Red Sox and the postseason

I have to admit that I was a little worried at the beginning of the first game with the Tampa Bay Rays.  I would have preferred to face Cleveland even with all the drama of Terry Francona coming back to Boston to face his old team and his friend, John Farrell.  But with two games in the win column, I’m not quite with Dan Shaughnessy and ask why we need to go to Tampa at all, but I think the Sox are going to be moving on to maybe face the Detroit Tigers.

My husband calls them the Civil War team because they look like the generals.  Even the babies on the team are trying to grow a little facial hair.  I heard someone, I think it was either Tim Wakefield or Dennis Eckersley describe Sox locker room conversation which includes brands of beard shampoo and conditioner.  And, yes, one of them admitted the other day, it does hurt when someone tugs on it.  It is this year’s gimmick and makes no more sense that the silly “Cowboy Up” Sox in 2004, but they are winning.

So Shaughnessy asks

Do we really have to go to Tampa/St. Pete? Can’t we just forgo the formalities and let the Red Sox advance to the American League Championship Series on sheer style, dominance, karma, and duende?

The Duck Dynasty/ZZ Top/Fidel Castro Red Sox look unbeatable at this hour. They bested the fatigued Rays, 7-4, at Fenway Park again on Saturday night and will send 12-1 Clay Buchholz to the mound to finish the series Monday.

The Sox look like the best team in baseball. No team won more regular-season games (97),  and the Sox have played even better in the first two games of the playoffs. They won the opener, 12-2, with every man in the lineup registering at least one hit and one run. It was more of the same Saturday night (eight of nine starters got hits) as the John Farrell All-Stars bolted to a 5-1 lead, then cruised. David Ortiz hit two monstrous home runs. In games started by Matt Moore and David Price, the Sox have 19 runs and 25 hits.

Koji Uehara gets a lift from David Ortiz after the Red Sox closer finished off Tampa Bay with just 11 pitches.  Notice the little smile on John Farrell.

Koji Uehara gets a lift from David Ortiz after the Red Sox closer finished off Tampa Bay with just 11 pitches. Notice the little smile on John Farrell.

The problem is that we Sox fans know all about karma and all the things that could happen.  We all remember Pedro Martinez melt down and poor Bucky Dent.  Thanks why the next sentence is

It’s a little scary. Baseball is not supposed to be this easy. It’s a hard game. It’ll humble you in an instant.

But the Sox are making it look easy. They hit. They don’t make errors. They run the bases well (great takeout slide by Shane Victorino on Saturday night). They have great beards. They have a closer, Koji Uehara, who throws only strikes and can work a 1-2-3 inning while you make a three-minute egg.

There is this little note in today’s Boston Globe

Since 1995, 22 teams have fallen behind two games to none in the ALDS. Only four have come back to win the series. The last team to do it was the Red Sox in 2003 against Oakland. The Sox also did it in 1999 against Cleveland. The Rays fell behind, 2-0, to Texas in the 2010 ALDS and forced a Game 5, but lost . . .

I probably won’t be watching the game tonight since it is First Monday at Jordan Hall and time for some nice chamber music, but unless Clay Bucholz decides to have a meltdown along with the bullpen or the bats go very cold, all of which has happened this year, I expect to find out when I get home that the sox have moved on to the next round.

And while predictions are dangerous:  Sox and Pirates in the Series with the Sox winning in 5.

Photograph:  barry chin/globe staff

Red Sox and Yankees: September 2013

Sox fans always worry about a big fold in September.  I’m beginning to breathe a little easier after yesterday afternoon when they had a huge lead, started to give it up, stopped the bleeding and added a run.  The Sox last loss was six games ago and they will, before September is done, lose again.  But probably not often.  Not more than a game here or there.  The losers from last year are now the team to beat.  The only possible rain cloud is the injury to Jacoby Ellsbury which may mean he has already played his last game for the Sox.  As another fan tweeted, “Let the Bradley [Jackie Jr.} era begin.”  But I think the air has gone out of the Sox-Yankees games that remain.  The Sox have a replacement for Ells, but the Yankees can’t really replace Derek Jeter who appears to have re-injured himself after missing most of the season.

The different coverage from the Boston Globe and the New York Times this morning tells the story.  First Tyler Kepner from the Times.

Before this weekend, the Yankees had never lost three games in a row while scoring at least eight runs every time. Now it has happened, against the surging Boston Red Sox in the Bronx, and if that were not sobering enough, Derek Jeter aggravated his fragile left ankle Saturday and departed Yankee Stadium for a hospital.

His CT scan was negative, according to the Yankees, who sent the test results to Jeter’s ankle surgeon in Charlotte, N.C., anyway. There is a reason only one player in Jeter’s lifetime (Omar Vizquel) has played 100 games at shortstop at age 39 or older.

Alex Rodriguez missed Saturday’s game altogether. Rodriguez has helped the lineup during his appeal of his drug suspension, and he had no injury on Saturday, Manager Joe Girardi said. He is simply 38 years old and has played a lot lately. A day game after a night game was too much for Girardi to ask.

So it goes for the Yankees, who have fewer quality starts than the Mets this season and a bullpen ravaged by injuries. Shawn Kelley and Boone Logan are out, and the indispensable David Robertson will miss at least a few more days with shoulder soreness.

The Yankees are old and have no pitching, but they can still insult the Sox.

The Red Sox, quite clearly, made the most of their bailout by the Los Angeles Dodgers last August. They gave short-term contracts to professional, if poorly groomed, hitters in their primes. The newcomers Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes and especially Mike Napoli have taken turns drilling big hits all series, and Xander Bogaerts, the 20-year-old shortstop, clubbed his first career homer on Saturday, a rocket over the bullpen in left.

Bogaerts connected off Jim Miller, who made his Yankees debut in relief of David Huff. Huff had been impressive in relief, but his first Yankees start was a fiasco. It was the first time since 1941 that a Yankee starter allowed at least nine earned runs to the Red Sox in fewer than four innings.

Poorly groomed?  I guess Kepner means they have beards.  And Drew, by the way,  is clean-cut enough to be a Yankee.

Third base coach Brian Butterfield (left) congratulated Xander Bogaerts after the 20-year-old’s first major league home run.

Third base coach Brian Butterfield (left) congratulated Xander Bogaerts after the 20-year-old’s first major league home run.

What is Nick Cafardo saying in the Globe?

If I were Brian Cashman or Joe Girardi, what would bug me the most about Saturday’s 13-9 loss to the Red Sox was seeing Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr., Ryan Lavarnway, and Xander Bogaerts occupying the 6-9 spots in the Boston order and having them go 6 for 17 with four RBIs, a home run, and six runs.

Here we are in the middle of a September pennant race and the Red Sox have four of their guys from the farm system providing that type of production. The Yankees have nothing resembling that, and are in fact a very old team, albeit a team that has lost three straight to Boston and still managed to score 25 runs. Which is why, folks, the Yankees still have a chance to make the playoffs.

I think Xander speaks five languages and thinks he would be teaching school if he couldn’t play baseball.

Bogaerts, who is the youngest player (20 years, 341 days) to homer for the Red Sox since Dwight Evans (who was 20 years, 322 days old on Sept. 20, 1972), claimed, “I wasn’t sharp at all. I was bad in batting practice so I went back to my leg kick. I’ve always had a leg kick so I went back to that. I got some new bats, so I tried them out and it worked good. Give credit to the bat.”

On the barehanded play on Cano, the shortstop said, “I saw Cano hustle down the line so I didn’t know if I had a chance. So that was real good that I got him.”

Plus the kid got his first homer on his mother’s birthday.  I bet he gives her the ball. [The Yankees got it back for him.]

Will the Yankees even make the playoffs?  Kepner thinks they aren’t ready for the fork just yet.

The Yankees are far from finished. The Rays’ slump — they have lost 11 of 14 after Saturday’s loss in Seattle — has kept the race close. But a deep Boston lineup has exposed a thin and weary Yankees pitching staff.

“Our guys are battling,” Cashman said. “They’ve been battling all year. We’re obviously up against a really good team. You can’t afford to make mistakes, or you can’t afford to not be at full strength, or you can’t afford to not be firing on all cylinders, or they’ll take advantage. And they’ve been taking advantage of every extra inch you give.”

To be fair, the Red Sox are not at full strength, either. Their center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, is in Colorado for a second opinion on his injured right foot. If further tests reveal a broken bone, the Red Sox would lose a major catalyst at the top of their lineup.

Of course, they have not needed Ellsbury to thump the Yankees the last few days. The Yankees have been too old, too young or too overmatched to hang with the Red Sox, no matter which players they use.

And Cafardo pointed out that Yankees still scored 25 runs in the last three losses which makes them ever dangerous, especially with the Tampa Bay Rays beginning their own collapse.

These are two teams that seem to be headed in opposite directions.  The Sox have their veterans and youngsters, while the Yankees have mostly old guys – and are likely to lose Alex Rodriguez during his suspension next year.

Cafardo writes

The Yankees are going to try to rebuild their team this offseason similar to the way the Red Sox did with strategically placed veteran players. What they can’t do is come up with a Bogaerts, Bradley, or a Middlebrooks, because they don’t have any of those types in their system.

Their young catchers haven’t come around as they had hoped and their young relievers such as Shawn Kelley and Preston Claiborne have hit walls. Brett Marshall pitched well in 4⅓ innings Saturday after starter David Huff allowed nine earned runs in 3⅓ innings. But Boston’s answer to Marshall, Brandon Workman, has been successful in high-leverage situations.

It was doubly good for the Red Sox — they beat up the Yankees for a third straight day and showed them a glimpse of the future, which right now, the Yankees have no answer for.

According to Kepner, the Yankees have used 54 different players this year, most of whom I’ve never heard of and likely won’t again.

Give credit to Girardi for extracting a winning season from these 54, whether or not they reach the playoffs. It has been a noble run, but on days like Saturday, it seems destined to collapse before October.

So my question is this:  Who is the manager of the year?  John Farrell or Joe Girardi?

Photograph:  Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

Talkin’ Biogenesis and A-Rod

As I write this on Monday morning, Baseball Commissioner Bug Selig is expected to announce who is getting suspended for use of performance enhancing drugs.  One has to have some respect for Ryan Braun the 2011 National League MVP who has already started his 50 game suspension without a whimper.  Contrast that to Alex Rodriguez.  There are rumors of a suspension through the end of next season, but I’m not sure why he isn’t being banned for life.  He’s already been caught once.  Can you tell that I don’t much like the man?

George Vecsey has a  great piece in the New York Times today about A-Rod and the entire scandal.  Rodriguez’s father disappeared when he was nine – the excuse for his inability to grow up.

The singular event in the life of Alex Rodriguez is not his imminent suspension, or the career home run record that now will never happen.

The event that makes him so remote, so rudderless, took place when he was 9, when his father disappeared. This is not pop psychology to explain a man who blundered into the airplane propeller of adult reality. This is his own theory.

Back when he was a young major leaguer, Rodriguez would occasionally explain himself in terms of his missing father. His mother was strong and smart, and remains so to this day, but he expressed bewilderment that a father could just take off.

Many commentators have pointed out the we have a President who actually never knew his father.  While some consider President Obama to be aloof, he cannot be accused of not being an adult.  He also has what is from all appearances a terrific marriage and kids who love him and he loves back.  So can A-Rod really use this as an excuse?   Everyone is different and reacts differently to the same situation.  But here you have an intelligent, gifted man who has wasted his life

Now A-Rod is like the Zelig of baseball, showing up in the spotlight on the busy Canadian doctor, Anthony Galea, who helped bulk up American superstars. And now he is unable to bury his tracks leading to the defunct anti-aging clinic Biogenesis in South Florida. He was a five-tool player. Now he is a multitool cheat, rejected, like a badly grafted body part, by the main corpus of the New York Yankees.

I’ve never been a Yankee fan even before I moved to Boston.  They were the team my friends and I love to hate, but even I understand that there are guys who play for the Yankees and then there are Yankees.  (The same could be said about the Red Sox – just think about Carl Crawford.)

He swatted a ball from the glove of a Boston Red Sox pitcher, violating the rule, and he yelled at a Toronto Blue Jays third baseman trying to catch a pop-up, violating the code. You could vaguely sense Yankees heads jerking and eyes rolling, nothing you could prove, as A-Rod walked past.

In February 2009, Rodriguez made one of those ritualistic explanations of his adventures with drugs. Jason Giambi had staved off the posse in 2005, and Andy Pettitte had charmed us with his spiritual confession in 2008. Now A-Rod was supposedly coming clean. His old pal Jeter looked sick as he made the mandatory response to A-Rod’s comments about how common drug use was back in the olden days, a few years past.

“One thing that irritates me is that this was the steroid era,” Jeter said. “I don’t know how many people tested positive, but everybody wasn’t doing it.”

Alex Rodriguez with Derek Jeter in 2004

Alex Rodriguez with Derek Jeter in 2004

Too bad A-Rod had a falling out – of his own making with Jeter who is clearly a grown-up and someone even a Red Sox fan can admire.

By contrast, Derek Jeter has a father, Charles, who was a drug counselor, and a mother, Dorothy, who was an accountant, as well as a sister. The family seems to have sent him a message: Derek, whatever you do, don’t be a jerk. Which he never has been.

Rodriguez and Jeter discovered each other when they were teenagers, and in their early years in the majors offered the spare room on trips to Seattle and New York.

In 1999, the teams milled around in one of those baseball brawls, and Jeter and Rodriguez paired off away from the scrum, smiling and keeping each other occupied. A transient Yankee, Chad Curtis, criticized Jeter for waltzing with the enemy, but Jeter and Rodriguez were showing good sense in not risking their expensive talents.

In March 2001, A-Rod moved to Texas for that infamous contract of $252 million for 10 years. Just as infamous was an interview with Esquire in which Rodriguez blabbered that Jeter was “never your concern” when playing the Yankees, and that Jeter “never had to lead” his team. They patched it up superficially, but they never waltzed after that.

Jealously?

Vecsey ends on this sad note.

During the 2007 World Series, Rodriguez opted out of his contract, making himself available to other teams, but the Yankees re-signed him to a higher infamous contract, the one ticking over the team today. His broken marriage and his escapades are well known. So is his testing of the Yankees’ front office. All that is left now is for Rodriguez to save as much as possible of the approximately $95 million that remains on his contract.

He is heading for the dreaded Sargasso Sea of sports, where banished athletes wait, becalmed, hoping for winds of pardon. Shoeless Joe Jackson, who never ratted on the plot to throw the 1919 World Series, never reached the Hall of Fame. Pete Rose hobbles around on his aging, stumpy body, paying for being a knucklehead when baseball caught him betting on his team’s games, as a manager. Lance Armstrong is downsizing his life in Texas. Many behemoths of the past generation are hoping baseball writers forget why they aren’t voting all those fantastic career statistics into the Hall. And good luck with that.

Alex Rodriguez, just turned 38, is about to fade away. He never had that stern voice in his ear that said, “Alex — don’t!”

I don’t know if he will ever play again and if he does if he can play at his all-star level.  What a waste.

Photograph: Barton Silverman/The New York Times

And the race is on!

The Red Sox begin the second half of the season tonight facing steamy heat and the somewhat diminished, but always dangerous, New York Yankees.  The real race for the American League East title begins.  The Boston Globe story by Julian Benbow lays out the facts.

Whenever Jonny Gomes would glance at the standings, he got an idea just how much of a tug of war the American League East is.

The fact that four of the five teams are above .500 was overshadowed by what the division did against the rest of the league.

In the first half, the AL East went a combined 70-54 against the Central, 53-39 against the West, and 35-19 in interleague play.

“I’ve actually looked at our standings and you saw the whole AL East win,” Gomes said. “It seems like the only time a team loses is when we play each other. It’s a big division. It truly is.”

Which is why the Red Sox’ first 10 games out of the All-Star break will be a grueling and critical test.  They start with a three-game set this weekend with the Yankees, then play four with the second-place Rays, and then hit the road for three games against the Orioles.

The Sox enter Friday with a major league-leading 58 wins, but 38 of their final 65 games are against division foes.

So how did they do against the division so far?  According to Steve Melewski who writes about the Orioles

Boston is 4-2 this year against the Yankees and 9-3 against Tampa, but just 2-5 versus the Orioles.

My father used to say about the Atlanta Braves who had trouble with the Mets, “It never matters how bad or good the teams are, the Mets win.”  I hope this isn’t true about the Red Sox and Orioles.

Clay Buchholz needs to get better without rushing his recovery and Jon Lester needs to get his head straight and start winning.  Lester started out the season pitching quicker than he had before, but now he seems to have slowed again.

More from Gomes and Benbow

The Sox know how crucial the final months of the season can be. They’ve gone into the break with the division lead in five of the last seven seasons, but have won the division just once over that span.

“It’s going to be a scrap,” Gomes said. “It’s a tough division. You see last place here could be third or second in other divisions. So that speaks for itself. At the same time, the Sox aren’t going to sneak up on anybody on the road.”

The Sox were able to navigate injuries and issues in the first half in large part because of depth and some deft decision-making by Farrell.

But with a daunting schedule ahead in a tightly packed division, returning to full strength will play a large part in sustaining success and returning to the postseason.

“Where we’re at right now, we’re not going to sneak up on anyone,” Gomes said. “So we just have to simplify — win each game, win each inning, stay healthy and keep going north.”

Many Sox fans, including me (I predicted a .500 team.) were surprised by the first half.  Now we are ready to be surprised by the second.  Let’s start by beating up on the Yankees.

The Red Sox head into the post-All-Star Game portion of the season with a 2.5-game lead in the AL East.

The Red Sox head into the post-All-Star Game portion of the season with a 2.5-game lead in the AL East.

Photograph:  Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Singing the Anthem

I’ve always thought that the Star Spangled Banner was a poor choice for our national song.  It is very militaristic for one thing.  For another, it is very difficult to sing.  I would much prefer America. But since I don’t think there will be a change in my lifetime, I have fun by watching the rendition before ball games and other events and seeing how it is done and whether the singer makes it all the way through it without an error.  Or adding horrible extra notes.  (And I don’t blame Beyoncé for lip-synching at the Inauguration.  She was singing outdoors with the band on a totally different level of the platform.  Besides, she totally nailed it live at the Super Bowl.)  But watching and listening is a spot in itself.

We went to the Brockton Rox opening game a few weeks ago.  (They play in a Futures League.)  An elementary school band played and were terrific.  But we’ve also seen some clinkers.  When it is a kid, you want to give them an “A” for trying.  An adult, not so much.  The New York Times had a recent story singing at ballparks.

It is a notoriously difficult song to sing, a musical high-wire act, with an octave-and-a-half range and a devilishly spaced melody. You usually sing it a cappella in a stadium where the echo hits your ear a half-beat behind the melody, and the lyrics are so familiar and fraught with meaning that every fan in the stands can hear the slightest mistake or botched note.

“It’s certainly nerve-racking,” said David Cook, the pop singer and “American Idol” winner who will sing the anthem on the Fourth of July in Kansas City, Mo., just before the Royals take on the Cleveland Indians. “For every person who wants to talk about Whitney Houston killing it years ago, 10 people want to talk about Roseanne Barr butchering it, so there is always that fear that ‘I better not forget the words to this song.’”

And most people like it done straight.  No Jimi Hendrix.   Me, I like his version.

Not all baseball anthems are done traditionally. Pop musicians who are ardent baseball fans often jump at the chance to do the honors. Kirk Hammett, the lead guitarist of the band Metallica, who grew up in San Francisco, and James Hetfield, the band’s lead singer, opened a game for the San Francisco Giants with a distorted guitar duet of the anthem in May this year. Steven Tyler and James Taylor have done the anthem in their own inimitable styles for their home team, the Red Sox, at Fenway Park in Boston.

Mr. Steinberg, a senior adviser to the Red Sox who has worked as an executive for the Dodgers and the Orioles, said it has become common for rock stars to try their hands at the anthem ever since Joan Jett had success singing it for her beloved Orioles in the late 1980s. Boston being the cradle of the Revolution, however, the Red Sox tend to go with a military theme on the Fourth of July, Mr. Steinberg said, so the team has asked Musician Second Class Nina Church, a vocalist with the Navy Band Northeast in Newport, R.I. to do the honors in her dress whites.

Petty Officer Church, 29, said that as a member of the Navy band, “you could call me a professional at singing the national anthem.” The key to pulling it off, she said, is to start on the right note. “The range of the piece is an octave plus a fifth,” she explained. “A lot of people start a little too high.”

But even Petty Officer Church stumbled a little, but recovered well.  I wonder if the Dropkick Murphy’s have done the Anthem at Fenway?  Don’t think so.  That might be interesting.  Or I read someplace that Justin Verlander, the pitcher for the Detroit Tigers can sing.  Maybe he can start a new trend:  Players who sing the Anthem.

Clockwise from top left: STEVEN TYLER at Fenway Park in 2002; CHAKA KHAN in 2008 at Dodger Stadium; JAMES HETFIELD in San Francisco in May; ROSEANNE BARR at a San Diego Padres game in 1990; MARC ANTHONY at Shea Stadium in 2001; and TAYLOR SWIFT at Dodger Stadium in 2007.

Clockwise from top left: STEVEN TYLER at Fenway Park in 2002; CHAKA KHAN in 2008 at Dodger Stadium; JAMES HETFIELD in San Francisco in May; ROSEANNE BARR at a San Diego Padres game in 1990; MARC ANTHONY at Shea Stadium in 2001; and TAYLOR SWIFT at Dodger Stadium in 2007.

Photographs: Clockwise from top left: Elise Amendola/AP; Stephen Dunn/Getty; Jason O. Watson/Getty; Andy Hayt/AP; Ray Stubblebine/Reuters; Kevork Djansezian/AP

Red Sox: 50 wins

I remember a few years ago when Josh Beckett (traded to the Dodger and now out for the rest of the year) boasted that the Sox could win 100 games.  They didn’t.  That was 2011, the year of the great September swoon.  The year that Terry Francona was fired.  Not a good year.  Fast forward through last year and the Bobby Valentine debacle to 2013.  This is a year for those who love baseball.  There are no superstars, no celebrity players.  What you have is a bunch of guys who play ball.  Christopher Gasper summed it up well in his Boston Globe column this morning.

Red Sox

If you have tuned out the Sox over the first three months of the season because of disinterest or lingering resentment from the past two seasons, you have missed a good time and a good team.

At 50-34, the Sox have the best record in the American League. They’re one of only two teams in baseball to spend the entire season above .500 — the other is the Atlanta Braves. They have a plus-80 run differential, second only to the St. Louis Cardinals in all of baseball. They’ve won in walkoff fashion seven times, including against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday, when they triumphed on an error at first base by a converted catcher, Josh Thole.

It’s one of those games you win when your team has good karma, instead of a toxic dump of a clubhouse. The personality makeover Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington gave the clubhouse in the offseason has taken, and the manager, John Farrell, is a source of stability, instead of a source of insurrection.

John Farrell, former pitching coach for the Red Sox under Francona, has done what the owners thought he would do for the team.  He stays out of the spotlight and does his job.

The Sox lead the majors in runs scored (431), OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) at .793, and pitches seen per plate appearance (4.06). Traditionally a team that runs the bases at the pace that ketchup drips out of a new bottle, the Red Sox entered Monday tied for second in the majors in stolen bases.

It’s increasingly difficult to say that what is happening in the Fens is just a fluke, that Daniel Nava, Mike Carp, and Jose Iglesias, who is hitting .409, are all wearing glass cleats and the clock is about to strike midnight.

The poster boy for these revitalized Red Sox is John Derran Lackey. That’s right, I said John Lackey.

Like his team, Lackey was written off, derided and despised. He was unlikable and unwatchable. He missed all of last season because of Tommy John surgery.

This year, I have even seen Lackey smile.

But, Gasper asks, won’t people come out and root for the team.  Why is the buzz still about the Bruins and the Celtics?  I have to admit that I haven’t been to Fenway this year.  I only go every 3-5 years (have to save up my money)  and I went last just as the Sox were hitting their 2011 dive.  But I do watch them, listen to games and follow them closely.

Maybe Boston sports fans believe the team is going to fray and show its holes like a pair of mittens that keep getting caught on a fence. Fenway Fatalists assume Clay Buchholz won’t be able to return from the pain in his neck that has kept him out since June 8 and the team’s closer carousel will keep spinning without an answer. Koji Uehara is the latest to try the role.

Maybe they just find the team a bit hard to identify with. They’re no eccentric savants, long-haired idols, or free-spirited frat boys.

No gimmicks, just gamers.

Whatever it is, the Sox don’t have the buzz befitting a first-place baseball team more than halfway through the season.

Maybe those who derided the “new” fans as the pink hatters were right:  people were attending because it was the in thing to do, not because they loved the game.  Me?  I will watch any game.  I’ve even been known to watch a women’s tournament in Vermont.  They were playing to raise money for a women’s shelter.  But Gasper is right.  This is an exciting team.  Watch Uehara when he completes a successful inning.  They play hard every game and never quit until the last out.   And they may just bring us another American League Championship.  Maybe I should break my rule and go to a game.

Red Sox, Celtics and Pride Week in Boston

Jason Collins spent time last season with the Boston Celtics (and he might be back next season) before he came out in a now famous Sports Illustrated story.  Last night Collins helped the Red Sox celebrate Pride Night by throwing out the first pitch to Manager John Farrell.  It should be noted that managers rarely do this.

The Boston Globe ran this story from the Associate Press

The 7-foot center was greeted with a nice applause when the PA announcer read the opening of the SI article: ‘‘I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.’’

Wearing a Red Sox jersey with the No. 98 on the back, Collins threw out the first pitch to Red Sox manager John Farrell.

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz feels everyone should support each other based on how they act.

‘‘Nobody knows what is perfect and what is not,’’ Ortiz said, sitting at his locker about three hours before the game. ‘‘If you are respectful and you do what you’re supposed to do, it doesn’t matter what you are and what you come from, people should respect you and love you the same way.’’

Collins wears 98 on his jerseys to honor Matthew Shepard who was killed in 1998, a decision welcomed by Shepard’s parents.

2015 Pride Night at Fenway

2015 Pride Night at Fenway

Hey Danny and Doc, bring him back to the Celtics!

By the way, the Sox won on a walk-off 3 run homer by – David Ortiz.

Photograph Jim Davis/Globe Staff