In 2003 there was a movie released called holes. The description from IMDB is "A wrongfully convicted boy is sent to a brutal desert detention camp where he joins the job of digging holes for some mysterious reason".
What does this have to do with sports right now? Probably nothing. Needed a title for this post though and "Holes" seemed appropriate. Besides, "digging holes for some mysterious reason" sounds a little like the RedSox lately.
The Yankees won a dramatic game in a dramatic fashion last night on an Arod 2-run blast in the 15th hanging up the only non-zeroes of the night.
What the RedSox have accomplished, if accomplishments are like "whole" numbers with a scale that goes negative too, is almost unimaginable on July 14th, the night of the All-Star game.
On the 14th, the Sox owned a modest 3 game lead over the Yankees, were 20 games above .500 and seemingly in the driver's seat and healthy. Here is what I would have said that day had I posted a recap of the first half:
Catcher - Varitek has been a pleasant surprise so far, not for his average but for his production. He has been contributing and not hurting the team so far and has, for the moment, quieted the criticisms.
First - Youkilis has been very good. His torrid start to the season went into May. He is a force to be dealt with and a good partner for Pedroia on the right side of the infield.
Second - Pedroia hasn't gone on a tear yet but has played well and as always, played hard. Will likely have a great 2nd half.
Short - the position of mystery for Theo Epstein's tenure. Nick Green has played way above expectations while filling in for injured Jed Lowry. Need Lowry's return to improve for the 2nd half.
Third - Mike Lowell has been hitting well but is limited now in the field. He no longer is a very good defensive player. Better results so far than could have been expected.
Leftfield - Jason Bay has had a first half that is reason enough to resign him now. Enough said.
Centerfield - Up and down, Jacoby Ellsbury has recently found some consistency hitting lower in the lineup. Getting on base more will help in the 2nd half.
Rightfield - JD Drew has hit decently but without much power this season. He continues to play good D and is what he is.
DH - biggest disappointment this season so far. David Ortiz is lucky to have the support of the management and maintain his status as an everyday player.
Starting Pitching - early trouble by Dice K has left him rehabbing. Beckett is Beckett and Lester is Lester. Penny has had bright spots and won some games. Wakefield has been terrific and made his first All-Star game.
Relievers - awesome combination of arms, best in baseball despite Papelbon's wildness and love for pitches not his fastball.
Overall grade :A-
Now, since July 14th, things have dramatically changed. Read this reply by an unnamed fan (not me - wish it had been though, my thoughts completely) on the Boston.com (boston globe) site yesterday to an article:
Ok - it's reality time
Theo finally remembered that this is a business and not an old boys country club.
He jettisoned Smoltz- too late but better late than never- sometimes experiments don't work - lose him and move on
Now Papi - When he warmed up in June and raised his average to a lofty .241, everyone gave him a pass. Well, now he's back to .221 and still hitting in the middle of the order. I AM a statistician, but anyone with a grade 5 education knows that after 3 months hitting .241 total, you need to be way under .200 in July to drop it back to .221, like around .180 or less. He's not even thinking about baseball. He's trying to play CYA for the steroid thing.
Now he says he didn't know - the other 103 guys knew, but someone forgot to tell the biggest and fattest guy in the room....yah probably...cut him loose - waive him, designate him, put him on a bus to anywhere with a one-way ticket. Jonathan Van Every won't bat .180...and he can actually play the field instead of just block the sunshine in half of the dugout
Brad Penny - needs Smoltz therapy - another guy with only one pitch and it's very hittable
Shortstop - call me up. I'm 62 and can play better than they can......what a disgrace.
Jason Bay - wrap up your leg and get out there dude- the season is slipping away - it's not Pittsburgh, where the season ends when the Steelers head to pre-season camp
Ditto for Drew - suck it up
And last and certainly least - V-tek, Capt....now the capt. of the Titanic....hitting in the lofty .220s again......41 RBI with all those guys in front of you getting on base...you are a sad sack....be glad you're a catcher of sorts- any other position you'd be out of baseball or the third stringer on the Ft. Myers Miracle..." called strike three " - Orsillo's favorite comment when you're up......when you come up with a guy on base, I hope you strike out, so there won't be a double play
The Yankees are running away and here come the Rays.......there are no prizes for finishing third
By the way - Wakefiled went to the all-star game in fine health
didn't pitch there or even warm up
comes home and can't walk - what the hell was he doing there??????
Did he try to climb the St. Louis Arch from the outside and fall off?
And there sits our leader, Francona...what a frontrunner.....things are bad dude...wake up and do something...start showing some emotion...I wish someone would take his private capt. chair in the dugout and rap it over his head....the season is going away - do you know? - do you care?
I've watched day after day of excuses, never raising a voice, never getting fired up...no wonder the players love him...it doesn't matter if they do anything.....
CAN'T WATCH ANYMORE - thank goodness I have the MLB package...there are other real games to watch........ by the way, how is Cliff Lee doing with Philly? Couldn't we have had him?..ditto Halladay...........
So back to Holes. The Sox have dug a hole that is far greater than the 4.5 games they currently sit behind the Yankees. Lets count the # of holes:
Hole #1 : catcher. What? You thought getting Victor Martinez was the patch job for this pothole? It coulda shoulda but until I see Tito using Martinez more often as catcher I am not convinced. His loyalty to Varitek will leave this as a semi-filled hole.
Hole #2 : shortstop. Lowry's recent injury to his arm/hand didn't take a hot bat out of the lineup, it was the further developing sinkhole known as shortstop for the RedSox organization. This hole continues to get bigger and bigger.
Hole #3 : thirdbase. Mike Lowell can slap the ball around still but doesn't really drive it anymore. He is a liability at third now and the beginnings of a nice big pothole has emerged. While it isn't and won't become a sinkhole, a hole is a hole.
Hole #4 : Leftfield. Jason Bay was tremendous through most of June. Then he slumped, all the way down to the .250 range. That would have been ok, slumps happen, rebound in the 2nd half and all slumps get forgotten. Unfortunately he now has hamstring issues and while still slumping is out of the lineup.
Hole #5 : Rightfield. JD Drew's play has slumped in June/July as well. He too battles nagging injuries and we haven't seen his annual back issues show up yet.
Hole #6 : DH. David Ortiz has struggled to hit .220 all year long. His bat is no longer feared by the opposition and with the defensive shift his lackluster bat often grounds out to the right side.
Hole #7 : SP. The rotation was over crowded a month ago. Down goes Wake. Down goes DiceK (thankfully). Down and out goes Smoltz. Add in a Penny that has no shine anymore and the rotation is in trouble. Clay Buchholz, the untouchable young arm, doesn't appear ready emotionally to pitch and help. Today should be fun to watch and see if he self destructs in Yankee Stadium.
It is tough to feel sorry for your team. As has been written, so much promise was put on signings of past injured players, players that were relatively cheap in nature. It really hasn't panned out and the revamping that will need to be done again in the offseason will be a true test.
What can this hole ridden team do for the last 54 games? Maybe they can still win the wildcard, maybe. They need Jason Bay back soon and producing again. They need Tito to catch Martinez more often than Varitek. They need Buchholz and Penny to come up big once in a while and eat some innings. They need Ortiz to hit .250 the rest of the way with some RBI once in a while. They need Nick Green not to throw away balls late in important games. They need the players that have been steady to continue to be steady. Phew, seems like a long list of things to hope for over a short period of time.
If you fill in holes as fast as they appear are you ever getting ahead?
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