Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Ramble On

There’s a different feel to this season. Instead of throwing chairs and banging my head repeatedly on the desk after every loss, I’m more calm and I just shake it off. Yeah, it has something to do with getting an 86-year old monkey of your back, knowing your favorite team isn’t destined to choke every October, and realizing that these April games really don’t mean that much. I may be still basking in the glow of the World Series, but I’m trying, and I swear I AM trying, to break out of that habit. As the season has progressed, here are some odds and ends I’ve noticed out of the 2005 Sox:

I can’t expect much from Edgar Renteria in clutch situations. Sure, he was one of the only bright spots for the Cardinals in last years World Series, but this year he’s repeatedly choked in pressure-packed situations. This is evident not only by his crappy average, but most of his hits have come either A) early in the game or B) with no runners on base. Last night, the Sox were creeping back into the game at 6-3 in the seventh inning. Chen had walked Vazquez to lead off the inning, then Damon singled to center. First off, Renteria shouldn’t be in the two hole anymore vs. righties or lefties, he should be six or seven until he starts delivering consistently. But, Edgar then grounds into the double play and the inning is killed. Game over right there. He’s a phenomenal defensive player, and I still do believe he’s an upgrade from Cabrera, but it’s time to stop pressing.

As for Alan Embree, it’s pretty much Jekyll and Hyde with him all season. One night he gives up a walk-off homer on the first pitch, the next he strikes out four of the five hitters he faced. Unbelievable. This is why Mike Timlin, who is not getting nearly enough appearances this season, should ultimately carry the load as the setup man. Embree is fine in certain situations, but you have to be ready for both sides: the overpowering flamethrower and the meat server. Big, juicy meat that hitter send into a new galaxy.

Johnny Damon has to be the MVP of this team so far. The guy is firing red hot. Seriously, there’s lava pouring out of his jersey right now. Seven hits in his last two games, I think it is. He gets on base, delivers in clutch situations, and is really what a leadoff hitter should represent in the big leagues. I know, one day I’m bashing out of him for a sluggish game, but he always rebounds and makes me look even more like an idiot. This is his prime. Keep it up.

Manny and Ortiz continue their rampage of home runs, but those guys are not getting on base enough. Who knows, maybe if they single and double more often, and Tito slips Renteria in the 5-hole, he can have more opportunities to drive in runs and boost his confidence. It’s either an 0-4 night or a couple dingers for these guys, and we can’t keep winning games like this. Their averages are both looming around .250, something that can’t happen for guys that are supposed to be leading this team to the promised land once again.

Celtics: Ouch. Where is Al Jefferson all second half? Doc screwed up way too many times. The little things killed them, just as in every single other loss. Bad coaching, cold streaks at the end, an all around choke job by the Celtics.


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