Brett Lawrie. Good at baseball, dumb like sand. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Well, here we all are, right on the brink. The Red Sox managed last night to stave off both playoff elimination and the guarantee of a non-winning record. How long will they hover right at the edge? Could be a few games, could be only a few innings tomorrow. At this point, only a 2007 Rockies-level eruption can save them from a sub-.500 finish. And, well, the 2007 Rockies didn't have Mike Aviles hitting third.
We're officially in countdown mode hereabouts, with 17 games to go and only spoiler status to amuse us until the playoffs get going. But there are, of course, still storylines to follow. It's Boston, and Boston never lets any team die quietly. Alfredo Aceves is acting like a spoiled toddler! John Henry and his buddies are selling the team! Pawtucket won the Governor's Cup! OK, that last is actually pretty damn cool. But still, there's always something to talk about around these parts, and we wound up covering every bit of it, from the fresh and relevant to the completely asinine.
Let's get recapping, shall we?
The big story, or what desperately tried to be the big story, this week was the rumor that the Fenway Sports Group is feeling out the market and planning to sell the Red Sox. This would of course be a big story, if there were any factual basis to it. So... Is there? Looks like not. I mean, I'm as willing to trust a poorly sourced, incredibly vague article as the next guy, but when the entire ownership group denies it, and basic logic implies that there's no reason for a sale, it might be time to go looking for the next big story.
Oh, and here it is! Alfredo Aceves was suspended earlier this year for "conduct detrimental to the franchise," which is MLBPA-speak for "showed up his manager and was generally an ass." Well, he did it again, snubbing Bobby Valentine when he went to the mound to collect the ball. Ben made the excellent point that regardless of Bobby V's long-term status, Aceves is now a dead letter to the Sox. A former ace pitcher for the Sox declared this incident proof that Bobby V has lost the clubhouse. Now, to my mind, one pitcher is not perfectly representative of 20+ other guys, but then what do I know, I'm not a successful software developer.
Speaking of the Red Sox' beloved manager, Marc pointed us all to a great piece over at Baseball Prospectus on what makes a bad manager. There's going to be quite a bit written this offseason about Valentine's tenure thusfar, whether it ends after September or not, and it's going to be fun in the way arguing over Jack Morris is fun. Which is to say not even kind of fun. But hey, he'll always have the Boston record for ejections. And it's even possible he'll be back for next year. Which... probably best to leave that for another column.
Let's look a bit ahead, at the long offseason of roster questions that awaits the Red Sox. Marc covered the hitters and pitchers currently trying to prove their worth for the 2013 roster. We examined whether Justin Upton might become available in the winter, and more importantly, whether the Red Sox should bother going after him. Felix Doubront, meanwhile, has showed us all quite a lot. Notably, he's shown us a Jon Lester-level ability to strike batters out, combined with a Daisuke Matsuzaka-level ability to waste pitches. Marc took us through what that means going forward.
This has been a truly brutal season for all of us, so a bit of nostalgia's always good. Matt Kory reveled in the old familiar joy of beating the Yankees. I took us through seasons even worse than this one. (Fine, that's more perspective-granting than happily nostalgic. There's only so much to be done about this season.) And if you're looking for another way to celebrate the grand history of the Olde Towne Team, there are a few upcoming opportunities. "Knuckleball!" is making its official Boston debut (complete with a Tim Wakefield appearance) at the Fenway Regal on Tuesday. The film's great, definitely worth a view. In sadder nostalgia, the Red Sox will be honoring the memory of Johnny Pesky after next Sunday's game. The memorial will be open to ticketholders and non-ticketholders alike. I happened to have tickets to that game, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to pay my respects and spend a few hours remembering a man who loved baseball, and the Red Sox, so completely.
Another game, and another chance to keep ridiculous theoretical relevance alive, at 1 PM. Clay Buchholz looks to lower his team-leading 4.46 ERA... Woof. OK, it's bourbon time. See you all for Sunday's discussion. Happy weekend, all.