Red Sox

Baseball should never limit innings in the postseason

Baseball should never limit innings in the postseason

LOS ANGELES — Nate Eovaldi does not become an October legend, does not come away as the soft-spoken, triple-digit throwing phantasm who apparently feels no fatigue, if a home run derby decides the game after 14 innings. Eduardo Nunez’s trips, falls and tumbles are not laughed about — once everyone realizes he’s able to continue, of course — if a runner is on second base to begin every frame after the ninth inning.

“When the catcher ran over him, he felt he was in bad shape,” Alex Cora said. “But like I told him, he's like, ‘I'm not coming out.’ I said, ‘Well, you can't come out. We have no more players.’”

That was a choice.

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Fans are in bed earlier if the skills contest begins in the 10th. But a game artificially pushed to an ending will never stick out as one of the wildest nights in baseball history. Not in a way something so bizarre as Game 3 did. An error led to a run in both the top and bottom of the 13th? Wacky gold, even if you were asleep. The conversation endures today and may for many days: how much do you blame Kinsler? No, not him, the offense!

The longest game in postseason history, as measured both by innings (18) and time (7 hours, 20 minutes), is not further proof that the league needs to destroy the possibility of such games altogether. It’s validation of a set-up that forces managers and front offices to make choices for both the present and the future. Enjoyment exists in the unknown of baseball’s unrestricted format, even as it has become easy to mock the lyric, “I don’t care if I never get back.”

Pace-of-play tweaks and other rule changes are needed. To say baseball is too slow is to state the obvious. But there need not be a change to how long a game can actually continue. Even then, a discussion about October games and the regular season should be held differently.

These nights are rare. Eliminating them amounts to a blip on the radar.

Baseball’s staunch re-entry rules indeed mean stars leave permanently night to night — an artificial barrier between the fans and a star player. But the sense of strategy in baseball is centered on taking a shot at an appropriate time. What’s the worst that happens? A no-name player gets a moment in the sun, furthering baseball as the egalitarian sport.

One can wonder whether, for health reasons, it was wisest to ask Eovaldi to throw 97 pitches after he had already given perfect innings in both Games 1 and 2. But that's a question for the Sox, not the format. Everything, from the roster to its usage, was in the team's control. 

As a two-time Tommy John surgery recipient, Eovaldi is not a low-risk pitcher. Drew Pomeranz didn’t throw a pitch in the game. Eduardo Rodriguez threw six - that's pitches, not innings. Riding Eovaldi was a choice, one that produced an experience that Rick Porcello said actually moved him to tears: six-plus innings of work and just one earned run, Max Muncy’s opposite-field walk-off shot.

"I actually, after the game was over I started crying because that was — I mean, he's grinding. Every pitch,” Porcello said. “He literally gave everything he had on every single pitch, and it was special. It was a lot of fun to watch. That's the epitome of reaching down deep and I don't know. I'm really proud of him. I'm proud of the way our guys battled tonight. We came up one run short. So be it. We'll be back tomorrow.”

Both teams’ rosters are stretched and tired. Game 3 will have effects far beyond Friday night and Saturday morning. If baseball ever sought to limit the length of a game, it would be tapering the conversation around those moves needlessly. 

Cora chose to go all-in, Dave Roberts chose to be more conservative. Let such positions continue to be taken. Games move too slowly. Friday night-into-Saturday morning was an anomaly of weirdness to be appreciated, not a new call to sweeping action.

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Yankees GM Brian Cashman holds high opinion of Red Sox executive Chaim Bloom

chaim_bloom.jpg
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Yankees GM Brian Cashman holds high opinion of Red Sox executive Chaim Bloom

If you're an MLB general manager looking for an endorsement, there are few that you'd rather get it from than long-time New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman.

Cashman, who has been the Yankees' GM since 1998, is one of the longest-tenured GM's in baseball. Only Oakland Athletics Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane, hired in 1997, has been around longer than him. And during Cashman's tenure, the Yankees have won four World Series titles and have made the playoffs 18 times.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox have won also four World Series titles during that span, but they've gone through six different GMs/heads of baseball operations. Their latest hire was made this offseason when they lured Chaim Bloom away from the Tampa Bay Rays. And the man running the Yankees is a fan of Bloom's and thinks that he will run the Red Sox well.

"I think Chaim Bloom is going to be a fantastic general manager," Cashman said, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. "From my interactions with him, he’s got intellect. He’s got personality. He’s got empathy. I just feel like all of those attributes are going to serve him extremely well as he navigates running a big-market operation, one of the best franchises in the industry."

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That's some seriously high praise considering how well Cashman has guided the Yankees over the course of the past 22 years. Perhaps Bloom, 37, will have a chance to turn into a long-term staple of the Red Sox front office if he can live up to that potential.

So far, Bloom's tenure in Boston has been a rocky one. He had to deal with the fallout from Alex Cora's involvement in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal and also made the decision to trade Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Feb. 10.

The latter move may ultimately work out, especially considering that the team may not have been able to deal Betts amid the coronavirus pandemic with all MLB actions now frozen. But it was still a tough pill for some Sox fans to swallow considering Betts' talent compared to the lack of talent the team brought in during free agency.

At the end of the day though, it's still far too early to judge Bloom's moves. And he did get a solid haul in the revised edition of the Betts deal. If Cashman has confidence in him, that should be a good sign for the Red Sox and perhaps Bloom will bring stability to the team's front office for the first time in quite a while.

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers admits he still experiences anxiety before games

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers admits he still experiences anxiety before games

Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers doesn't always have the easiest time preparing for games. 

After a breakout season in 2019 (.311, 32 homers, 115 RBI, .916 OPS), the 23-year-old has turned into one of Boston's best at the plate, but that doesn't mean he doesn't experience anxiety. 

The Boston Herald's Jason Mastrodonato sat down with Devers for an interview before the MLB postponed its season due to the coronavirus, and Devers indicated that he still feels a rush before games begin.

“The hardest thing I still go through is every game I still get this anxiousness of the game starting," Devers said, according to Mastrodonato. "It’s this happiness of being out there and being on the field and playing and getting over that anxiety. I’m just over-emotional about the opportunity and being out there playing.

“Because it’s not like a nervous thing, it’s more of an excited thing. That first inning is a big rush. But after that first inning settles, I get an at-bat and it’s like, alright, the game kind of settles. It’s just me being overly emotional about how happy I am.”

“It’s something I’ve been working on since I’ve been here. I’ve been working with previous people in the organization that led me to some of my breathing techniques that I do now. But it’s all about controlling myself. I know it. It’s still there and I’m still working on it. But I have gotten much better at it.”

Of course, you can tell that Devers can't wait to take the field -- he lights up like a kid on Christmas -- but you'd never know truly how emotional he gets. 

In three seasons with the Red Sox, Devers has hit .282 with 211 RBI, 63 home runs and a 5.8 WAR. Based on his 2019 stats, those pregame jitters must've been a little easier to deal with last season. 

Whatever's in store for the Red Sox in 2020, and whenever the baseball season begins, we should expect some big things from Devers in his fourth season.