Red Sox

Sox playing survivor

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Sox playing survivor

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

On Wednesday night, as the Sox kicked off the second game of their doubleheader with Seattle, The Comeback was playing on another channel.

If you're not familiar, The Comeback is easily one of the Top-5 Seinfeld shows of all time; one of those shows that you probably remember as being two or three individual episodes.

It has George and the Jerk Store, Jerry playing tennis with Milos, and Elaine falling in love with Vincent the video store clerk.

For the purpose of this column, it's also the episode where Kramer watches a movie called The Other Side of Darkness and becomes obsessed with comas. In the process, he decides that he'd rather die than ever be in a coma himself, and wants Elaine to be in charge of pulling the plug. Just in case.

"Yeah, because you're perfect," he tells her. "You're a calculating, cold-hearted businesswoman. And when there's dirty work to be done, you don't mind stomping on a few throats."

This comes after Kramer has already offered that job to Jerry, but backs out because he's not confident that Jerry would actually go through with.

"You can't let go!" Kramer screams, before doing something funny.

Anyway, I'm on my couch Wednesday night, watching this unfold in between innings, and two things are on my mind.

1. Nice, this is one of the "Hot Elaine" episodes!
2. Man, when it comes to the 2010 Red Sox, I'm just like Jerry I can't let go.

No. 1 needs no explanation, so I'll just do my best on No. 2.

Basically, I've had this team on life support since August 1.

At the time, they'd just closed July in a 10-13 funk that transformed their 1 12-game wild card-lead into a 5 12-game deficit. They were still dealing with substantial injuries. On top of that, the trade deadline had passed and the Sox were about as active as a hungover snail. They weren't playing well. The organization didn't seem very concerned with getting better. Not to mention, the Yanks and Rays were looking stronger every day!

At this point, I'd seen enough teams with "it" and the 2010 Sox didn't fit that mold. The next night, they lost at home to the Indians, and lost Kevin Youkilis for the season. I had the plug in my grasps, and was ready to yank it like I was starting a mower.

But something in me couldn't let go yet, and hasn't been able to since.

At first I thought, "OK, let's give them until the end of that four-game series in New York. If they don't take three games, then they're through."

When they only won two, I thought, "But, hey, now Pedroia's coming back! If anyone can turn this around, Pedey can! Let's see if they can go on a little run with him in the lineup, and if not, they're through."

When Pedroia lasted only two games, I thought, "Well, they can still beat up on the Angels, Jays and Mariners, and then they go to Tampa for three and then . . . who knows?"

I feel stupid already. Am I seriously still wondering whether they can put this all together? How long will I let this drag on for? Where's Elaine Benes when you need her?

But while we've had ample reason to write the Sox off as dead at many points over this last month, the truth is that they've yet to actually die. For 24 games in August, we've felt like they were about to roll over; to pack it in, and allow us to move on. But these guys are like that cow in Me, Myself and Irene.

The strange thing is that they're not even getting better. They're just not getting worse. I mean, has there ever been a point where they've actually turned us into believers? No, they've just consistently done enough to remind us that they still have a pulse. Enough to keep us interested and watching; enough to make us write things like, "and then they go to Tampa for three and then . . . who knows?"

Really, it feels silly. This is a team that is without their Nos. 1, 2 and 4 hitters from Opening Day, plus their starting center fielder. They're 5 12 games behind the best two teams in baseball. How does any of that add up?

Again, it doesn't. It hasn't for a while. But somehow we're still here, sitting and wondering, "What if they sweep this weekend? What if Lackey, Lester, Buchholz and Lester all put it together? What if Papi and V-Mart find a groove? What if Lowell pulls a Rasheed Wallace and gives them a month of magic before riding off into retirement?

What if . . . what if . . . what if . . .

For all the what-ifs, there's one thing I do know for sure: Without a sweep this weekend, the Sox are through.

(Then again, they do still have six games left against the Yankees . . . )

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

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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