Red Sox

First Pitch: Friday, September 2

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First Pitch: Friday, September 2

By ArtMartone
CSNNE.com

Welcome to First Pitch, aquick spin around the world of Major League Baseball . . . or at leastthe corner of it that most concerns the Red Sox. For a complete wrapupof Thursday's action, check out Craig Calcaterra's AndThatHappened(hardballtalk.nbcsports.com).

'IT'S NOT BASEBALL': You're on the Mark, Teixeira. (New York Times)

Let's give the Yankee first baseman the floor for just a little longer:

"If I was a fan, why would I want to come watch people sitting aroundand talking back and forth, going to the mound, 2-0 sliders in thedirt? Four-hour games cant be fun for a fan, either."

There's a Tex message that baseball really ought to listen to.

The Red Sox and the Yankees did it again last night, a coma-inducing 4-hour-and-26-minute torturefest that featured more than 300 pitches, an umpire who refused to call strikes on borderline deliveries (until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth Boston Herald), pitching changes, trips to the mound, you name it . . . everything except crisp, exciting baseball, the sort of thing that made us all fall in love with the game in the first place. To put it in perspective: The Patriots and Giants, playing a typical three-hour NFL game in Foxboro on the same night, started 20 minutes after the Sox and Yanks and finished an hour earlier.

And the final score was 4-2. It wasn't like there were tons of runs and loads of runners, the sorts of things that you'd expect (and accept) when a ballgame lasts that long. Tim Britton of the Providence Journal provides a great breakdown as to why it all went as long as it did . . . and very little had anything to do with things that make a baseball game exciting or suspenseful or dramatic.

David Schoenfield of ESPN -- while acknowledging that he's not looking forward to Sox-Yanks playoff games ending around 12:30 or 1 a.m. EDT -- thinks "the hand-wringing about baseball's pace is mostly a bunch of nonsense" and warns that if they meet in the postseason, the "baseball haters will no doubt come out in full force". Sorry, David. I love baseball as much as anybody, but Teixeira is right. This isn't baseball. No 4-2, nine-inning game should last 4 12 hours.

In the end, this can't be good for the sport. It can't be. Because no one except the most diehard of diehard fans is going to sit and watch "people sitting aroundand talking back and forth, going to the mound, 2-0 sliders in thedirt" on a consistent basis.

Believe me. I'm the most diehard of diehard fans. And I'm about at my limit.

AGREED: Old friend Craig Calcaterra is singing the same tune, even though he doesn't seem to be as fed up as me. (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)

HERE'S THE REAL PROBLEM: The strategies that drag out the game? They work. (New York Daily News) It was one of the reasons the Yankees beat the Sox last night. (si.com)

OH, YEAH, THE GAME: The Yankees prevailed, 4-2, on a night when Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard, two of the Red Sox' most consistent relievers, failed them. (Both stories csnne.com) The Yanks, who got a rare good outing from A.J. Burnett, were happy about the whole thing (New York Daily News), especially since it pulled them within a half-game of the Red Sox in the A.L. East.

WITH THE GOOD COMES THE BAD: The Yankees may be without Teixeira for a bit, after he took an Aceves pitch off the knee. (New York Daily News)

IS THERE ANY OTHER GAME HE PLAYS? J.D. Drew says his injured finger is forcing him to play "the waiting game". (csnne.com)

WAIT'S ALMOST OVER: Cbssports.com's Evan Brunell looks at some players for whom September could be their career swan songs, and Drew (not to mention Tim Wakefield) makes the list.

PUT ME IN, COACH: Yes, that was Phil Mickelson taking batting practice at Fenway. (csnne.com) And as you can see by the video, he's not too bad.

I GIVE UP: Big Bad Baseball's Don Malcolm can't decide between Jose Bautista, Adrian Gonzalez and Curtis Granderson for American League MVP, so he suggests splitting the award three ways and being done with it.

PHEW! The Red Sox will miss C.J. Wilson this weekend. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE WEIRD TURN PRO: Just when you thought the saga of the Dodgers couldn't get any stranger, the Chinese government comes along and reportedly offers cash-strapped Frank McCourt 1.2 billion for the team. (Los Angeles Times)

MY BAD: And here I thought the ownership squabble in Los Angeles had already been settled. (hbo.com)

FAMILY AFFAIRS: Chris Johnson, son of Red Sox first base coach Ron Johnson, is back with the Astros (Houston Chronicle) . . . Andrew Romine, son of ex-Red Sox outfielder Kevin Romine, has been called up by the Angels. (mlb.com)

OLD FRIENDS: Hanley Ramirez is considering shoulder surgery (Miami Herald) . . . Dustin Richardson (remember him?) has been outrighted to Triple-A by the Braves. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

AND FINALLY . . . Funny, but "Stop bullying me!" isn't one of the top five things I'd expect to come out of Keith Hernandez' mouth. (Yahoo!)

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

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MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

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Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.

Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.

Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.

The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.

Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.

Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.

Not that he wasn't thrilled.

"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.

Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.

"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."

Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.

"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."

Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.

Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.

The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per baseball-reference.com.

Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.

"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.

Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.

The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.

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