Thursday, September 29, 2011

In Case You Missed It...

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-Digger's Daily-

In case you missed it... you missed a crazy day of games 162 in Major League Baseball. Mind numbing chokes by Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves players. It's a safe bet all Sox and Braves players, coaches, owners and fans are still cringing.

Boston's well documented history is filled with disappointments of the highest degree. One out from winning a World Series, selling Babe Ruth, failure after failure against hated rival New York Yankees and the list goes on. Curses? Chokes? Call it what you will. The era of failure was supposed to have ended during the steroid/human growth hormone era when the Red Sox rallied back from a 3 games to 0 - 2 outs in the 9th inning deficit - against New York back in 2004 on their way to a World Series championship. Remember? Well, the steroid era is over... and so too is Boston's short lived magic.

2011 featured a retooled Red Sox roster built to win. A star studded lineup and pitching staff ready to take aim at World Series glory. Boston had a 9 game lead in wild card standings in late August. Then came September. Boston lost 20 or their final 27 games. Last night's Game 162 was most devastating. They entered the day tied with Tampa for the American League's final playoff spot. Halfway through the evening Boston found themselves leading Baltimore 3-2 while Tampa was getting mauled by the Yankees 7-0 after 7 innings. Red Sox season soon to be vindicated by arch rival Yankees beating the Rays. Then the rains came to Baltimore. Before action resumed, Tampa had tied the Yankees in their last at bat. Moments later, Tampa won in 12 on a walk off home run by star 3B Evan Longoria (his 2nd of the game). Seconds later, Boston star closer Jonathan Papelbon gave up 3 hits and the Red Sox lost 4-3. Just like that - poof - Boston's season ended on a familiar note - a tragic defeat.

September 28 was remembered as a big day in Boston Red Sox history. It's the day Ted Williams went 6 for 8 in a double header marking baseball's last .400 hitter. Teddy Ballgame finished with a .406 batting average. He could have taken the day off (see below) but didn't. This crafty war veteran refused to finish with a .400 average by default. He went out there like a man and went for it. Williams was determined to hit .400 by earning it - not by sitting on his keester.

Well - now Teddy Ballgame has to share September 28 with the 2011 choke artist Red Sox!!!
Be careful what you wish for! And, how you shoot off your mouth. Boston players and fans publicly voiced how they'd never root for the Yankees even if it cost their team a shot at post-season play. Should we offer them a little salt for words now eaten? Yankees dropped 3 straight to the Rays as Boston was humiliated by Baltimore!

One of baseball's most coveted free agents after last season was Carl Crawford who eventually signed a 7 year $142million contract with Boston. His defense during the final week of the season was horrendous including failing to catch Baltimore's game winning hit last night. His hitting this season was terrible too. Boston's loss wasn't all Carl's fault. It was a total team collapse - especially by their tired and over worked bullpen.
It isn't often a home town batting champion gets booed when leaving the field of play. That's exactly what happened to NL batting champ Jose Reyes. The Mets oft injured free agent to be star bunted for a single to raise his abbreviated season average to .337 before requesting to be taken out of the game to preserve the title. Reyes was showered with disbelieving New York jeers at CitiField. Not quite Ted Williams-esque style of playing. New York's entire organization was ridiculed all season long from front office/ownership woes to their 3rd consecutive losing season and fourth place finish. Reyes, instead of playing out the game like a man, walked off the field like a spoiled child no longer wanting to play. This may be his last season in a Mets uniform. Die-hard fans deserved better from a player spending as much time in a trainers room as he does at shortstop.
Atlanta Braves were eliminated from playoff contention losing 8 of 10 including their final five games. The Braves seemed like a lock to win the Wild Card before their season unraveled. Not often does a Braves team fall to pieces. This one did. Another team effort in a losing cause. 18 September losses will be hard to swallow for players and fans. Atlanta was swept away by the Phillies at home by failing to record 3 9th inning outs guarding a 3-2 lead. Perhaps the Braves vs Red Sox choker series is in order?
MVP's and Cy Young candidate break down & predictions coming soon. AL Cy Young is a lock for Justin Verlander of Detroit (24-5, 2.40 - 0.92 WHIP). NL Cy Young might be a lock to for Clayton Kershaw of Dodgers (21-5, 2.28 - 0.98 WHIP). Plenty of discussion surrounding AL & NL MVP's. Check back soon for complete synopsis.

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