Sunday, April 06, 2003

Game 7 - Red Sox

Red Sox 12, Orioles 2
Record: 5-2

Just a perfect spring afternoon today. Mid-fifties air temperature, but the cloudless blue sky and warming sun made it a comfortable three hours at Camden Yards. Terrific seats, just back from the Orioles dugout on the first base line, offered a great view of the movement on Tim Wakefield's knuckler. Nomar went 3 for 4 with a double, triple, and long homer to left center. Shea Hillenbrand drove in 6 runs on two doubles and a homerun. Wake went 6 easy innings, and the bullpen went three scoreless and relatively routine frames. It was the smallest crowd I'd ever seen at the Yards - announced at just north of 28,000, it didn't seem that large. Great expanses of seats were unoccupied in the upper decks. Beautiful day, Sox in town, and the O's can't draw 30,000. Sheesh, what are the mid-August games against Detroit gonna draw? Well done, Mr. Angelos.

While I'll freely admit that the Sox bullpen remains a major question mark, I'm growing increasingly tired of the national media's irrational focus on the issue. For the record, the Sox bullpen has allowed 17 earned runs in 27 innings in the first week of the season, for a 5.66 ERA. During the same span, the New York Yankee bullpen has yielded 13 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings, good for a 9.06 ERA. The Yankees blew a game to the Devil Rays, just like the Sox. In the season's first week, noted major league closers Armando Benitez, Billy Koch, Jose Jimenez, Kaz Sasaki, and Jorge Julio (these are just the ones I remember) flamed out spectacularly in the process of blowing saves. Has any major sportswriter or ESPN talking head noted these incidents as they presented a balanced view of the Sox bullpen troubles? Well, that would require research, and a bit of critical thinking, so the answer is a resounding no. It's really easy to write the "Boy Wonder GM and Stat-Head Consultant Cost Sox Season" stories. The famed economist John Maynard Keynes once wrote, "Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally." Baseball's old boy network, propped up by lazy journalists, is proof positive that this is true.

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