The Second Boston Massacre

The rivals square off again this afternoon, but the storyline for this series, barring extraordinary events, has already been established. The Yanks went into play last night having demolished the Sox pitching staff in three consecutive, utterly disheartening (and extremely long) games. With Schilling on the mound, the Sox at least had a good shot to put a break on the Yankees and salvage the series. Instead, they got something arguably worse, or at least more depressing, than another blowout: a blown save from Papelbon, and a Yankee win in extras. Blame “Slow Hook” Francona, blame Theo, blame the fates—it matters not. Any win by the Sox today will be Pyrrhic, at least in terms of this set; the Yanks have hardly clinched the division, despite the lead. There’s too much baseball left to play for that, and the truth is, as much as the Yankees have exposed the weaknesses of the Sox over the past four games, their own deficiencies have also been quite evident. Yes, they have jacked 47 runs off Boston. But the Sox have put up 26 of their own, and the Bomber starting pitching has looked anything but dominant. The Yankees may be the better club right now, they may be the best club in baseball right now, but this is a team with its own shortcomings. The fate of teams in the playoffs that rely so heavily on their offenses should give Yankee fans some pause.

But what an offense that is. The Sox pitching may be weak, but the difficulty of pitching to the pitch-eating Yankee lineup cannot be overestimated. From top to bottom, Damon to Melky, the Yankees work over an opposing pitcher like no other team I’ve ever seen. Even Cano is becoming more selective, and the vicious top-of-the-order gauntlet of Damon-Jeter-Abreu-Giambi is unparalleled. And then you have Alex and Jorge making a Cano sandwich. Has a lineup ever demanded more work?

We close with a note: Derek Jeter has twice come through with the crucial hit in 2-out situations in this series. Meanwhile, the headline on the Boston game program is “MVPapi.” Not so fast.

20 comments… add one
  • Papi is a wonder, a most valuable something. But when the Sox finish 6, 7, 8 games out of the playoff hunt there should be no debate about whether Papi should win the award. He shouldn’t. And he won’t. Sadly, he can thank the pitching staff, his manager, and his GM for ruining what will probably be his best chance at winning the award.

    SF August 21, 2006, 11:16 am
  • To me, Abreu has refocused the Yankees on taking pitches and grinding staffs down. Bernie claims they were selective before he arrived. But now, it’s like the ’98 team in that particular aspect.
    It was also floated by an announcer, maybe McCarver, that the team that doesn’t make the playoffs will have their MVP candidate disqualified, or at the very least a long shot, for the award. On another note, did Joe Buck take the day off on Sat? Why wasn’t he calling the play-by-play?
    With the season on the line, Papelbon was unable to do what Rivera has done over the years in those situations: carry the bullpen on his back with a multi-inning save. So let’s stop comparing the rookie to Mo.
    While the Sox are certainly mathematically in it, the weaknesses exposed are fundamentally structural. How could a team not have a lefty in the pen coming into this series? How far can any team go without a genuine lefty reliever? The Lopez call-up seems a day late and a dollar short.

    lp August 21, 2006, 11:20 am
  • I take issue with saying that Papelbon faltered “with the season on the line.” It is August.
    This isn’t over.
    I wish that were the case.

    Yankee Fan In Boston August 21, 2006, 11:23 am
  • I went to all 4 and this was the worst weekend of my life.
    I have nothing to smile about.
    That was absurd.
    They just aren’t the better team right now.

    LocklandSF August 21, 2006, 11:29 am
  • We knew going into the series that the Sox weren’t the better team. This just hammers that point home.

    Kazz SF August 21, 2006, 11:37 am
  • YF in Boston,
    The division was certainly on the line. Semantics aside, it was the biggest moment of his 4 month career and the biggest game for the Sox this season-to-date.
    The broader point is that he is not worthy of the same considerations as Rivera, who has excelled in those situations in the past.
    And I do believe that the division race is over (unless a serious wave of injuries hits the Yankees), especially when you look at the schedules.

    lp August 21, 2006, 11:46 am
  • lp:
    i will surely grant you that the kid has a ways to go before we mention his name in the same breath at mr. rivera. also that last night’s appearance was easily the biggest of his career. it felt like a world series game.
    maybe the sox won’t win the division, but a wild card is not completely out of the question. (i admit that i haven’t checked the schedules remaining for the contending teams other than the yankees and red sox, so you might have spotted something i did not.)
    is mussina really hurt?
    will proctor’s arm still be attached to his shoulder next month?
    there are still a few games for these teams to play head-to-head.
    i just think writing off the sox completely would be a bit premature.
    (hopefully you are correct, however.)

    Yankee Fan In Boston August 21, 2006, 11:55 am
  • lp, You’re right. Mariano has NEVER blown a save in a key situation against the Red Sox. Certainly not in July 2004 with a chance to put the Sox away or with the Sox’ heads on his platter in two crucial ALCS playoff games.
    You’re right. We should all acknowledge the perfection of Rivera…

    Paul SF August 21, 2006, 12:13 pm
  • Also, lp, did that 8th inning signify nothing to you? Coming in with the bases loaded and nobody out and giving up 1 is pretty impressive, eh? Something I’ve seen Mariano do and which I’ve complimented him on.

    Devine August 21, 2006, 12:28 pm
  • Paul,
    Rivera delivered in MANY more of those situations than he hasn’t. The sheer volume of opportunities points to the obvious: a 4 month old rookie who’s still wearing his Huggies should not be compared to one of the greatest, if not the greatest, closer ever. Talk to me when he notches back-to-back six out saves in October. Until then, he’s just another fair-weather Hall of Famer RSN wants to shoot its mouths off about. The list is highly delusional and extensive. (Remember when Nomar was better than Jeter? How’d that turn out?)
    It’s a comparison that only chest pumping Reds Sox fans would dare to make (and ESPN statisticians desperate for a hokey graphic).
    I’ll take your sarcasm as a submission sign…

    lp August 21, 2006, 12:44 pm
  • At some point yesterday, ESPN showed the runs for/against for the original “Boston Massacre” and then the first four games of this series. The runs scored by the Yankees were similar (both around 40), but the runs given up were entirely different. The original massacre was full-spectrum dominance. 40-someodd runs scored, only 9 given up. That’s an asswhoopin’
    This series the Yanks have hemorraged runs too, but the offense (and Red Sox pitching, working in concert) has masked it.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) August 21, 2006, 12:54 pm
  • So true, Rob. I noticed that as well. It almost seems like this team would be better off running out the ace of the 78 squad. He’s even on the roster!
    Who needs Lidle? Pitch Gator!

    YF August 21, 2006, 12:59 pm
  • Sox fans here at least have always limited their comments to this year — Papelbon is better this year than Mariano, etc etc etc.
    The fact that Yankee fans have to keep pulling these quotes out of context — despite our many praises of Rivera — says a lot more about the generic Yankee fan’s insecurities about his team and players in this championship drought… And maybe pointed at a little bit of fear that maybe Rivera wasn’t the best anymore.

    Paul SF August 21, 2006, 12:59 pm
  • Can we please stop the Papelbon/Rivera comparisons, on both sides? Rivera’s the best closer ever (his crumbles against the D-Backs and Sox aside). Papelbon is a supremely talented rookie who is having a great season as a closer (and who may not be a closer for very long). It’s really (here comes the blunt word) stupid to put the two against each other. There’s no contest. Any YFs who want to tear down Paps for last night (or his recent struggles) are doing themselves a disservice – they are being the predictable New York bullies looking for an easy target. Any Sox fans who feel the need to crap on Rivera or think that Papelbon is somehow in his league are deluded. Enough with this.
    As for last night, Papelbon was thrust into a situation in the eighth and did a superb job, it sounds like (I didn’t see the game, but have read up on what happened). Had he come in to start the inning (which he should have, based on the amount of rest he had and the clear fact that Tito was obviously willing to use him for six outs), we might have had a different result. Thank the manager for poor managing. Once again, Terry’s stubbornness and lack of pitching feel made a difficult situation even more so. That’s a cardinal sin, from my standpoint, player performance aside. Francona failed again last night, and his team still almost won.

    SF August 21, 2006, 1:01 pm
  • I posted virually this same comment in the above thread about 2 minutes ago. great minds…..

    YF August 21, 2006, 1:03 pm
  • Go Dodgers!
    Sorry. That’s all I got.

    MJL in L.A. August 21, 2006, 1:11 pm
  • Oh, the Paps/Mo comaprison certainly didn’t start here. I was merely reminding Paul how ridiculous it is – as I will continue to do so as long as other make it and until Papelbon earns his stripes.
    And Papelbon is in no way the source of the Sox meltdown this weekend.

    lp August 21, 2006, 1:55 pm
  • “Papelbon earns his stripes”
    What does this mean, exactly? It’s an empty phrase, frankly. Until his team makes it to the WS and he nails one down? Until he’s better than every closer in history? What has Paps done to NOT earn his stripes? He’s young, granted, but he’s more than was originally asked of him, and has exceeded all expectations.

    SF August 21, 2006, 2:02 pm
  • “Papelbon is as good as anyone in baseball. It says a lot about this team that we were able to get those runs off him,” Jeter said.

    Anonymous August 21, 2006, 2:15 pm
  • He has not delivered in big situations the way Rivera has. That’s why it’s dumb to compare the two. Making comparisons to a future HOFer based on the past 4 months, as some on this site have gleefully done, is taking Rivera’s career out of context.
    Papelbon is good, but greatness remains in his future. That’s what I mean by earning his stripes. Four months at the major league level is not enough to quantify any player. Two seasons, after the league has made adjustments, maybe.
    “Papelbon is as good as anyone in baseball. It says a lot about this team that we were able to get those runs off him.”
    Why would Jeter give the Sox any ammunition for the clubhouse bulletin board?

    lp August 21, 2006, 2:20 pm

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