November 2008

Annoyed by Must Wins

I thought I’d start the week by getting this non-Red Sox matter off my chest. When I was driving on Sunday morning and early Sunday afternoon, I must have heard the Patriots-Dolphins game referred to as a “MUST WIN” about 14 times.

Realizing that it was a crucial game, and not understating that, it was not a MUST Win. If the Pats had lost, would the season have been over? Would nobody have talked about this Sunday’s game against the Steelers because the Pats had just lost that MUST WIN Game?

They have five games left. Even if they lost to Miami, I’m quite sure they would have made the playoffs if they had run the table.

Anyone who watched the Red Sox-Yankees ALCS in 2004 should know better than to call anything but a potential elimination game a MUST WIn. Here is why. When the Sox lost the first two games at Yankee Stadium, everyone called Game 3 at Fenway a must win. Well, the Sox were pummeled in Game 3, 19-8. They then got into the truly must win situation and won all four to save the season.

So don’t tell me about a must win until a loss means complete elimination. As long as you are breathing, you still have a chance.

OK, glad i got that off my chest.

Ian.

Most Valuable Pedroia

A great day for the Red Sox, without a doubt. Two guys in the top three in the MVP voting? Two homegrown products of the organization?

Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis duplicated what Roger Clemens and Jim Rice did way back in ’86, placing first and third in the MVP ballot. Hard to believe no Sox player had won an MVP since Mo Vaughn in 1995.

Not only did Pedroia win, but he won big. Even without Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News so much as listing Pedroia on his MVP ballot, meaning Grant didn’t deem him won of the 10 most valuable players in the AL.

I think Grant was classy with his apology. Nobody is perfect and Evan admitted he probably made a mistake.

Now that awards season is over, it’s time to get back on that burner known as the Hot Stove.

Time to see if the Sox will retain ‘Tek, or make a run at D-Lowe or A.J. Burnett or Ben Sheets.

Everything is so quiet around the Red Sox these days that you have to surmise Theo Epstein must be up to something. It is usual when the crazy rumors aren’t floating around that Epstein is in his bunker contemplating a big move. What will it be?

And The Envelopes, Please

I must admit, I’m a sucker for awards, be it the Oscars or whatever.

This is baseball awards season, beginning in less than an hour. Red Sox players are involved in some of these races.

Here is a quick look at the AL awards. I simply don’t have time to follow the NL enough to make worthy selections.

AL Rookie of the Year, to be announced Monday: My prediction: Evan Longoria. Imagine if this guy had played the full year? His production numbers were impressive and of course he got even more impressive in the postseason, but that doesn’t count.

Other worthy selections. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox; Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox. Ellsbury had an up and down year offensively but still stole 50 bases and just missed 100 runs.

AL Manager of the Year, to be announced Wednesday: Joe Maddon, Rays. I think jovial Joe wrapped this thing up somewhere around July 4. What a great job. Not enough can be said.

Other worthy selections: Though Maddon by far guided the most dramatic turnaround of any team, some other managers did a very nice job this season. Look at Ron Gardenhire, for instance. When Johan Santana was traded, everyone just assumed the Twins would be non-contenders. Think again. They lasted all the way to a one-game playoff. The guy here in Boston did a pretty nice job in his own right. Terry Francona had injuries to major players at virtually every point in the season. But he found a way to keep his team focused and into the playoffs for the fourth time in his five years as manager. Don’t forget Mike Scioscia. He got 100 wins out of the Angels and they were a juggernaut until the playoffs. But again, the playoffs don’t count in these votes.

AL Cy Young: Cliff Lee, Indians. This one is about as suspenseful as the Maddon choice for manager. Lee completely dominated from start to finish.

Other worthy selections: Roy Halladay. A complete-game machine! This guy is the definition of a throwback. Mike Mussina, Francisco Rodriguez and Jon Lester also belong in the conversation.

AL MVP: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox. Perhaps you have to be around this guy every day to see just how much he means to his team. Pedroia topped the league, or was near the top, in several major categories, including runs, hits, doubles and batting average. Oh, and he was also a Gold Glove second baseman who hit for power for a little guy — 18 homers — and stole 20 bases.

Other worthy selections: Justin Morneau, Twins. A .300 average and 129 RBIs should get you MVP consideration every year, particularly on a team that didn’t have a lot of other sluggers in the lineup. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox. If not for Pedroia, he would have gotten a ton more discussion in this debate. Manny was traded, Ortiz wasn’t himself, Lowell was hurt and there was Youk, belting 29 homers and driving in 115. Oh, he also hit .312 and played tremendous defense. Josh Hamilton was the best player for a non-contender, but I just don’t think that can win you an MVP.

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