AL East Standing: 1st
Weekly Record: 5-2
Current Record: 50-34
(Every Saturday I will attempt to give some brief thoughts on the past week for the Boston Red Sox. It will be filled with hopes, frustrations, exhilaration, pain, and puns. Lots of puns.)
No More June Gloom: The Sox wrapped up what was, despite their 17-11 record, a slightly bumpy month for the team. Buchholz succumbed to his baby-induced injury, and may miss a few more starts. The left-infield shuffle continued, as MiddtheKid was sent down to Triple-A, Drew continued his power outage before spending a few days on the DL, and Iggy maintained his exemplary hitting/defense at either third or short (Although since his last game off on 6/18, his batting average has plummeted from .435 to .409. Sound the alarm!!!) The bullpen/closing situation kinda imploded (though Koji still looks like an impressive fill-in), but the biggest fatality of June was Jon Lester, who put up a 2-2 record with a 7.62 ERA in five starts.
But no more June! Here is July, where the Sox’s opponents have a 294-281 record, including two (count’em TWO) series against the Seattle Mariners. The point (not to belabor my eternal optimism) is that things are looking good for the Red Sox. Post trade deadline, in which the team will almost certainly trade one of their infielders for some bullpen help or maybe even mine the farm for a big time starter (because if I see Ace on the mound at any point of September and October, I will immediately dissolve into a puddle of beer and Cool Ranch Dorito crumbs), and then we’ll finally have a sense of where the team should be headed come (knocking on wood) playoff time.
The Return: For the first time this summer, I finally made it to Fenway this past weekend to catch two Blue Jays/Red Sox games with Mr. Peters (my pops) and Bug (my sister). As everyone who’s been knows, Fenway is a magical place filled with fantastic fans, a beautiful sense of history and tradition, legions of tiny red-haired freckled children chasing a person inside of a fuzzy green mascot suit, and a swarm of indecipherable accents from every region of New England. The latter was even more confusing because of the surprisingly large crowd of Blue Jays fans that descended upon Boston, many (ostensibly stilted Expos fans who had jumped ship in the move to Washington) chatting away in rapid-fire Quebecois throughout the entire game.
The games themselves were great. On Saturday, Doubront put up a tough fight, but due to a few missed opportunities (Farrell’s head scratching decision to send Salty home on a suicide bunt, muffed catches by both Jonathan Diaz and Napoli), the Sox fell 6-2. Sunday’s game was an intense one, Dempster going five strong before giving way to the dynamite Craig Breslow and Andrew Miller, the Sox up 4-3 going into the ninth. Then Jose Bautista (who murdered the Sox this series) slammed a homer off of the Sports Authority sign above the Green Monster. But then, after a HUGE single by Brandon Snyder, and a walk by Ellsbury, Shane Victorino delivered a game winning single that rattled off the glove of converted catcher Josh Thole. The stadium erupted. “Dirty Water” was played. Good times for Boston fans.
What strikes me time and time again is what you notice inside the park that you don’t get to see on TV (which obviously has its advantages). Like how tall Andrew Miller actually is (the dude is tall) or how fast each of Jose Bautista’s home runs left the park (blink of an eye). I’m sure NESN didn’t show Papi pacing around the dugout like a madman, or Koji hurling his glove onto the bench in disgust after blowing a save. And most noticeably…
Walkup Music: Seriously, one of the most underrated facets of the in-park experience. Baseball, when compared to football and even basketball, is a hard game to really pick up on the personality of each individual player. Football, you can see which player gets the big hits, who leads the pre-game huddle, who has the craziest celebrations. Baseball is too economic, too methodically paced for that. There are obvious exceptions (seriously, who else misses Manny?) but if you asked me who’s a louder or nastier player, Josh Thole or John Buck?, I would have no answer. Walk-up music on the other hand, is a great glimpse of a player’s personality, and boy are some of the Red Sox’s choices pretty awesome, and strangely, correlate perfectly with their style of play. My favorite three are:
3. Jose Iglesias (SS/3B) – “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes.
It should first be mentioned that last year, Iglesias’ walk up song was “El Animal” by Gente De Zona, a fun reggaeton song to be sure, but not one that’s going to electrify the Sox crowd, just as Iggy’s at-bats last year were pretty much met with (at best) shrugs or (at worst) trepidation, the light-hitting shortstop a meager replacement for Mike Aviles or the wildly enjoyable Pedro Ciriaco. But now, Jose Iglesias is putting up bananas numbers at the bottom of the order, and Sox fans are now looking forward to Iggy at-bats, hoping for another clutch single or double or maybe even drawing a walk. So, appropriately, his new song is the immediately recognizable and instantly clappable “Seven Nation Army”, whose bass line reverberates around the stadium, every fan nodding their head as if already approving of Iggy’s batting prowess.
2. Jonny Gomes (OF/DH) – “Boys Are Back” by Dropkick Murphys.
There was some debate between my family as to what the possibly insane Gomes would pick as his walk-up music (my dad guessed some heavy biker metal, I guessed “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun), but his choice could not be more perfect, nor more indicative of what he brings to the team. Despite his batting less than .220 (something I absolutely attribute to his lack of at-bats and not an indication of his talent) and somewhat shaky defense, it cannot be argued that Gomes has had a positive influence on the 2013 Red Sox. Somewhat of a journeyman, Gomes has been renowned league-wide for his positive influence in the clubhouse and his easy camaraderie and joking with teammates. Gomes has, in every media appearance, placed the success of the team far above his own individual stats or his contract needs. “Boys Are Back” is not only a song from Boston favorites, The Dropkick Murphys”, but who’s chanted chorus announces the return of a group of “Boys” on the skids, just as the 2013 Red Sox have come roaring back from last year’s disastrous season, with a brand new personality and fire in them, some of which must be attributed to Gomes.
1. Dustin Pedroia (2B) – “Real Muthaph***in G’s” by Eazy-E
Words cannot express how amazing it was to hear Dustin Pedroia walk up to the plate as the opening whining keys from this 1993 cut from former NWA bandmate and Godfather of Gangsta Rap Eazy-E blares out from the speakers. First let’s consider the song (Putting on rap historian spectacles).
“Real G’s” was released on Eazy E’s solo album It’s On, as a response to Dr. Dre’s diss song “F*** Wit Dre Day”. On the track, Eazy E proclaims that Dr. Dre is nothing more than a “studio gangster”, a “wannabe”, not the “O.G.” that he claimed to be, while asserting that he himself is the real “muthaph***in G.”
Now, first off it’s just a joy to watch the 5-8 Sacramento native step to the plate with Golden Age gangsta rap as his song (even if no lyrics are played, for obvious reasons). But if there was any player who wasn’t a “studio gangster” and who strayed as far from the typical Steroids-Era slugger, it’s Pedey. Yes, he doesn’t have a ton of pop. Yes, he’s a small guy. But, halfway through the season, it should be argued that he’s contending for another MVP award. Pedey is putting up a .322/.401/.443 line, playing exemplary defense, 9th in the AL with a 4.3 WAR, and is one of the grittiest, toughest, and most beloved figures in baseball. He’s a scrappy, fierce player, proving to a league full of wannabes that he is the “Real Muthaph***in” gangster.
Coming Soon: Possible Trade Destinations for Stephen Drew, and Ryan Lavarnway’s Journey