Must-click link: How the Red Sox landed Carl Crawford

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Great story over at Comcast New England today going behind the scenes of the Carl Crawford signing and explaining how Theo got his man. Among the highlights:

  • While meeting with Crawford and his agents, the Red Sox cited J.D. Drew as a player with an aversion to the spotlight who could nonetheless “thrive in Boston.”  Take that J.D. Drew haters;
  • Before the offers were on the table, Crawford, when asked, said that if the offers were equal, he’d pick Boston, which surprised everyone;
  • The Red Sox’ meetings with Jayson Werth were designed to be “misdirection to some other teams.” Or at least that’s what they told Crawford;
  • Contrary to reports that the Angels’ best offer was $108 million, that was merely an introductory lowball (the Red Sox had a lowball offer too, of $117 million). Just before Crawford agreed to go to Boston, the Angels matched the $142 million, based on Crawford’s agents saying that’s what would get the deal done.  When he went to Boston, Angels GM Tony Reagins is livid at Crawford’s agents, thinking that he was told that Crawford would go to Anaheim if they made that offer.  Crawford’s agents nope. That was the money, but there was never any guarantee.
  • Theo yelled “awesome!” from his hotel suite when Crawford accepted the offer. The only thing missing is how it went from “awesome!” to Pete Abraham’s Twitter account so quickly (I think it was there within minutes based on the story). Probably worth listening extra carefully to PeteAbe on future reports from the Red Sox front office.

Highly recommended reading while we wait for Cliff Lee reports.

The Japanese playoffs are super unfair

Hiroshima Carp
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I know a little about Japanese baseball. Not a lot, mind you. Like, I couldn’t hold my own with people who actually watch it or report on it or whatever, but I could explain some of the broad differences and similarities between the NPB and the U.S. majors.  I can say a few things about how the two leagues compare competitively speaking. I can name some stars and (I think) all the clubs. But there’s, quite obviously, a ton I don’t know.

A thing I did not know until today: the NPB playoffs are really messed up.

The NPB is divided into two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, with the winner of each league facing off in the Japan Series. Like the U.S. majors, they have preliminary playoff rounds in each league. Each league has three playoff teams, with the second and third seed teams playing a series first, and the winner of that series playing the top seed — the team with the best record in the league — in what is called the Climax Series.

Here’s the weird part: the higher-seeded team in the Climax Series — the team which won the league in the regular season — gets every single playoff game at home. What’s more, that team begins the Climax Series with an automatic 1-0 advantage. So, yes, it’s a seven-game series on paper, but one of the teams only has to win three games to advance to the Japan Series.

Oh, in Japan, they also have no problems ending a playoff game early if it rains. That’s what happened in the Central League Climax Series last night, where the lower-seeded Yokohama BayStars took on the league champ Hiroshima Carp. Here’s the report from Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times:

The rainy conditions in Hiroshima caused the umpires to stop play for over 30 minutes and ultimately call the game after five innings, minutes after the Carp put three runs on the board. Just like that, it was over. The Carp won 3-0, with Yokohama robbed of the four innings (at least) it would’ve had to try and rally.

Even better: as Coskrey notes, there are five days in between the end of the Climax Series and the beginning of the Japan Series, so there is no reason they could not suspend a game and resume it the next day. They just choose not to. The upshot: the Carp were staked to a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they had only played five innings of baseball. UPDATE: they played a full game today, the BayStars won, so now it’s 2-1 Hiroshima.

Imagine if that happened in the NLCS. Imagine if the Dodgers began the series with a 1-0 lead over the Cubs and played all of their games in Los Angeles. Imagine there was a freak L.A. storm and it ended one of the game in the fifth inning, right after Justin Turner hit a homer. I’m pretty sure people would riot.

Kinda makes our complaints about the replay system seem rather quaint, eh?