Red Sox

Best of the Decade: Red Sox All-Interview Team

Best of the Decade: Red Sox All-Interview Team

Since we're Top Ten-ing everything else related to the decade, allow me one small measure of self-indulgence -- my All-Interview Team.

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Not everyone on this list was/is a great quote, per se, but they're guys I liked talking to for various reasons, and who doesn't enjoy the occasional peek behind the curtain? Also, No. 1 on my list is 1,000 percent real, I swear.

1. J.D. Drew

I know what you're thinking, but I'm telling you, no player had a better handle on baseball's relative insignificance. Drew played because it made him rich (he's notoriously cheap) and he was really good at it, but he never wanted it to define him. A folksy conversationalist, he was also sneaky funny, like the time he hopped up the dugout steps to boos during BP in Philly, proclaimed, "This is MY house," and then went 4-for-5 with a three-run homer.

2. David Ortiz

Big Papi will end up topping a lot of best-of lists in the next couple of weeks, and for good reason. But beyond providing countless moments of drama, he was a hell of a colorful interview, speaking unfiltered and from the heart, even when it might've behooved him to go the diplomatic route. He'd get ripped for bitching about his contract or a lost RBI, but what reporter would complain about that? He made great copy, and when he held court, his blue streak would make Lenny Bruce blush.

3. Jonny Gomes

Critics ripped him for being a self-promoter, and while I wouldn't totally absolve him of that charge, his impact on the 2013 clubhouse was real. The most impressive part of talking to Gomes was just how closely he paid attention to the rest of baseball. Some guys can't tell you what's happening outside their clubhouse door, but Gomes knew everything about everyone in the AL and NL, and he'd talk baseball with anybody.

4. Xander Bogaerts

For someone who won his first World Series just a couple of weeks after turning 21 and recently signed a nine-figure contract, Bogaerts has remained remarkably humble and grounded. He spent his early seasons in the background, ceding state-of-the-team responsibilities to veterans Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. But now that he's entering his eighth (!?!) season, he recognizes the need to be a spokesman, especially when things are going poorly, and he's as accountable as they get.

5. Daniel Bard

When Bard's career went south in 2012 following a failed move to the rotation, no one was secretly more disappointed than the beat writers. Bard was always a thoughtful quote, with a keen intelligence befitting his lineage -- his grandfather coached at MIT for years -- and a willingness to offer insight. Some believe that intelligence worked against him, causing him to overanalyze his mental woes, and we'll never know how his career would've turned out if he had remained in the bullpen.

6. Carl Crawford

While there's no question Crawford disappointed on the field, it wasn't for lack of effort, and those of us who were around him every day could see the toll all that failure took on him personally. Extremely popular among teammates -- most of whom he greeted with, "Wassup, big man?" -- Crawford was honest to a fault with the media, even when the questions were relentlessly negative. He may not have been worth $142 million, but he was no villain.

7. Clay Buchholz

A truth about reporters: sometimes we only reluctantly ask the toughest questions, because we know our subjects will get their backs up and then we have to steel for a fight. Then there's Buchholz. You could ask him the most pointed question about why he was terrible and everyone hated him, and he'd answer without rancor because it's just how he's wired. He just shrugged and took nothing personally, which is a gift.

8. Jackie Bradley Jr.

After the birth of his first child, Bradley was leaving Fenway Park when a couple of reporters held the door for him and wished him a Happy Father's Day. Bradley turned around, confirmed they had kids as well, and said, "then Happy Father's Day to you, too." In an industry where narcissism is practically required, Bradley manages to treat people with respect instead of contempt.

9. Burke Badenhop

Here's to the nerds! Badenhop was unapologetically wonky and one of the first players to embrace advanced analytics in pursuit of self-improvement. A business major at Bowling Green, he had landed a coveted job at pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline in 2005 before baseball came calling. The son of an English professor and contributor to a book on finance for young college grads, he considered writing for "Saturday Night Live" his dream job.

10. Kevin Youkilis

Youkilis could be confrontational. He constantly railed against negativity. He once yelled at me for calling him the Greek God of Walks, because, "you know I hate that name." Despite all that, I enjoyed interacting with him, because deep down, he was still just the kid from Cincinnati rooting on the Bengals from the nosebleeds, and even after he signed a $40 million contract, that everyman regular guy remained a part of him.

 


 

Pedro Martinez hopes MLB owners, players can think about fans and compromise

Pedro Martinez hopes MLB owners, players can think about fans and compromise

The NHL has announced a return-to-play strategy. The NBA could announce its plan as soon as Thursday after a Board of Governors vote.

And then there's Major League Baseball.

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MLB's first proposal was quickly shot down by the Players' Association, which submitted its own plan over the weekend. That's also expected to be immediately dismissed. And as the days tick by, the hopes for a 2020 season get dimmer. While there's still time to salvage a season, the lack of productive dialogue between the league and the MLBPA is getting discouraging.

Speaking on NBC Sports Network's "Lunch Talk Live" on Monday afternoon, Pedro Martinez voiced his frustration with the stalemate.

"I'm hoping that both sides actually stop thinking about their own good and start thinking about the fans," Martinez said. "I think this is a perfect time to have their baseball teams out there and try to have the people forget a little bit about what's going on. It's not only the pandemic, it's everything that's going on. People need something to actually do and find a way to relax. I hope that the Players' Association and MLB realize how important it is to bring some sort of relief to people."

Martinez is spot-on with the sentiment that sports returning would be a welcome respite from the news right now. But getting players back on the field is proving to be complicated, especially as the sides navigate the financials of a shorter season without revenue from tickets.

"The economics is the dark part of baseball. The business part of baseball is dirty. It's dark," Martinez told Tirico. "And I hope that they take into consideration who pays our salaries, what the people do for us, how important the people are, and forget about or at least bend your arm a little bit to find a middle ground for the negotiations.

Let's not be selfish about it. Let's think about the fans, let's think about the families that are home that want to at least watch a baseball game and distract themselves from all the things that are going on.

Ongoing disputes over money are reflecting horribly on the sport, and cancelling the entire 2020 season could do irreperable harm to a sport that has seen its popularity ebb in recent years.

Fans can only hope that the sides take Pedro's advice, and find some common ground — and do it quickly. 

Relive Manny Ramirez's greatest moments on Red Sox legend's 48th birthday

Relive Manny Ramirez's greatest moments on Red Sox legend's 48th birthday

One of the most entertaining players ever to don a Boston Red Sox uniform was born 48 years ago today.

That would be Manny Ramirez, who celebrates his birthday on May 30. In honor of the special occasion, Major League Baseball tweeted an awesome video that includes some of Ramirez's greatest moments:

Watch below:

That cutoff of Johnny Damon's throw never gets old.

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Ramirez joined the Red Sox in 2001 after spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Cleveland Indians. From there, he became a key contributor to two World Series titles (2004 and 2007) and furthered his legacy as one of the best right-handed hitters of all time.

He isn't done yet, either. Ramirez announced just a couple of months ago he is hoping to find a roster spot in Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League. More "Manny Being Manny"? That sounds great to us.

We wish a very happy birthday to one of the greatest (and most interesting) players in Red Sox history.