Tagged: Lowell

Orioles Park, here I come!

I treated myself to tickets to both Red Sox-Orioles games this week. Field box seating, leaning more towards the visitor team dugout.

Thank goodness the weather cleared up. Thank goodness the temperatures went up a tad. I was ready to put on my waterproof skiing layers I had to resort to that, although if the rain had continued, odds are the game would have been canceled altogether since half of DC was flooded by yesterday.

So what if the Sox is coming out of a lost series. I’m going to watch the Sox play live! This would make a new personal record of watching the Sox play four times in a year. Add in the Nationals game tickets I have for early June, it’s a record three regular season baseball games and two spring training exhibition games. Hey, I’m getting as much in as I can. The opportunity disappears soon.

Here’s to watching Beckett pitch.

By the way, Lowell’s book is now available in bookstores.

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Town loyalty

During a drive home from the airport, Mum and I engaged in a rather lively discourse over Lowell. By this point, we knew he had a deal and was, well, pretty much a done deal for staying in Boston another three years.

                                                   

A player like Lowell had a couple of fantastic years, especially once he was traded into Boston. One has to remember, though, that he had been considered by many as a “throw in” in the deal for Beckett. While a great gain it turned out to be, it hadn’t been Lowell’s reputation at the time. He doesn’t have a long streak of being the best of the best, as some of the “older” players like ARod, Schilling, which, while he is hot at the moment, make not make his as valuable in the free agent market as he’d like. Or as many of us like to think of him.

                                    

At this point and age, moving from team can be detrimental. He’s a valuable player at the moment, but he may not remain so for long. When how much of a career he has left, is anyone’s guess. For a player like him, a move can potentially lead to the difference between mediocracy and a homebase star. I thought of how staying in one city provides a player some stability. What I overlooked was how creating a home fan base can boost a player’s popularity and branding.

                        

Compare the case of (*gulp*) Johnny Damon. He was a popular Red Sox player for the fans. He was a terrific player with a huge fan base. Looking past his betrayal to the fans, where is he now? With the Yankees, and not with as much fanfare, popularity, or playtime as he may have been able to secure if he had stayed on with the Red Sox, especially immediately after being a member of the core team of a World Series win.

                                  

A new team means being given a different role. I don’t mean role as in defense position. I mean a dynamic of being a newcomer in a completely different team that has a completely different style, pattern, and history. Lowell, Damon were key members of a core team that won the World Series. Imagine if the Red Sox were to bring in a new player to the team now. Even if this hypothetical he is replacing a major gap, he has to work with who and what are the status quos, Francona’s existing perspectives and biases of existing players, and just the face that most of the players have a strong bond already, as a well-oiled team that won. It would be the same for a player leaving this team for another.

                                          

tessa was right. Boston has been good to Lowell. And his decision to stay highlights his appreciation of that. To quote him on his interveiew: “I have financial security so I’d like to believe I’m not all about money. I feel like I’m more of a baseball player than a businessman. I kind of weighed where I felt comfortable, where I thought I could produce the best with the team that has a chance to win a world championship, and it was Boston. On top of that, we just won and I think I played with a set of teammates that are unparalleled and with a manager the same way and with a fan base that’s unbelievable.”

                         

Welcome home, Lowell. It good to have you here.

                              

… tomorrow. A post on Thanksgiving, homecoming, and giving.

News, at last

Lowell may take the three-year deal after all. I’m curious to see the dollar value, to see how much the Sox thinks he is worth, and how much he agrees that he is worth. It is good news, indeed. Not only has he played well, he seemed to exhibit a quiet leadership for the team, a complement and addition to Variteck.

                   

Yes, great news indeed. I shall enjoy my Thanksgiving by going back to a very happy Red Sox Nation.

It’s Awards Week!!

Congratulations, Pedroia, for a very well-deserved Rookie of the Year award! There never was a question that you were the winner, but it was awfully nice to see you prove it beyond doubt in your performance last month.

How can one not chuckle when looking at this picture. Look! At the difference in height between the two!

On the same token, the team teases him with “low five”!

 

I didn’t forget the already awarded awards:

Youkilis for Golden Glove
– Papi for Silver Slugger
– Seriously, is there a Bronze award coming up?? 

                                 

Other stuff:

– Sad news. No agreement reached between Lowell and the Sox. We just may be saying goodbye when the other teams start contacting him.
– Next: Cy Young!!

Finally

Lowell files for free agency. No, he filed yesterday. I’m just behind with the news.

                           

I’m awondering. Journalists are reporting that he wants a four-year deal. Now I’m curious about the whole notion of working by limited time contracts. I know professional sports is a tough lifestyle and sometimes very much a game of Russian roulette. These guys are told that they “peak” at an age at least a decade younger than the rest of us average human beings.

                               

Even in a relatively low contact sport like baseball, injuries happen rather easily and sometimes completely ends a player’s career. So I understand, from the business point-of-view why teams have short-term commitments to players.

         

I remember once asking my father about the unfairness of life. Why do middle class people like him toil away long hours in a sometimes frustrating job and make just enough while kids so much younger get paid millions to play ball? How does that logic play out. The answer: risk. Many of us have some relative job security. Those players don’t. They get paid millions as they tether the risk of hurting themselves and finding themselves without a job very quickly. 

             

So Lowell asks for a four year contract. Four years. That’s quite a long time, especially for someone who’s 33 (and looks much older than that). I can’t blame him for asking. He had a phenomenal year. And he has proved to be a great teammate and an understated leader. If he had been just a bit younger, I would have been ready to suggest he be Varitek’s successor as captain. So he can’t be blamed if he uses his great year as a bargaining chip for the Sox to keep him and to establish some stability and a longer-term guarantee. As a fan, I say, emotionally, yes, let’s keep him.

From a purely business perspective though, it’s a lot of investment on someone well into his 30’s. Anything can happen in four years. A whole new generation of players are coming up and making it big. It is always so exciting, too, to watch a rookie blossom and grow as we watch them. So there won’t be a lack of players to replace the position, and probably at a lesser cost.

                

Folks are getting paid the big bucks to make those tough decisions. And I’ll settle with my simple job. And my responsibility to be a loud and vocal fan.

How Red Sox are you?

I’m clapping like a gleeful 4-year-old with the news of the clubhouse exercising the option for Wakefield. Yes, he is injured. Yes, he had not had a good postseason. Yes, he had not had a good end of the regular season. But 17 wins in a season? It counts for something. It counts for a lot. Then there is also the intangible.

I alluded often to the “Red Sox identity.” The postseason really emphasizes on how professional baseball is different from school teams. It’s business. I don’t say it in a demeaning way, just factually. But, given all that, once the player is on a team, he plays for the team. I didn’t see a single person on that team being half-hearted about the World Series win, even if he was bound for free agency. All this, after all, is a team sport.

But some players got deeper into the sense of team and seem to adopt the team as his home team. Those players identify themselves as a member of that specific team, regardless of pay, and regardless of team’s hardware or lack thereof. Of course, this sense of is limited to some common sense factors like decent treatment from the clubhouse, some level of loyalty to the coaching staff and nucleus team composition.

Some players I feel had developed a true sense of Red Sox identity:

  • Varitek (obviously, the captain)
  • Youkilis
  • Ortiz
  • and Wakefield (for whose return I truly celebrate)

Some, I hope, will develop as they go deeper into their budding careers, and some of whom are starting to show it, but are really too rookie to tell:

  • Papelbon
  • Pedroia
  • Ellsbury

Finally, some who want to, providing the club demonstrates some reciprocal treatment:

  • Lowell
  • Schilling, to some degree

And I’ll dare to say it: sometimes I feel Manny is Red Sox, other times I wonder if he plays more for himself. He certainly has helped define the Red Sox with his seemingly carefree and loose attitude. But who has his loyalty? We may technically hold the contract but what is his heart saying? I can’t tell.

Also, I have no idea where to place Crisp and Beckett. I hope Beckett joins the club in more ways than a contractual agreement. Being the ace certainly made him more appealing but how red does he bleed? How red is he capable of bleeding?

Back to normal

The euphoria has faded and I’m struggling to develop some semblance of a routine life now that postseason no longer disrupts.

It seems like the victory parade had not yet started yesterday and the baseball news of contracts and free agents have replaced the Sox being World Series champs. This no longer is the baseball of American past time and long loyal fans. This is, very simply, business. All this business reminds me of the heartbreak I felt when I finally understood the team I knew was not going to remain intact after the 2004 championship win.

The face of Red Sox has changed a lot the past decade. I wasn’t aware of the changing mentality until 2004. Growing up, I thought of the Red Sox as my home team, the fans as fellow Massachusetts natives. I assumed all fans came from the area. And I assumed players play with the same kind of loyalty for the team for life unless they were truly truly bad.

Realistically, trading, free agents all existed all this time. I just did not have a grasp of all these concepts. I had the naive thinking that professional baseball was just an older and higher-paid version of high school baseball where we held loyalties due solely to our associations.

No, this is professional baseball, where in-between the competitive bid for the postseason and entertaining fans with the American past time, it is also about money, business, and marketing. In some cases, the players demand more recognition and comparable pay. In some cases, but rarer cases, the players get so caught up on their value to the point of a distorted self-image. In some, it is completely out of their control.

So, while we fans are willing the clubhouse to keep our favourite players, the front office is continuing to do what they are hired to do: strategise and plan the next team to win the next World Series, preferably next year.

But it’s not stopping me from saying this:

Re-Sign Lowell, DAMMIT, if you know what’s good for you, front office.