There have been numerous boasts from professional sports teams across the world regarding sellout streaks. However, nobody really knew which ones were to be believed. One that was confirmed to be true was that of the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball. The ball team sold out 820 straight games at its home of Fenway Park before seeing that streak come to an end on April 10. It’s believed to be the longest sellout streak in major professional sports.
The streak didn’t end by just a few tickets though as the Red Sox saw it come to a conclusion with about 7,000 empty seats in the stands. The official capacity for evening games at the stadium is 37,493, but just 30,862 tickets were sold for their game against the Baltimore Orioles, which they dropped by a score of 8-5. The sellout streak started back in May of 2003 and it also included playoff games. The previous mark was set by the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA. Portland managed to sell out 814 consecutive home games between 1977 and 1995.
When regular-season games only are taken into consideration, the Red Sox sold out 794 straight contests, which is also a major sports record. Boston demolished the old mark of 455 which the Cleveland Indians set between 1995 and 2001. John W. Henry, the owner of the Red Sox, said that the streak took place at the best ballpark in America and he thanks the Boston fans and players for it. He added that the franchise is looking forward to beginning a new streak and hopes fans in the area will also be able to enjoy their baseball at Fenway Park for generations tom come. (more…)
Johnny Pesky died this week. He was 92 years old. Pesky was a Boston Red Sox legend and a fixture in the team’s dugout for decades. He had a fair/ foul pole named after him. His visage was as symbolic of the team as any logo. What better way to pay tribute to his memory than to have yet another putrid, pathetic, childish bout of finger-pointing?
Pesky’s passing did little to stem the tide of discord in Boston.
For about five minutes we all stopped and acknowledged the passing of a former player, coach, and advisor whose ties to the franchise ran all the way back 1942. A native of nearby Danvers, Massachusetts, he simply belonged at Fenway. Then the proverbial moment of silence evaporated and it was back to business as usual. Which, for this team, means dysfunction, whining, and more poor play.
What exactly has happened in Boston? Despite retaining some of the same names, this club bears little resemblance to the champions of 2004 or 2007. It looks nothing like the teams that were major contenders through the decade of the 2000s. One has to feel sorry for guys like David Ortiz, who have attempted to stay positive while everything around them unravels. When Big Papi remarked that “this team is [expletive] cursed,” he was referring to an Achilles injury. And his invocation of the dreaded word made little impact. But he was more correct than he knew. (more…)
No one’s saying it but the signs are right before our eyes. The Boston Red Sox have been a divided team.
The 25 man squad split into camps. One camp was thrilled to see Terry Francona “leave” town, another clique “upset” that he left, and still other players who just want to play baseball. Owner John Henry hires “old school” Bobby Valentine’s and despite concerns about his abrasive style, everyone hopes for the best. By the end of spring training not only players but front office staff were complaining about Bobby Valentine. Don’t know why anyone should complain or be surprised, that’s Bobby’s history.
Bobby Valentine’s been a lightning rod for trouble everywhere he’s managed. Most of it, self-imposed. The latest flap is over what he said about a Boston favorite, Kevin Youkilis. Valentine went on a local radio show and said, “Kevin Youkilis hasn’t been his old self.” The controversial manager should have stopped right there, but he didn’t. He had to add, “I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason!” OUCH…”Not in the game?” (more…)
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com writer
Designated hitter isn’t an easy position to play, even though in theory you’d think it would be. You can relax during the fielding portion of the game, and wait your turn to hit.
Historically this hasn’t been proven true. DH requires an adjustment that most everyday players will struggle to adapt, as it requires a different routine both mentally and physically. Some guys are cut out for it, some aren’t. And now, with the position being used to utilize platoon matchups, there are very few full time DHs. Thankfully there are enough to put together a top five list, so enjoy.
The rookie slugger was dealt this offseason from the Yankees to the Mariners for young flamethrower Michael Pineda, a rare trade of raw talent for raw talent. All the reports over the last several years indicated that Montero didn’t have what it took to be a full-time catcher, and was projected as a DH going forward. He moves from a friendly hitting park in the Bronx to the spacious and cavernous Safeco Field. Montero has power to all fields and most importantly, the opposite field as a right handed batter. The projection system ZiPS says that Montero will hit .257/.322/.438 with 21 home runs and 68 RBI. Consider the fact that Montero will be facing tough competition in Los Angeles and Texas, having to hit the majority of his games in a tough park, and the fact that the Mariners have ranked last in runs scored in the AL the past three seasons. Either way, Montero should far appropriately in his first go around, maybe not Eric Hosmer good, but still good.
Yes, we know that Dunn had one of the worst seasons in recent memory (any way you slice it; a .159 batting average is wretched.) Dunn has been pretty easy to project throughout his career; he strikes out at a high rate, walks at a high rate, and hits around 40 homers per season. Take the good with the bad and he’s been a reliable run producer for the first 10 years of his career with the Reds and Nationals. A move to the White Sox and a permanent DH position didn’t aide his usual stats, but a lack of adjustment in all phases of his game produced a pathetic 11 home runs in nearly 500 plate appearances. What’s even stranger is that he had 75 walks to 66 hits! I wonder how often that happens. Is there hope on the horizon for Mr. Dunn? We believe so, as these types of drastic regressions hardly ever happen, so you’d think and hope it was an exaggerated fluke season. If the law of averages equal out, Dunn should return to a semblance of his former self. (more…)
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com contributor
As part of The Couch Side’s MLB positional power rankings, we turn to Centerfield, arguably one of the more important positions in the game.
But first, here is my 10-6 to build anticipation
Now onto the cream of the crop, the five best centerfielders in the game right now.
The Braves leadoff hitter split time between Houston and Atlanta last season, and he still led the NL in stolen bases with 61. He’s a fantasy goldmine, simply put. He has two gold gloves in his short career, and rates favorably with his defense. What is he expected to achieve this year? The projection model ZiPS has him hitting .270 with 97 runs scored, and 56 stolen bases. I’ll take that, you’ll take that, and we’ll all take that.
This was a tricky one; Ellsbury in 2011 had a near MVP season at the dish, only to have his teammates do their best to sabotage those efforts, which they did. Assuming the Red Sox won’t self destruct with a montage of alcoholic behavior, and unhealthy food choices, they’ll be back in the postseason, and so will the 4th best centerfielder in baseball. Jacoby had a herculean spike in power last year. The HR totals from his first four healthy seasons look like this,
That’s pretty remarkable, almost Jose Bautista-like. The question of whether or not he has a season close to that production remains to be seen, but it would be hard to believe that his peripherals would enable him to improve on such a feat.
For part seven of Couch Side’s 12 part series on the best baseball players by position for 2012, I’m going the be showing a lot of love for the National League’s top left fielders. This list was an easy pick before I remembered that Ryan Braun’s suspension had been lifted. So although I don’t agree with his actions, until the man is proven guilty, he’ll lead off Couch Side’s list of the best in L.F.
Like it or not, Ryan Braun was the N.L. MVP last season. And hate it or love it, he will be playing this season despite some faulty handling of his drug test. With that out of the way, let’s focus on how this guy plays. Braun almost won the Triple Crown last season, falling just short in each category by the slimmest of margins. By hitting for power and contact last year, Braun proved that he may just be the best hitter in baseball. And it’s hard not to call a guy who hit 33 bombs, 111 RBIs and carried a .332 batting average just that. You never saw guys like Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire hit for average. That’s why it’s hard for me not to love Ryan Braun just a little. He may have cheated, but at least he didn’t gun for the single season home run record. Instead, he was Mr. Baseball last season. And if he is completely innocent, I feel like he could be one of the best of all time. After all, the guy is an extremely talented outfielder, feared hitter and a threat on the base paths with 33 swipes last season.
If Hamilton can avoid injury and any sort of bad press by “relapsing,” he may just have a breakout season this year. It’s a stretch to say a former MVP is still capable of a breakout season, but Hamilton is due after missing solid stretches of time during the past two summers. We all know he is capable of 30 or even 40 home runs and is a lock to secure 100 RBIs. With a full season, he may just throw his name back into the MVP hat and Hamilton will certainly be looking to improve his numbers, considering this is the final year of his contract.
We are well into the 2012 spring training season and continuing with our theme of previewing each position in the big leagues, Brett Murdock turns his attention to the second basemen. Here is what he has to say about the spot.
The diminutive player out of Arizona State may be small in stature, but is possibly the Red Sox’s most important player. He does a little bit of everything and plays with a fiery passion. Pedroia won the AL MVP in only his second full year in the bigs and is also a 3-time All-Star. Last year, he finished with a .307 average with a career high 21 home runs and a .990 fielding percentage, committing only seven errors in 722 defensive chances. He is probably the most complete second basemen in the game.
In part three of Couch Side’s 12 part series on the best position players going into 2012, we’ll take a look at what could be the deepest position in the MLB – first base. Although this is my top five, one guy you won’t see on the list is Miguel Cabrera, who is expected to move across the infield to third with the Tigers’ addition of Prince Fielder.
With that said, let’s take a look at my top five first basemen heading into the new season.
When a season consisting of a .299 batting average, 37 home runs and 99 RBIs, is considered a “down season,” you know you’re one of the game’s best. That was Pujols’ line from a year ago and it snapped his 10-year streak of hitting .300 with 30 home runs and driving in 100 runs. This season, Pujols moves out West following 11 seasons with the Cardinals fresh off his second World Series title, but nothing short of a “bounce back” season is expected from him. Pujols is a career .348 hitter in interleague play, so although the jersey may have changed, the colors haven’t and if there’s such a thing as a sure-bet, Pujols is just that. There’s a reason why he’s called The Machine. “El Hombre” or not, the Angels need their new $240 million acquisition to the man if they hope to reclaim their spot atop the AL West.
Until last year, A-Go had spent his previous five seasons in the spacious confines of Petco Park and still managed to knock out 32 dingers a season as a Padre. So expectations were sky-high moving to the American League where he could swat balls over the short right field porch at Fenway with that sweet lefty swing. Well, Gonzalez actually only managed to hit 27 balls out of the park, but in exchange he hit a career-high .338, more than 30 points above his previous career-high, and topped 200 hits for the first time. This year, the batting average might dip a little, but I expect an increase in his home run production between 30-35 in that murderer’s row that is the Red Sox lineup. Oh and he’s also won three Gold Gloves in the last four years, so there won’t be any Bill Buckner moments with this guy.
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
Oakland General Manager Billy Beane shipped the 27-year-old to the Boston Red Sox after trading starting pitchers Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzales earlier this offseason. The third major move by the Athletics this winter has now left the team’s pitching staff depleted and it doesn’t look as if Oakland will have one household name on its roster by the time spring training rolls around. They still could have guys like Daric Barton and Kurt Suzuki still around, but don’t pencil them in on your scorecards until at least opening day because Oakland changes its makeup more times than Lady Gaga at a sold out concert.
Once again, the A’s received a heap of very young prospect and the organization should be delighted that their farm system should be one of the best in baseball. But none of the guys Oakland has acquired yet, are considered everyday Major Leaguers by anyone’s standards. For Bailey, the A’s received outfielder Josh Reddick, first base prospect Miles Head and pitching prospect Raul Alcantara from the Red Sox. Oakland also shipped Ryan Sweeney to Boston after the outfielder spent the past four years with the A’s, primarily as a starter.
So it looks like Boston received the better end of the deal. No duh. That should be expected by this point by any Oakland fan. These moves seem like MLB suicide, but the transactions are completely necessary for Oakland’s future plans. It’s reported the A’s will move to San Jose sometime in the near future and to help pay for a new stadium, the club is trying to save money anyway possible.
That has left Beane in quite a predicament. I don’t think he’s ever seen a budget this small and now he’s going to have to fill a roster with only peanuts to offer. His three mega moves this offseason are just the start. And don’t be surprised if his highest paid player makes somewhere in the $4 million per year range. It’s always been like this is Oakland and it always will be, at least in the baseball market where money rules.