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My Beautiful Dark Twisted Baseball Season

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My Beautiful Dark Twisted Baseball Season

Back in 2009, Kanye West was in a bad place.

His mother had passed away tragically in 2007. He'd broken up with his fianc in 2008, and then immediately jumped into a high profile and volatile relationship with model Amber Rose. On top of that (as well as the general craziness that comes with being Kanye West) he was working himself to the bone and drinking heavily, which boiled over into a laundry list of public disasters most notably the incident with Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs and a canceled tour with Lady Gaga.

By the end of the year, West had hit rock bottom. He was just about the most dysfunctional celebrity on the planet.

So, what did he do?

He exiled himself to Hawaii and created My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which was released in the fall of 2010 and won Best Rap Album at last year's Grammy Awards.

In retrospect, through reading his words and just listening to the music, you can tell that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was a therapeutic experience for West. Not that it solved all his problems, but it helped him cope, and at the very least, take back a hold of his life.

So, I wondered, if the album was therapeutic for the world's most dysfunctional celebrity, how might it help analyze the world's most dysfunctional baseball team?

Here's the song list (plus links to the actual songs) from MBDTF, with lyrics that tell a story about the Red Sox crazy season.

1. My Dark Fantasy

Beyond the truest, hey, teacher, teacherTell me how do you respond to students?And refresh the page and restart the memory?Re-spark the soul and rebuild the energy?We stopped the ignorance, we killed the enemies
Couldnt be more perfect, because thats what this is all about. Finally turning the page on last season. Making peace with whatever happened in the clubhouse. Accepting the fact that Terry Francona is gone and never coming back. Basically, becoming a new team, building a new identity. And that will only happen if Bobby Valentine finds away to break down the wall and connect with his players.

It looked like there may have been a little progress last night in the ninth. When Valentine went out to visit Alfredo Aceves on the mound, and jokingly asked, Are you trying to kill me? Followed by a chorus of genuine laughs from his team.

It was a bizarre move by Valentine. Can't you imagine him sitting up late the night before in his hotel room and watching Bull Durham on HBO. The candlestick scene comes on and Bobby thinks to himself: You know what? That looks like fun. Maybe well try that tomorrow.

And he did.

And it worked.

Maybe. Truth is we have no clue how Valentines visit affected Aceves, or the outcome of that game. Ill just say it was nice to see him out there in a moment of potential disaster bringing the team together and having a laugh. After the game, it was nice to see him on the field ecstatically greeting his players like a man whod just watched his grandson hit a double in tee ball. Now, if the Sox can just hold onto some of this mental momentum.

Of course, synergy between the manager and his players cant stop all the ignorance and dysfunction in the owners box, but you know what? Screw the owners. At this point, Valentine might as well find a cardboard cut out of Linda Pizzuti and announce: Every time we win, we peel a section! (Or maybe its more motivational to find a cut out of a naked John Henry? Every time we win, we add a section!). The owners may continue to ruin the integrity of Fenway and the Red Sox brand, but from here on out they cant touch the team. Its all about the guys in that clubhouse, and they need to come together.

Last night was a good start.

2. Gorgeous

Not for nothing Ive foreseen it, I dream itI can feel it slowly drifting away from meNo more chances if you blow this, you bogusI will never ever let you live this down, down, down
The biggest myth about Bobby Valentine aside from the one about him parting the Red Sea is that he doesnt care about winning. As if he would even think twice if someone asked him, OK, Bobby. Either we take away The Bobby Valentine Show, your other two paid TV gigs and your two paid radio gigs, or you can win the World Series: Which is it?

Come on. The guy wants to win as much as anyone as much as Terry Francona; as much as Dustin Pedroia.

Theres no question that when Valentine took this job, he had certain visions of what the team would become under his watch. How he would revitalize the clubhouse and rally the players. And obviously, none of that has materialized. Whether thats because Valentine assumed too much about himself, or too little about the mess he was inheriting remains unclear, but despite a few ridiculous suggestions in the media, theres no way hes going to throw in the towel.

This is probably Valentines last chance to manage at the big league level. If things go poorly in Boston, he may never get another job. He may never want another job. His entire legacy as a manager may very well be decided by the events of the next two years.

He wants to win. Believe it or not, even more than he wants to talk to Michael Kay.

3. Power

No one man should have all that powerThe clocks ticking, I just count the hours.
This goes out to Cody Ross and his two dramatic home runs in last night's win (or in the words of Nick Cafardo: His two dramatic jerk outs).

In fact, lets take a second and show some love for a bunch of new faces in the Sox clubhouse. Ross has been solid. Nick Puntos been serviceable. Ryan Sweeneys been out of this world. Kelly Shoppachs won them more games than Adrian Gonzalez. Sort-of-new-guy Mike Aviles has been one of the teams most consistent bats.

Lost in all the bigger problems surrounding the Sox, is that those smaller pieces have fallen into place. The Bellhorns, Millars, Walkers, Kaplers and Mirabellis of this team are starting to reveal themselves, and that will pay dividends down the stretch

As long as the larger pieces get their act together.

After all, you can only get so excited about Cody Ross five homers, when those five are more than the combined total of Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury.

4. All of the Lights

"Turn up the lights in here, babyExtra bright, I want y'all to see thisTurn up the lights in here, babyYou know what I needWant you to see everythingWant you to see all of the lights"
This is for Fenway Sports Group, which could erase a lot of the hatred and anger being thrown in its direction by simply letting us in. By turning on the lights. By becoming transparent. By ceasing to be so cryptic and deceptive about every aspect their business.

As it is now, theres no sincerity in anything they do, and it makes it nearly impossible not to despise everything they stand for. Coming back to Earth and down to everyone's level could go a long way.

If that's not their style or if they have too much to hide they should brace for continued hatred.

Or feel free to sell the team.

5. Monster

I'm living in the future so the present is my past.

It's a shame the Sox can't live in the future, because that will provide a far more realistic view of who they are.

Its easy to forget that theyre currently playing without their closer. Without their should-have-been AL MVP center fielder, lead-off man and all-around catalyst. Without their 19.5 million dollar, super-motivated left fielder. For the most part, without their 21 million dollar, Triple Crown-threat of a first baseman, who apparently hates April as much as he loves God.

Dont get me wrong, the Sox need to do better than they have been. But aside from everything else, they're dealing with some serious injuries right now, and if they can just tread water and stay within striking distance until Crawford and Ellsbury are back, and Gonzalez wakes up from his April nap, this lineup could turn into a monster.

6. So Appalled

"One hand in the air if you don't really careTwo hands in the air if you don't really careIt's like that sometimes, I mean ridiculousIt's like that sometimes, this lifes ridiculous"
Unbelievable how that Daniel Bard situation played out last night. Of course, even in victory, the one thing that could have happened to create more controversy did. Bard succeeded in the bullpen. He entered the game in a HUGE situation, got the job done and bridged the gap to Aceves. Naturally, this will just fuel the firestorm surrounding a potential return to the bullpen and shine a spotlight on one very important piece of information: Bard still wants to start.

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there today screaming about Bard's comments. About how he's a punk for not wanting to join the pen, and just another example of the spoiled brat Sox that are poisoning this team and ruining baseball as we know it.

But I don't mind what Bard said. So, he doesn't want re-join the bullpen? Do you blame him?

The guy just wants some stability. At the end of the day, if they move him to the pen, I'm sure he'll move to the pen, and do everything he can to help the team. But who says he has to be happy about it? Put yourself in his cleats: Wouldn't you rather stay on the path as a starter which he's been prepping for this entire offseason and line yourself up for a better pay day in free agency, or do a complete U-turn and return to your life as a set up man andor a stop gap closer?

It's a no-brainer.

7. Devil in a New Dress

None of the lyrics in this song are "appropriate" enough to relate to the Sox, but the title is a spot on description of Larry Lucchino's costume from last Halloween.

8. Runaway

I'm so gifted at finding what I don't like the mostSo I think it's time for us to have a toastLet's have a toast for the d-----bagsLet's have a toast for the a--holesLet's have a toast for the scumbagsEvery one of them that I know
The 2004 Sox didnt click until they embraced their own shortcomings and drank to their inner Idiots. They then rode that persona to their first title in 86 years.

The 2012 Sox are still looking for their identity, and Kanye offer a few good suggestions here.

Just kidding.

Kind of.

9. Hell of a Life

This is the second of two songs on the album that I'm not going to relate to the Sox, given that the whole thing is about Kanye's relationship with a porn star. But to make up for it, I did track down a photo of the porn star the he's rapping about.

10. Blame Game

"Now who to blame, you to blame, me to blameFor the pain and it poured every time when it rainedLets play the blame game."
The media blame game is pointless. Whose fault is it? Who's reeeeeally to blame?

It's easy. Its everyones fault. And screaming about it in circles does nothing to solve the problem.

Bobby Valentine hasnt found away to connect. The players haven't exactly been open to connection and haven't gotten the job done on the field. The owners are still the useless owners.

This is not an individual, "This is all your fault!" problem. Its a team problem. One that will only be resolved within those clubhouse walls, and only after they can only string together a few good wins. And with their next 21 games coming against the Twins, White Sox, A's, Mariners and Orioles, the time is now.

11. Lost in the World

"Your my Devil, Your my Angel
Your my Heaven, Your my Hell
Your my Now, Your my Forever
Your my Freedom, Your my Jail
Your my Lies, Your my Truth
Your my War, Your my Truce
Your my Questions, Your my Proof
Your my Stress and your my Masseuse"
It's called Red Sox.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

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Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game. 

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

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

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."

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