstances, we Boston fans like athletes to be accountable, but this was to the extreme. Given enough time, A.J. probably would have accepted blame for the entire season, and maybe that 5-for-1 trade of alleged terrorists for alleged deserters.

As pouty outbursts go, I gave it a score of “eight years old.” He would have received a seven if he’d threatened to grab his catcher’s gear and go home.

This is the 37-year-old catcher’s first year with the Red Sox, and as reporters and social media wags have picked apart his faults—which include his throwing, receiving, penchant for three-pitch strikeouts and foot speed that is nearly imperceptible—the 16-year Major League veteran is learning something previously identified by the Prophet Tito Francona during the “Gallina Os” (Chicken Bone) era.

“Everything’s a big deal in Boston,” the Prophet Tito said.

And so it is that a player who has worked in Minnesota, Chicago, Texas and San Francisco is overheating with the media and it’s not even the halfway point of a season that has been as confounding as it has been disappointing.

In a season of challenges, the biggest challenge has been to the Red Sox offense. Realistically, this team is just a couple of players away from contending, although those players are c. 1977 Carlton Fisk and c. 1967 Carl Yastrzemski. (Rimshot)

In Boston, the patience required by baseball is often at odds with the urgency required by sports talk shows and fans paying $100-200 for a night at the park. Fans often line up on the side of urgency. If a slump isn’t proof of diminished skills, it proves that a young player doesn’t have the goods. If a major leaguer can’t produce for the first three weeks of a season, you can ship him out and bring up any of several minor leaguers who are right there on the shelf, beckoning like so many backup quarterbacks.

But patience often pays off over the long haul of the baseball season, which is why if you’re a fan—or at least a fan that doesn’t want to dump Pierzynski and give his at-bats to Christian Vazquez—you’re hoping Pierzynski holds onto his sanity for another four months.

Because things are about to head in the right direction for the Boston Nine. A.J. doesn’t want to miss this just because he’s feeling a little sensitive.

Here’s why:

Brolt of offense. It’s only been 36 games, but Brock Holt is leading all rookies in both batting average (.338) and on-base percentage (.378), and he (.842) and fellow rookie Xander Bogaerts (.787) are near the top in OPS. (Sure, prize rookie Bogaerts has gone south offensively since they moved him off shortstop, but why be negative?)

Last night the Sox put Holt in center field, replacing defensively-strong/offensively challenged Jackie Bradley Jr., at least for now. A second-baseman-turned-super-sub, Holt has hit and played third, first, left and right field despite playing only one of those positions in the minors. There is absolutely no reason to believe he can play center field, although he made a sensational heads-up catch last night to save Jonny Gomes from embarrassment, but now could be the time the Sox solve their center field problem.

And if that doesn’t work, second-baseman-turned-super-sub Mookie Betts plays his 14th game in the outfield for Pawtucket tonight. His OBP is .404, and his OPS is .883. How long can it take before he’s ready?

Every starter in their minor league system is like Cy Young. Brandon Workman throws about six innings and gives up two runs every time out, with a 1.07 WHIP. Rubby De La Rosa has a 96 mph fastball and a 2.84 earned run average, which is 0.00 at Fenway Park. Clay what? Felix who? Pack your bags, Allen Webster, someone will be hurt any minute. Keep that knuckleball dancing, Steven Wright. We’ll need it soon enough.

The laws of physics. Sir Isaac Newton said that an apple that drops from a tree will hit you in the head, that water seeks its own level, and that a .300 hitter will hit .300. Therefore, it is probable that Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz will have monster second halves, making up for the snooze-fest we’ve seen so far.

Shane Victorino is coming. Sure, his leg problems have been persistent, but have you forgotten how he makes things happen on offense? How good he is in right field? He’s been hurt and we’ve missed him. Now, don’t worry about a thing, because every little thing’s going to be all right.

So you see, this is not the time for A.J. Pierzynski to lose his mind. But if he does, Vazquez is hitting .272 in Pawtucket, and do you know scouts compare him to all of the Molina brothers plus Pudge Rodriguez plus a couple of Baldwin Brothers?

Comedian-journalist Dave Rattigan is host of View from the Lone Red Seat, and can be heard along with co-hosts Chris Mascaro and Bob Lazzari every Tuesday night on the Seamheads Podcasting Network.

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