It’s Called a ‘Fastball’

We noticed last night that Jon Miller and Joe Morgan used the term "dead red" about 1200 times in the span of three innings towards the end of the game, particularly after Jonathan Papelbon entered the contest to blow away the heart of the Rangers’ order.  They weren’t referring to Papelbon’s beloved collection of Soviet tsotchkes, but rather his intimidating fastball. It’s most definitely an annoying term, and sadly we expect to hear it all season long.  I think we have this year’s ‘walkoff home run", a phrase we have no memory of ever hearing during our formative years but which has now become mainstream, mostly with the help of the talking heads at Sportscenter.

21 comments… add one
  • Papelbon was ridiculous last night. It was the only part of the RS game I caught (after Sopranos and Entourage), and all I could do was stare, mouth agape. 95 sure is fast, but it was the location and the sequences that were impressive. It’s going to be a fun year for you @#$%@#$#ers.

    tom yf April 9, 2007, 10:16 am
  • Right on SF. I mean, dead red.

    YF April 9, 2007, 10:20 am
  • Morgan has been using the term “Dead Red” for years.
    Joe Morgan. Annoying people since 1990.

    I'm Bill McNeal April 9, 2007, 11:22 am
  • I always thought “sitting dead red” just meant the batter was waiting for a fastball to drive far and deep.

    Andrew April 9, 2007, 11:51 am
  • I was gonna do a postmortem on that Papelbon performance, but this seems to serve that purpose. I guess if we assume Papelbon would have been a better starter than Tvarez, we can chalk the Sox’ “shoulda been” record at 1-1. Because there’s no way in hell any of the guys in the Sox bullpen, Tavarez included, do what Paps did to keep that game at one run. Fifteen pitches for five outs?? And those fastballs had a ton of life.
    I do recall hearing the term “walkoff home run” when I was a kid. But then I’m CONSIDERABLY younger than SF, who has fond memories of the days when the Sox sported the best outfield in baseball — Hooper, Lewis and Speaker. ;-)

    Paul SF April 9, 2007, 12:04 pm
  • The first known mention of a walk-off HR, at least according to Wiki, was in 1988 –
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walk-off_home_run
    Papelbon had some serious intensity going on there. It was almost frightening.

    Tyrel SF April 9, 2007, 12:10 pm
  • Papelbon’s performance was nothing short of dominant. He made Michael Young, who is a great hitter, look like a pitcher up there.
    Exhibit A for why I think his move to the bullpen helps the Sox.

    Nick-YF April 9, 2007, 12:13 pm
  • Paps looked very dominant. Originally he was not supposed to close because of injury risk and now he gets a two inning chance. Its not like francona knew it would only be 15 pitches worth of work. What is the thought process? Me, I thought the whole closing is more likely to cause and injury was a bogus argument to begin with.

    Seth April 9, 2007, 1:08 pm
  • I don’t see how Papelbon’s great success as a closer can be used to suggest that he would make a similarly great starter.
    Clearly, no matter how much life they have on them, Paps would not be able to get away forever with throwing so many fastballs in the zone over 6-7 innings.
    As a reliever, batters only get one look at him per game, and many won’t get more than a couple of at-bats against him all year.
    Plus he benefits from the contrast with whoever comes before him (especially on nights Wakefield pitches, that is if the Sox lineup ever actually supports Wakes and gets the team into a save situation when he’s is pitching).
    This is not to take anything away from Papelbon, just that it’s obviously a very different skill set, starting and closing.
    (Noted: Boston Dirt Dogs had to eat a little crow today after bashing the team yesterday for not having Paps in the rotation, saying his few innings in the pen were a waste of his talent. Then bang, he conclusively shows his value as a closer in a game that pretty much anyone else in the pen might have given away.)

    Hudson April 9, 2007, 1:50 pm
  • One more comment… I second Seth’s comment about the health issues. Only in this bizarre 21st Century world of totally micromanaging and babying pitchers would the idea of throwing 15-30 pitches a few times a week be deemed more of a risk than throwing 100 every 5-6 days. Yeah, he had trouble last year, but starting causes wear-and-tear as well.
    As ever, I point to great pitchers of the past who make today’s hurlers look like total wusses.
    Consider Luis Tiant, hardly remembered as a fitness buff: 189 complete games in his career (!)… Two complete games in three appearances in the 1975 World Series…
    Who’s the active pitcher with the most CGs right now, I wonde?

    Hudson April 9, 2007, 1:56 pm
  • I was in the “Papelbon should remain a starter” camp. I will not shie away from that position, it’s out there on the record all over this site. That being said, he certainly came in handy last night, though I expect that if put in that same situation several times the results won’t be consistently so spectacular. That is simply expecting too much from Papelbon, not a criticism. He was unbelievable last night.
    It’s unfair for those who wanted Paps to be the closer to say, after last night’s effort, “I told you so” — where were these people when Julian Tavarez was getting manhandled on Saturday? There’s no definitive answer yet on whether this was the right move. On two consecutive days it could be argued that it was both the wrong move (post-Saturday’s Tavarez appearance) and the absolute right one (last night). I don’t think this debate will die for some time, until Papelbon has shown that he can remain healthy as a closer or Tavarez (or Lester) perform well enough in the 5th spot of the rotation to show that the move has strengthened the Sox beyond any doubt. Last night was great, but Saturday was equally ugly. They come as a pair.

    SF April 9, 2007, 2:00 pm
  • The answer to the Tavarez problem is not to make Papelbon a starter. The answer (I hope) is Jon Lester.

    Hudson April 9, 2007, 2:02 pm
  • I hope so too, Hudson. But there’s a legitimate debate still to be had, since Papelbon was in the rotation, at least in theory. If Lester comes back strongly and Paps stays healthy, then moving JP to the pen will have been proven to be 100% right on. We’re nowhere near that point yet, last night’s brilliance notwithstanding.

    SF April 9, 2007, 2:06 pm
  • add that if Tavarez also pitches strongly as the 5th starter and Paps stays healthy, the move was good also. It doesn’t hinge on Lester, it hinges on the quality of the 5th starter.

    SF April 9, 2007, 2:07 pm
  • SF, the loss was partially Tavarez’s, but also partially the bullpen’s, namely JC Romero’s fault.
    Papelbon is so far worth a win, even more. Without him, the Sox would be 2-4. So yes, so far the move to the bullpen has worked out better than if he were in the rotation, simply because you can’t just predict a dominant start out of him. For all you know, he’d have gone 5 innings and Romero would still have given up 3 earned runs. In fact, that’s much more likely than Paps going 7 strong innings, since out of ST his velocity dropped and he’s primarily a 2-pitch pitcher.
    Face it, with the Sox offense the way it is, there’ll probably be many close games for the bullpen to blow. With Papelbon there, all those blown leads could turn into wins. You decide if a maybe shaky Papelbon starter is worth more than an unstoppable Papelbon closer.

    Andrew April 9, 2007, 3:18 pm
  • Without him, the Sox would be 2-4.
    Wait, how do we know the Sox wouldn’t have gotten out of the inning last night tied, then gone on to win the game?
    I am not arguing that Papelbon wasn’t wonderful last night, a savior. I am saying that last night doesn’t ice the case that the Sox are better off long-term with him as the closer. I’ll be thrilled if they are, because to me that will mean they have a really good #5 starter, whoever that might be.

    SF April 9, 2007, 4:11 pm
  • Were you watching the game, SF? Please try and tell me that anyone in the Red Sox bullpen other than Papelbon would have gotten out of that alive. Huge, huge chance that wouldn’t happen, while there’s also a large chance Papelbon wouldn’t have gotten past the fifth inning in Tavarez’s game, after which Romero would still have been brought in. It’s about chances, and the Sox’s are far better with Papelbon in the closer role. I think last night was a very good example of why the role of closer is indeed NOT overrated one bit.
    Plus, give Tavarez another chance. I well remember the praise Sox fans were heaping upon him last year for his admittedly solid outings.

    Andrew April 9, 2007, 5:29 pm
  • Tavarez does deserve more than one chance. Hell, Schilling’s first start was worse than Tavarez’s first start. I know, Schilling has a longer, better track record as a starter. But the point is, you don’t have enough of a sample from one start to make an accurate read.

    I'm Bill McNeal April 9, 2007, 7:27 pm
  • …i think they should have stayed with piniero longer…

    dc April 9, 2007, 7:32 pm
  • Tavarez has the shortest leash on the entire team in my eyes. With Hansack and Lester vying for that spot, if he sputters a couple more times, he should be gone.
    I don’t want him in the bullpen, either. He couldn’t get it done there last year, and there’s no evidence to suggest he’ll be any better in the same role a second time around. The team should put him on waivers, some NL club like Philly will pick him up, his salary isn’t that bad. Give his roster spot to someone more deserving.
    I don’t think Schill’s first start was worse than Tavarez’s. Still, Julian had J.C. Romero (and Tito) to thank for making it even worse after he was gone, though. Why Francona continues to stubbornly use Romero and Lopez (our freaking LOOGYs) in full setup roles against right-handed sluggers when he was Pineiro and Donnelly (who’s hardly getting used) is baffling to me.

    Steve April 9, 2007, 7:40 pm
  • Forgot to mention Snyder with the other two righties, as well.

    Steve April 9, 2007, 7:42 pm

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