Red Sox

Levine: Too much information


Levine: Too much information

By Rich Levine

For the most part, I love technology.

And when I say "for the most part," that's a wide understatement 999 out of 1,000 times, I'm all for technology. Anything that enhances our lives, improves our world. Whatever it is. I'm in.

Why not, right? As I type this, I'm sitting in a random terminal at JFK with a wireless five-pound computer on my lap, which allows me to not only write this column, but also track my fantasy football team, follow the RavensSteelers game, listen to any song I've ever downloaded and watch videos of monkeys doing weird things to frogs . . . all at the same time!

I love technology. I'm completely whipped. I'm Tom. It's Gisele. I'm at its mercy.

But like I said, every once in a while it rubs me the wrong way; really wrong. Like the way Cameron's mom touches Mitchell on Modern Family. And it's times like that when I find myself pining for a time machine hot tub, Delorian, San Dimas telephone booth, anything that can bring me back to a simpler time, when not only the technology, but as a result, we weren't so damn crazy.

It doesn't happen very often, but when it does . . . well, it does.

And it happened this weekend.

Honestly, this Adrian Gonzalez trade should have been one of the happiest moments in recent Red Sox history. Can you think of anything that's happened since the 2007 World Series that tops this? This guy is an absolute superstar. He changes everything, even if the Sox don't make another impact move this winter. Essentially, Theo's bridge is now complete; it's time to get back to business, and this news should have been met with nothing but sheer adulation.

Instead, at least in this very moment, it feels a little dirty. It's not quite as happy. And it's because of technology. It's because of Twitter.

On one hand, I see the benefits of how everything played out. The way this story was reported with second-by-second updates on everything from how many years apart they were to what movie Gonzalez watched on his cross-country flight really makes the fan feel like he or she is a part of the process; it's like you're actually sitting at the negotiating table. The frustration you feel over which prospects the Padres are asking for or how many years Gonzalez is demanding, are the same frustrations that Theo feels. Never before have fans been so in tuned to the details and emotions of these multimillion dollar negotiations.

On paper, that's pretty cool. But if it actually is, then why was Saturday and especially Sunday such a miserable online experience? Why was the constant flow of absolutes the deal is DONE, the trade is OFF, Gonzalez is GONE and the berserk reactions that followed, all day, so unsettling, chaotic and off-putting? How did everything get so out of hand?

I'm still not sure, but at the very least, I hope it can serve as a lesson. And I don't mean that in a finger-wagging way. I was just as bad as anyone. I was riding the emotional roller coaster from the second the trade was announced until the moment it was murdered until the moment there were signs of life and until the moment I got the e-mail about Monday's press conference. I was yelling, and screaming like I was Tito going off on Joe West.

But when I take a second and look back at the day that was, it slows down and makes a little more sense.

It's just negotiation. That's all it is. It's two sides going back and forth. Each wanting to make a deal, but each also wanting to get the best deal they can. Nothing is brief or absolute, even though it's hard to take it any other way when presented in 140-character tweets.

In reality, what we saw Sunday was two parties come to a relative agreement on a multi-year, nine-figure contract in less than 48 hours. That's pretty remarkable. Have you ever tried to make a fantasy trade? Think about how frustrating and unstable those negotiations can be. Hell, in October I spent an entire week intensely negotiating a trade that revolved around Justin Forsett and JerMichael Finley. And it got UGLY. And we expect smooth sailing on a deal that could be worth around 160 mullin? Negotiation is never easy. The two sides never agree on everything at first. But we forgot. We overreacted. Did we think this stuff never happened before Twitter existed? That big-time deals used to be easy?

Of course they weren't. The difference was how quickly that information came out. Twenty years ago, all the same drama would have happened with Gonzalez, and would have eventually been reported, too. But it would have all appeared in Monday morning's paper, under the headline: RED SOX FINALIZE TRADE FOR ADRIAN GONZALEZ. We would have read it with the knowledge that it was already taken care of; that it was old news. It would have been fun and gossipy, but in the end insignificant.

Remember when ESPN did that special on Dan Duquette's courtship of Manny Ramirez? Remember how crazy that was? Can you imagine following that saga on Twitter? The Internet would have imploded. Which is almost what happened with Gonzalez.

The whole thing turned into this giant debate where moderators Heyman, Gammons, McAdam and Rosenthal would throw out a piece of information and then 500,000 people would all scream at the same time. That is, until the most recent piece of information proved false and it was time to move on to the next temporary fact. You had fans threatening never to attend games again. You had a Sox beat writer triumphantly calling his readers nitwits. You had people RTing RTs of RTs about Adrian Gonzalez RTs.

And in the end, it was all for not. It was a waste of energy. A lot.

It made people so mad. It had everyone so stressed. For me, it just took the fun out of a moment that should have been memorable for different reason. Maybe that can still be salvaged with Monday's press conference, although I have a feeling that until that extension is signed, nothing will be sacred.

And, really, I'm not saying it should be.

I understand why it's like this. And I'm not saying that we move away from this kind of coverage, or that the best and brightest baseball minds should put a cap on how much information they divulge or the immediacy with which they divulge it. That's the world we live in right now. I accept that. I think that world brings so many advantages, and provides so many benefits to the fan experience. I wouldn't change it for the world.

This is just one of those rare moments when I want to get away and unfortunately, I'm not flying Southwest.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Red Sox hire Alex Cora as their new manager

Red Sox hire Alex Cora as their new manager

BOSTON -- Alex Cora is the 47th manager in Red Sox history, charged with reinvigorating a young clubhouse and improving on consecutive 93-win seasons that fizzled in the first round of the playoffs.

The team made the hiring of the 42-year-old Astros bench coach official on Sunday, a day after Houston advanced to the World Series and two days before the start of the Fall Classic. Cora will remain with the Astros until the Series is finished.

Cora, a 14-year big leaguer from Puerto Rico, hit .252 in 301 games for the Sox from 2005-08. He was the most sought-after managerial candidate this offseason and arrives with a great reputation based on his personality, his prior experience in Boston and his season with the Astros. 


He knows Sox second baseman and leader Dustin Pedroia well. The last time Cora was in the World Series prior to this year was 2007. On Saturday, exactly 10 years after the Red Sox came back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Indians in the American League Championship Series, the Astros finished off a rally after falling behind 3-2 in the series.

"You know, we've never been through this," Dustin Pedroia said after the Sox won Game 7 in 2007. "This is on the biggest stage. Everyone is watching these games. I remember the Angels series, I was nervous. Alex Cora told me, 'Hey, settle down, be yourself, have fun. This game is meant to be played, have fun. Play as hard as you can and leave it out there on the field. If we lose, we lose. Don't have any regrets.'

"Ever since then I kind of went out there, and I don't worry about anything but playing hard. I think everybody is doing that. Nobody cares about anything, just picking each other up and playing the game to win."

Early on, Cora will have to prove that his inexperience is not a stumbling block for a club in a win-now mindset. This season was Cora's only as a major-league coach. He's the first Sox manager to take the big job without prior major-league managing experience since Grady Little in 2002. 

Cora's ability to bond with players is his hallmark.

"Alex brings a lot to the table," Astros outfielder Carlos Beltran said. "He's a guy that always is looking for information that he could use against the opposite team. And he's also, he provides that information to the player, which is great. He has good communication with the guys, respects the guys. He's always in the clubhouse getting to know the players, getting to know which buttons he could push on each player to make them go out there and play the game hard, which is great.

"I think I always feel that sometimes managers, they draw a very defined line between players and manager. And sometimes they get caught up not going to the clubhouse because they don't want to feel like they're invading their space. But as a player, I love when managers come to the clubhouse, sit down, talk to us, get to know us, ask about our family, about everything. And that really, for me, means a lot. So Alex does that real well."

Cora's hiring comes five years and a day after the Red Sox hired John Farrell. The choice could have been announced prior to Sunday, but the Red Sox were being respectful of the Astros' playoff run. 



Astros beat Yankees, 4-0, in Game 7 to advance to World Series


Astros beat Yankees, 4-0, in Game 7 to advance to World Series

HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve embraced Justin Verlander as confetti rained down. An improbable thought just a few years ago, the Houston Astros are headed to the World Series.

Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. combined on a three-hitter, Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Astros reached the World Series for only the second time by blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Verlander, the ALCS MVP , and fellow Houston ace Dallas Keuchel will have plenty of rest before the World Series begins at sweltering Dodger Stadium.

"I love our personality," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We have the right amount of fun, the right amount of seriousness, the right amount of perspective when we need it. This is a very, very unique group. To win 100 games and still be hungry is pretty remarkable."

The Astros will try for their first World Series title, thanks in large part to Altuve , the diminutive second baseman who swings a potent bat, and Verlander, who switched teams for the first time in his career to chase a ring.

Four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees on consecutive nights after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first crown, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

"This city, they deserve this," McCullers said.

Clutch defensive plays by third baseman Alex Bregman and center fielder George Springer helped Houston improve to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and become the fifth team in major league history to capture a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four. A noted curveballer, McCullers finished up with 24 straight breaking pitches to earn his first major league save.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron JudgeGary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

"I know people are going to talk about how we didn't win many games on the road. There were some other teams that haven't won many games on the road, either. We just happened to run into a very good team that just beat us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

The Astros also eliminated New York in the 2015 postseason, with Keuchel winning the AL wild-card game at Yankee Stadium.

CC Sabathia entered 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double. He snapped an 0-for-20 skid with an RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night in a 7-1 win.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York went 1-6 on the road this postseason.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who lost to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS exactly 13 years earlier.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh.

With McCullers in charge, the Astros soon closed it out.

"It's not easy to get here. And I don't take any of this for granted. And this is what we play for," Verlander said. "These are the experiences that you remember at the end of your career when you look back, winning these games, just playing the World Series. Hopefully winning the World Series."