The Orioles sweeping the Sox is not "humiliating," so just cut it out

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Matsusaka hangs head in shame.jpgI’m not gonna say that the Red Sox’ sweep at the hands of the Orioles wasn’t six kinds of bad for Boston because it was, but the level of fretting I’ve read about it since yesterday is getting out of hand. Take this post from WEEI’s Alex Speier. If you didn’t know any better you’d think that the Sox were swept by someone from the Carolina League or something.

Baltimore is described as “the lowly Orioles,” and “easy marks” who everyone thought would provide “three easy wins.”  The article laments the fact that the Red Sox could not “manhandle” or “annihilate” an Orioles team that is on par with a “brutally bad” Royals team from 2006. The sweep is referred to as “an alarming turn of events” and “a humiliating series of games” which provides a “dark commentary” on
the Red Sox’ season.

I’m not trying to pick on Speier here — his is merely representative
of any number of articles I’ve seen and, rhetoric aside, his analysis is spot-on — but isn’t this laying it on a bit thick? Is it not possible that Baltimore isn’t as bad a team as their record thus far indicates and that Boston isn’t as good as their preseason press assumed?

More generally it’s worth noting that this is baseball, and no one “manhandles” or “annihilates” anyone in this game. Even the best teams you tend to see in any given year win less than two out of every three games, and every World Series champ in living memory has dropped a series on the road to a division rival.

Which, by the way, is one of the reasons baseball is cool. Football has popularized the “any given Sunday” thing, but every year there’s a team or two in the NFL that buzzes through the season and for whom a single loss to a lesser team truly does represent some “dark commentary.” It’s in baseball where anything cab happen on a given night — or three given nights in a row — and often does.

Because of this it makes little sense to characterize this weekend’s series in the way I’m seeing it characterized.  A characterization, I may add, that is profoundly disrespectful to an Orioles team that, though it has struggled early, possesses a great deal of talent.

Yasmani Grandal played himself out of NLCS Game 4

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Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.

Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.

Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.

Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.