“HOT TICKET,LOUSY TEAM”; SOME REASONS TO BELIEVE

April 19, 2010

It’s never too early for Red Sox people to start whining. Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald, uttered that above statement and then wrote:

“The Red Sox stink.
OK, we’ll soften it a little. The Red Sox stink right now.
But be honest: The way the Red Sox have played so far this season, is this a team that deserves your unquestioned support?
Yes, there’s still plenty of baseball to be played, and guys have been hurt, and the new guys are still learning Fenway Park’s nooks and crannies, and they did show some comeback spirit early this morning, blah, blah, blah.
But the sobering reality is that the 2010 Red Sox have been shockingly sloppy. So much so that they are starting to make a mockery of their much-touted streak of consecutive Fenway Park sellouts, which is 555 and counting.
The Red Sox hit rock bottom last night/this morning. We’re not talking about rock bottom in the American League East (that dis-honor goes to the Baltimore Orioles, who will be lucky to win 50 games), but in terms of what a lot of people expected of the 2010 Red Sox, they officially angered every one of their fans in dropping two games to Tampa Bay.
Before last night’s scheduled game began, the Sox and Rays had to complete Friday’s game, which was suspended because of rain, the game tied 1-1 in the
bottom of the ninth. The Sox lost the suspended game 3-1, with the Rays’ Pat Burrell hitting a two-run homer off Manny Delcarmen in the top of the 12th,
and the Rays came away with a 6-5 victory in the full game that followed.
For those of you who sat through all of this, what bothered you the most?
Was it that the Sox managed to load the bases with nobody out in the 11th inning of the suspended game and couldn’t score a run?
Was it the melon that Delcarmen threw to Burrell for the two-run homer?
Or, was it the regularly scheduled game that followed?
Yeah, that would be it. As in Sox starter Clay Buchholz needing 43 pitches to get out of the first inning.
Then again, it wasn’t all his fault. With two on and two out, Carlos Pena hit a liner to center fielder Mike Cameron that should have been an easy,
inning-ending out . . . except that it clanged off Cameron’s glove. Buchholz then walked B.J. Upton, after which Burrell doubled to right, capping a four-run rally.
On a night when the Sox were short of pitchers – this because newly christened dad Jonathan Papelbon was away from the team and Daniel Bard had worked two innings in the completion of the suspended game – Buchholz was now guaranteed not to go deep into the nightcap.
He did settle down, allowing no further scoring, but was gone after five innings and 108 pitches.
The Sox finally scored a run in the bottom of the fifth on a Marco Scutaro homer, but the new shortstop gave that run right back in the sixth. With Scott Atchison now pitching, Scutaro booted a grounder hit by Upton, who stole second . . . went to third on a wild pitch . . . and then scored on a double to right by John Jaso.
In other words, all five Tampa Bay runs up to this point were unearned.
When Longoria walloped an Atchison pitch over the Green Monster for a home run in the seventh inning, it was Tampa Bay’s first earned run of the game.
Whatever concerns you had about the Red Sox coming into this season, last night’s action validated them.
Offense? Until Scutaro’s home run, the Sox had gone 11 innings without scoring a run. The Sox made it close with four runs in the seventh, including home runs by Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis but, sorry, close-but-no-cigar finishes don’t cut it.
Defense? Two more errors last night, accounting for those five unearned runs.
Throwing runners out? The Rays are 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts in the two games.
Bullpen? After Delcarmen gave up the two-run homer to Burrell, Red Sox manager Terry Francona, meeting with reporters between games, made no attempt to conceal his feelings.
“Fastball, high, over the plate,” he said, grimacing a little. “(Burrell) took a good swing. (Delcarmen) got behind on the count, gave him too much to hit.”
Put all of this together, and it brings us right back to that streak of Fenway sellouts. The Red Sox are understandably proud of their streak, but the problem here is that it grows and grows based on the performances of past teams.
These Red Sox, so far, don’t deserve the packed houses. And that’ll be the real tragedy if the Sox don’t turn it around: great crowds watching bad baseball.”

Dan Shaughnessy wrote, in the Boston Globe, about HIS Celtics and the NBA playoffs  (it makes me very jealous because I only have the Knicks.)
“They said they could flip the switch, and they did.
The Celtics kicked off their playoff season last night, recovering from a 14-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Miami Heat, 85-76, in the first game of their best-of-seven series.
So for one night, we believe. We believe they were on cruise control over the last five months and are now able to play serious basketball in the games that
matter. There’s still work to be done in the areas of rebounding and running the floor, but for one night the Celtics played the kind of defense that marked their ubuntu championship spring of 2008.
Old-timers like to cite the 1968-69 Celtics as the inspiration for this team. The Celtics of ’68-69 went 48-34 during the regular season and had six guys 30 or
older at the end of the season. Then they won three rounds in the playoffs, beating the Lakers for the title in Bill Russell’s last game.
Those Celtics had a star in his prime named John Havlicek, and who would have guessed that mercurial Tony Allen would morph into the Hondo of the new century?
It’s true. Allen was Mr. Sixth Man last night, beating the Heat with All-Star defense and a surprise surge of scoring. He played 29 Havlicekian minutes,
scoring 14 points with three steals and two blocks, guarding Dwyane Wade for most of the second half. All this came on the night Allen won the Comcast
SportsNet Sixth Star Award.
“The key for us was the defense Tony Allen did on Dwyane Wade,’’ said Celtics captain Paul Pierce.
This was Kevin Garnett’s first playoff game since the epic Game 6 in the Finals against the Lakers two years ago. That was the night the Celtics won banner
No. 17 and KG said, “Anything’s possible!’’ One win against the Heat doesn’t put the Celtics back into the Finals against the Lakers but it’s a start, and
there’s at least something to build on if you want to believe that anything is possible again this year.
Garnett scored 15 points with nine rebounds (33 minutes) in his return to the playoffs. He also earned two technicals and an ejection for coming to the defense of Pierce after Pierce crumbled to the floor near the Miami bench in the final minute. It was one of those foxhole moments that galvanized the Green in 2008 and sends the Celtics into Game 2 with additional purpose.
“The only thing I saw was Paul hurt and that’s the only thing I cared about,’’ said Garnett. “Q [Quentin Richardson] was standing over Paul and talking and 
thought it was disrespectful. You’ve got to give common courtesy for the injured player. If I see one of my teammates down, I’ve got to deal with it.’’
“I think it helped us in some ways,’’ said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “It allowed us to get our emotions in check.’’
Garnett threw an elbow during the fracas and there’s some fear he might be penalized. (ed: a one-game rip)
“I’m smarter than that and I’ve got to have better composure,’’ Garnett acknowledged.
The Celtics held the Heat to 10 points in the fourth quarter. Miami shot less than 40 percent from the floor (39.7).
“That’s the type of team we are,’’ said Pierce. “We only scored 85, but we can live with that. It wasn’t about offense. It was about how we played defense.’’
“I got upset one time tonight,’’ said Rivers. “A couple of minutes into the third. I thought we were hanging our heads and our offense was starting to dictate our defense. We can’t do that. We’re a defensive team. After that, I thought we played hard. We showed some resolve that we didn’t show in the second half of the season. We hung in long enough, we found the right combination on the floor, and we turned the game around.’’
As for “Big Game’’ Rasheed Wallace, he scored 4 points with one rebound in 14 minutes. Maybe he’s saving his energy for the next round.
The Celtics and Heat resume the series Tuesday at the Garden.
“When you get Game 1, that sets the tone for the series,’’ said Pierce. “Hopefully in Game 2 we’ll continue to play this way.’’
Garnett could be the key. The Celtics don’t want to lose him to a silly suspension for Game 2. Garnett’s absence was the reason the Celtics failed to get out of the second round last year.
“I thought tonight he looked fresher than he looked all year,’’ said Rivers.
Another reason to believe.”

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