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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Friday, May 04, 2018

Enjoy This

I’m not sure what was more amazing last night; that Mookie Betts hit yet another home run or that I was not the least bit surprised by it.  The game itself was pretty crummy but Markus Lynn Betts was at it again slamming a solo home run and a bullet two run double.  He finished with the two hits, scored a run, drove in four and just generally kinda did Mookie things all night.

This is pretty special.  As sports fans we get so hung up on the big picture and what might happen when a star becomes a free agent or what’s wrong with a team or why an opponent can’t lose (prediction; the Yankees won’t win 120 out of their last 130, if they do the Sox probably won’t win the division) that we forget to appreciate the moments.  The local nine have won consecutive division titles, are a team loaded with exciting young stars and none is more exciting than Mookie.  I remember being at Fenway after the Indians eliminated the Sox in 1998 and Nomar came back on the field after the club had gone to the clubhouse to salute the fans that stayed.  It was a wonderful moment, a very clear passing of the torch from Mo Vaughn to the beloved Nomaaaaah!  Of course Nomar is the cautionary tale.  You can’t look at the way Nomar’s career unfolded both in terms of on field performance and off field perception (raise your hand if you called him “Garciapopup” at least once) and not recognize how quickly it can go away.

Baseball history is rife with players who went from “future Hall of Famers” to afterthoughts.  Nomar, Conigliaro, Reiser, Score…every team in baseball can probably pull a handful of “what if” names out of their Franchise Index page at BBRef.  I don’t mean to get maudlin here because what I want to do is salute Mookie.  I’m 47 years old and I consider myself very fortunate that every night I turn on my TV and get to watch him perform his Feats of Mookie.*  We had a nice chat in another thread about the history of the Sox and in the 118 year history of the club Nomar and karlmagnus suggestion Tris Speaker are probably the only two players this club has ever had that can do it the way Mookie can and he does it all being roughly half the size of Zdeno Chara.

* h/t Alex Speier

The five tool star has long been the holy grail of baseball stars.  Even true superstars like Williams, Ruth, Bench or Truby couldn’t lay claim to that designation.  Nomar, as much as I loved him candidly was never a true five tool player as his defense was too inconsistent.  But Mookie, oh Mookie.  Mookie is genuinely above average at every phase of the game and that is true if you are solely going by statistical analysis or just a simple old eye test.  Beyond that Mookie is an easy to love guy.  Where Nomar had that October day in 1998 or Roger or Mo hopped on a horse or Boggs exhorted the crowd after the miraculous ending in 1990 Mookie is a joy on a daily basis.  He reminds me of a couple of kids I’ve coached in little league who just can’t help but smile. They want to look tough and bad ass but they can’t do it.  Something goes well and the grin goes ear to ear and it is infectious. Mookie smiles, he does his good deeds off the field, he says all the right things and in a city with a more than slightly complicated record on race that he is an African-American is not insignificant.

Mookie Betts will become a free agent someday.  His skills will erode.  Something will happen to deliver a chink in the armor.  He’s human (I’m pretty sure) but for now don’t sweat it.  Every night you get to turn on your TV and watch a guy making his case to be considered the best human player in baseball*.  We are very fortunate as Red Sox fans to get this rare opportunity and it is one to be embraced.

* Trout is not of this earth.

Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 04, 2018 at 08:51 AM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. SandyRiver Posted: May 04, 2018 at 12:06 PM (#5666226)
* Trout is not of this earth.

Lots of people have said that about New Jersey, though for most it was just wishful thinking. (Disclosure: I was born and grew up in the Jersey Highlands, and the grandkids live about 20 miles NW of Mike's home town. Lots of nice places in the state.)

Posted this on another place - would like to see a pic with Mookie next to Big Papi, captioned, "Guess which one has never hit 3 homers in one game?" It's mind-boggling.
   2. villageidiom Posted: May 04, 2018 at 12:07 PM (#5666228)
Per BB-Ref:

Betts' first 27 games this season:
118 PA, 33 R, 37 H, 12 HR, 3 SB, 13 BB, 13 K, .370/.449/.850, 1299 OPS, 1.68 WPA

Yastrzemski's last 27 games in 1967:
113 PA, 22 R, 40 H, 9 HR, 3 SB, 16 BB, 15 K, .417/.504/.760, 1265 OPS, 2.71 WPA

Yes, you damn well better enjoy this. Mookie is performing at a legendary level right now.
   3. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: May 06, 2018 at 10:31 AM (#5667239)
Betts doesnt even get a hit last night, but still amazes by scoring from first on a bloop single. Fast and smart is a good combination to have for a baserunner.
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: May 06, 2018 at 10:44 AM (#5667245)
Betts doesnt even get a hit last night, but still amazes by scoring from first on a bloop single. Fast and smart is a good combination to have for a baserunner.
Awesome play. Not only did he score, but his dash allowed Benintendi to get to second. And so there was no DP on the subsequent groundout, and Benintendi scored on the groundball single which followed.
   5. Darren Posted: May 06, 2018 at 12:28 PM (#5667280)
It was a great play, but it was a double--Benintendi was already reaching second.

If anyone needs to not enjoy this, consider this:

Hanley: .297 .366 .432, 0.5 WAR, 134 PA
Moreland: .338 .403 .647, 0.8 WAR, 77 PA

Moreland is a better fielder, also outhit Hanley last year, and GIVING HIM PLAYING TIME DOES NOT TRIGGER A $22MM OPTION.
   6. Darren Posted: May 06, 2018 at 12:31 PM (#5667282)
ZIPS Rest of Season:

Hanley: .268 .345 .441, 432 PA, 0.8 WAR
Moreland: .260 .328 .454, 388 PA, 1.1 WAR
   7. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 06, 2018 at 07:04 PM (#5667523)
Have we gotten any more detail on Mookie’s injury today? It seemed pretty innocuous, I’m wondering if he just got a stinger when the throw hit some nerves.
   8. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 06, 2018 at 07:54 PM (#5667539)
Have we gotten any more detail on Mookie’s injury today? It seemed pretty innocuous, I’m wondering if he just got a stinger when the throw hit some nerves.

Best to be cautious; he's a valuable player. No need to rush him.
   9. . . . . . . Posted: May 06, 2018 at 08:05 PM (#5667542)
It is kind of amazing that after 25 games, both the Yanks and Sox are playing 700+ ball. Gonna be a long season, in a good way.
   10. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Fred Posted: May 06, 2018 at 08:05 PM (#5667543)
Your concern is appreciated, Clapper.
   11. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 06, 2018 at 08:50 PM (#5667560)
9 - Yeah, it’s going to be a bit nuts. On the flip side from a baseball fan perspective the AL is pretty dull. There are already four out of five playoff spots decided. I can’t imagine Boston, New York, Houston and Cleveland not waltzing to the playoffs.
   12. John DiFool2 Posted: May 06, 2018 at 09:20 PM (#5667572)
Indians are struggling tho, only in 1st because the rest of the division is rotten.
   13. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 06, 2018 at 09:38 PM (#5667579)
Yeah but I don’t think the division is going to get any better, at least not enough to challenge Cleveland who I am fairly confident are better than they’ve been. One thing about these four teams is they are all already in front, it’s not the Dodgers or Nationals who have some ground to make up already. I expect the Nats to do so while the Dodgers are facing both some serious injury worries and at least in Airzona’s case a fairly stiff competitor.
   14. . . . . . . Posted: May 06, 2018 at 11:30 PM (#5667603)
I’ll trade a dull regular season for a juggernaut playoff.
   15. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: May 07, 2018 at 07:59 AM (#5667640)
It was a great play, but it was a double--Benintendi was already reaching second.


Double to SS (Pop Fly to Short LF Line); Betts Scores/No RBI

Now I'm confused - Benintendi was given a double, but he was NOT awarded an RBI. That means Betts technically scored on an error that wasn't awarded? Defensive indifference?
   16. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 07, 2018 at 08:46 AM (#5667647)
I think Betts would be deemed to have scored on some kind of fielder's choice. He had stopped at third base so Benintendi doesn't get the RBI but you can't give an error for falling asleep like Profar did.
   17. John DiFool2 Posted: May 07, 2018 at 09:12 AM (#5667655)
You should.
   18. Nasty Nate Posted: May 07, 2018 at 09:59 AM (#5667673)
Both times this year Mookie has suffered minor injuries he has hit 3 homers in a single game. Therefore he will probably do so again this week, and I can get every national projection system to agree with me.
   19. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 07, 2018 at 12:01 PM (#5667764)
With the Yankees/Death Star thread turning into a Civil War thread, I'll post here that I had thought maybe after 2004, and then 2007, and then 2013, that perhaps maybe a scintilla of my white-hot YankeeHate might possibly subside. I mean, hey, the Sox had now won more Series than I would have ever expected in my lifetime.

But nope, if anything it's worse than ever.

I find myself tuning out of the baseball season more than ever before because the ####### Yankees are playing like they are. Apparently I can't enjoy this unless the Sox are also grinding the ####### Yankees under the heels of their cleats.
   20. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 07, 2018 at 05:08 PM (#5668060)
I'm strangely chill about this season. I'm sure by September I'll be a raving lunatic but I'm pretty confident of a playoff game involving the Sox and as noted, this is a fun fun fun team.
   21. ericr Posted: May 08, 2018 at 01:39 PM (#5668544)
I don't get the Benintendi/Betts no-error, no-RBI situation either.

This isn't news, but errors are crazy. In one of this weekend's games, Devers' throw pulled Moreland off the bag and would've been an error if Moreland hadn't gotten his foot back down on the bag (after review). But if the catcher throws wide to second base on a steal attempt and the SS can't make the tag, it's not an error. Sure, one's a force play and the other requires a tag, but does that really make the distinction clear? If the catcher makes a perfect throw and the SS just misses the tag, it's not an error on the SS either...
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: May 08, 2018 at 02:01 PM (#5668561)
I don't get the Benintendi/Betts no-error, no-RBI situation either.


I didn't see the play, but from the description it seemed reasonable to me. Benintendi's hit didn't drive him in. And Profar didn't make an error. Betts was able to score on a choice Profar made, even if that choice didn't result in a throw.

But if the catcher throws wide to second base on a steal attempt and the SS can't make the tag, it's not an error. Sure, one's a force play and the other requires a tag, but does that really make the distinction clear?


There's a basic assumption that you can't assume a stolen base attempt will be an out, and I think that's fair for catchers.

If the catcher makes a perfect throw and the SS just misses the tag, it's not an error on the SS either...


I think that's a more defensible situation to apply an error, in the same way that you can assign an error to the first baseman if he drops a perfect throw on the back half of a double-play attempt.
   23. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: May 08, 2018 at 02:26 PM (#5668572)
I didn't see the play, but from the description it seemed reasonable to me. Benintendi's hit didn't drive him in. And Profar didn't make an error. Betts was able to score on a choice Profar made, even if that choice didn't result in a throw.


Re-watching the play, I didn't realize how far the ball dribbled away from everyone, and that Benintendi was definitely going for second when Profar picked the ball up. I thought he didn't really go for 2 until Profar threw home. Nearest I can see an equivalent for the play is when someone steals 2nd with the shift on and then takes off for 3rd when no one covers. Ergo, Betts should get credited with a steal of home.
   24. ericr Posted: May 09, 2018 at 03:43 PM (#5669454)
There's a basic assumption that you can't assume a stolen base attempt will be an out, and I think that's fair for catchers.


Sure, but I think this reminds us how subjective it all is, and is based on an idea of what should have happened as opposed to answering the basic question "did someone screw up."
   25. SoSH U at work Posted: May 09, 2018 at 05:19 PM (#5669554)
Ergo, Betts should get credited with a steal of home.


I think that scoring decision should be applied when a player takes an extra base on his own, even if it's not off of a pitch.

Sure, but I think this reminds us how subjective it all is, and is based on an idea of what should have happened as opposed to answering the basic question "did someone screw up."


Who screwed up here?

We don't expect outfielders to have to make a throw on the money from 150 feet to nab a tagging baserunner. It's the same here. I don't think it's reasonable to expect the catcher to throw 120 feet to a 3-4 foot spot so the fielder can make a tag, even if a perfect or better throw would have gotten him. It's a rushed throw. And, really, if a third baseman has to charge and barehand a ball and fire across his body on a play that's going to be close, he's not going to get an error if the throw pulls the first baseman off the bag. But if a simple throw is going to force a guy at the bag, and such a throw isn't made, that's a screw up, and warrants an error.
   26. Answer Guy, without side hustles. Posted: May 10, 2018 at 09:00 AM (#5669869)
Probably the most critical game so far this season tonight.

Win and you leave the Bronx tied and with an even record against them on the season. Dropping two of three isn't ideal but given the pitching matchups (i.e. no Sale mostly) it would have been a surprise to take two in this series so I'll live with one out of three.

Lose and it's a sweep, you're down two and you're in Toronto while they're hosting Oakland. There's a decent chance given the upcoming schedule you never see first place again this season.
   27. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 10, 2018 at 09:28 AM (#5669880)
That's really pessimistic AG. The Yankees are good but so are the Sox. If the Sox built a two game lead I certainly wouldn't feel like they were set and I don't think there is a need to feel like it's over (it's always been over) if they get two games back.
   28. jmurph Posted: May 10, 2018 at 09:36 AM (#5669883)
Agree with Jose. Getting swept would temper my enthusiasm a bit, but I still think Boston is likely the better overall team going forward (Price caveat).
   29. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 10, 2018 at 11:55 PM (#5670508)
That was fun right?

I’ll take it. Any time you play a top team on the road just taking 1 out of 3 is fine. Obviously I’d prefer winning such a series but that’ll do. The big thing for me is that they got good starts out of Pomeranz and Rodriguez. To have our 4-5 guys pitch well is encouraging. Especially Pomeranz who has struggled and that ripped fingernail could have messed him up.
   30. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: May 11, 2018 at 02:35 AM (#5670527)
It was pretty intense, that's for sure. Great they won game 3, shame they had the massive squander near the end of game 2 AND then the bullpen imploded to make the game look worse then it was. They had runners on 2nd and 3rd, no outs and leading at the time. Didn't score, then Kimbrel coughed up the triple AND the homer and it was gone, just like that.

I reckon overall we played better then they did but NY sure can score in bunches; big crooked numbers. If you can contain that, then they can be beaten more often then not.
   31. villageidiom Posted: May 11, 2018 at 11:33 AM (#5670723)
I reckon overall we played better then they did but NY sure can score in bunches; big crooked numbers. If you can contain that, then they can be beaten more often then not.

I don't know that Boston outplayed NY. They both had significant problems along the way in the series, some of which are recurring themes throughout this season so far. You could argue that either team was lucky the other team didn't win another game. You get two great teams playing each other, and that tends to happen.

Non sequitur: I like Vazquez as a catcher, but is it just me or is he failing to block a lot more pitches than he used to? Pretty much any game he's got a pitch heading to the backstop - or as happened once in this series, all the way to the dugout.
   32. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 11, 2018 at 11:45 AM (#5670740)
Vazquez seems to allow a fair number of passed balls/wild pitches for a guy who is regarded so highly defensively. I'm not sure how to reconcile that in my mind. Some of it is the power staff with crappy control but a great defensive catcher should be able to block pitches regularly. And I'm with you, to my eye he looks fantastic back there but it does seem to happen more than you'd expect.
   33. Nasty Nate Posted: May 14, 2018 at 10:20 AM (#5671738)
A great Mookie sequence yesterday: he glides across dozens of metres of OF and makes a diving catch to strand the runner, and then in the ensuing top half he gets on base, steals second, advances to third on a flyout and then scores on a hit.
   34. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 14, 2018 at 10:27 AM (#5671743)
When he receives his MVP award in November that will be the sequence to play out (well that and the one where he hits his third home run in game four to complete the World Series sweep).
   35. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 22, 2018 at 07:50 PM (#5677659)
Look I don’t want to get silly here. I think the Sox should just offer him 15 years and $600 million to beat the rush. It’s an underpayment but I think he likes it in Boston.

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