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Random Musings: Greater Love

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I just returned from a brief vacation in a barren location bereft of internet (Atlantic Canada). After an 8-hr drive, my reward for coming home was finding a dead mouse and a pile of maggots in the center of my bedroom. So please forgive me if what follows is as incoherent as A-Rod's understanding of commitment. Unlike the blue-lipped slugger's affairs, this story is truly a labor of love, for greater love hath no man, than the man that loves greater than signs (>).

Red Sox > Twins

The Sox-Twins series at Fenway was one of the best series this year. The Twins came in red-hot, having won 17 of their last 20 games, shutting down opponents (2.67 ERA) while scoring an average of 6.1 runs per game in that span. Granted this was against mostly NL opposition, but still an impressive achievement.

Facing a good team, and having scuffled of late (9-11 over their previous 20 games), the Sox stepped up their play. They defeated the Twins handily in two close games and a slugfest that turned into a rout. Several miraculous things happened in this series. Okajima (game 1) and Hansen (game 3) stranded inherited runners. Matsuzaka pitched more than 7 innings. The Sox stole a game they were down 5-2, by getting clutch hits in the 8th. The Sox bullpen threw 3 scoreless innings, without Papelbon or Oki. Altogether, it was an awesome series.

Joe Mauer > Jason Varitek

Poster drabidea has an excellent diary fanpost defending Jason Varitek against his many detractors. However, he argues that Joe Mauer would be worse for the Sox than Tek is, which I find difficult to agree with.

Mauer career Catcher ERA: 3.88
Varitek's career CERA: 4.15
Mauer 2008 VORP: 29.7
Tek 2008 VORP: -2.0
Mauer age: 25
Tek age: 36

If Joe Mauer were on the Red Sox, the team would win each of its 162 games, and all of its playoff games, by a ten run margin. I have no difficulty asserting this, because there is no chance Mauer plays for Boston any time soon. Trade talks would go something like this:

Theo Epstein: Hi Terry.
Bill Smith: The name's Smith. Agent Sm-, I mean Bill Smith.
Epstein: Yeah. Look I was wondering about Joe Mauer. What would it take to get him?
Smith: Buchholz, Masterson, Lowrie, Ellsbury, Lester, Beckett, Lugo and Ortiz. And a $100 million posting fee...
[Dead silence.]
Smith: Theo...
Epstein: Yeah Bill?
Smith: I was kidding about Lugo.

Radio > Television

 As much fun as it is to watch the angle of a Daisuke pitch as it darts from his hand like a newborn dove, full of hope and promise, sails through the air on wings of gilded optimism, only to fall. Fall like the bitter fruit of temptation, ripe and inviting, into the hands of the innocent. Fall like a renegade angel seared by divine will. Fall into the dark and burning depths of hell itself. Fall and be called a ball.

As much fun as it is to watch this celestial drama, there is a better way. Specifically, there are radio broadcasts. Let me explain:

  • Radio is egalitarian. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars on your radio to properly hear a Sox game on it, and you aren't encouraged to (unlike HD TV). Moreover, the broadcasts are widely available (in the New England area at least) and inexpensive, unlike NESN; they are rarely if ever blocked out, unlike MLBTV.
  • Radio is not visually taxing. For someone like me who spends much of the day staring into electronics, the prospect of watching TV for three hours almost every night is a bit daunting.
  • Radio doesn't have embarrassing pharmacological commercials ("Daddy, what's E.D.?").
  • Radio doesn't have soul-sucking, dementia-inducing furniture ads ("Daddy, is Bob's last name Kevorkian?").
  • Radio doesn't desert the game at crucial moments. When guests come on a WEEI / WRKO broadcast, the announcers don't stop doing play-by-play during a critical inning to listen to the PR stylings of the latest corporate executive that gave a twenty to the Jimmy Fund.
  • Radio doesn't countenance Jerry Remy's one-man war against crime for self-promotion.

Boring > Exciting

Recent Sox offseasons and trading deadlines have been quite boring. The reason for this is quite simple: success. With a thriving farm system and strong major league club, there is little reason to make big trades. The cost is also higher. When New York acquired Abreu, all he cost was middling prospects and cash; the Phillies at the time demanded better prospects from the Sox. I expect this situation plays out repeatedly in Epstein's office. The Sox have more to offer, so the potential trading partner demands more; as a result the deal is turned down. Instead Boston goes for spare parts and arms, so while others add Santana or Sabathia, the Sox add Gagne or Casey. Very boring trade / FA-wise, but it's hard to argue with the results. Because, you know, World Series rings don't talk back.