Friday, October 17, 2008

ALCS Game 5: Let the Second-Guessing Begin

I have only a few points to make here, after the Red Sox amazing comeback last night. The most important one has nothing to do with Joe Maddon, but the hipster manager from Hazleton, Pennsylvania is not completely off the hook.

What were the fans who left this game early thinking? Well, we all pretty much know. The Red Sox looked lifeless for the first 24 innings played at Fenway Park in this series, so there was no reason to think they had any magic on par with 2004 or 2007. But, those folks missed out on what could eventually be considered a pretty historic moment, and were labeled as last night's losers by my friend over at The Ball Caps Blog.

As far as Joe Maddon is concerned, it's hard to really fault him when a previously good bullpen--one that had given up just 3 runs in 13 innings in the series prior to Game 5--pitches as poorly as it did last night. However, Grant Balfour did not pitch well in his last appearance in Game 2 (0 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 HR), and he had given up three hits while getting only two long flyball outs before David Ortiz came to the plate.

Alright, here's where I admit that I wasn't watching at this point in the game. I was actually walking from the bar to my car, then listening on the radio, so I wasn't able to second-guess the decision in the moment. But, the box score tells the story pretty well, and the fact that Maddon did not bring J.P. Howell in to face Ortiz has to be questioned. I won't call him out for bringing Wheeler in with 7 outs to go, though, because, with Troy Percival injured, Maddon hasn't really officially anointed him the closer, and has effectively worked his bullpen by committee.

My other issue is this: Why was Gabe Gross still in right field, with both Fernando Perez and Rocco Baldelli on the bench? Now, I will say that Gross is a better outfielder than he showed in those late innings. But, Perez and Baldelli are clearly better, and one of them--preferably the more experienced Baldelli--should have been in that game when Gross made that pathetic throw on Coco Crisp's game-tying single in the 8th, and misplayed J.D. Drew's line drive into the game-winning hit in the 9th.

These aren't major complaints, I admit. Maddon has certainly earned his due as the American League's 2008 Manager of the Year and, as I said, it's hard to hold him entirely accountable for the fact that his bullpen simply crumbled. But, these were my thoughts last night, and I'm not backing off of them this morning.

My final question, though, comes from a different angle. What exactly did we witness last night? The Red Sox will have to go on to at least win the ALCS for their comeback to truly go down in history, and they might even need to win it all to make this moment more meaningful than the Yankees' late-inning heroics in two games of a 2001 World Series that they eventually lost. But the real question I have is, have Mystique and Aura, who have been reported missing from the Bronx in recent years, simply moved their act 200 miles up I-95?


  1. I was shocked to see fans leaving after Papelbon gave up Upton's shot off the monster.

    If Mystique and Aura made their way up I-95 to Boston, then Entitlement isn't far behind. Red Sox Nation did not deserve that moment.

  2. $The only thing I'll say in their defense is the fans who attend these post-season games are not the same fans from the regular season.$