Red Sox

Chris Sale admits he's never felt this lost on the mound in his life

Chris Sale admits he's never felt this lost on the mound in his life

BOSTON - Cold weather aside, Tuesday’s Red Sox home opener got off to an encouraging start.

Several notable players from past Red Sox championship teams joined the festivities with trophies in hand, last year’s champs collected their new rings, and the Super Bowl LIII champion Patriots joined for the ceremonial first pitch. Then, ace Chris Sale pitched a 1-2-3 first inning and clocked a 94 mph fastball on the radar gun.

Things went downhill from there.

Sale, who let up seven runs on Opening Day in Seattle and then had a career-low average fastball velocity of 89.1 mph in Oakland, saw his struggles continue in his third start. The left-hander allowed five runs, seven hits, and even a steal of home in only four innings pitched.

With a 9.00 ERA after three outings, Sale was asked after Boston’s 7-5 loss if he’s ever felt this lost on the mound.

“Never in my life,” Sale replied.

That’s an alarming statement from someone who just inked a five-year, $145 million contract prior to the season, and it’s certainly not one that is going to help the Red Sox feel at ease.

Sale didn’t mince words or make excuses after the game. The 30-year-old took full ownership of the loss.

“We’ve got to win that game,” Sale said. “This is very easy to throw on the pile and say we aren’t playing good. This wasn’t us not playing good, this was me sucking today. That’s frustrating because today was the day we were going to turn it around.”

Manager Alex Cora noted Sale’s improvement in velocity from his last start, but called the ace’s off-speed pitches “inconsistent.”

“He wasn’t able to put hitters away,” Cora said. “Velocity was 91, 92. Showed some flashes of 94, 95 at the end. But as far as the off-speed, slider, a little inconsistent … the changeup wasn’t great.

“He didn’t have too many swings and misses, and we paid the price.”

Meanwhile, the Red Sox are 3-9 on the season with sole possession of last place in the American League East. They’ll have a day off on Wednesday, then look to get on the right track Thursday vs. Toronto.

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How Bobby Bonilla Day can save MLB's ongoing salary dispute

How Bobby Bonilla Day can save MLB's ongoing salary dispute

If baseball wants to solve its impasse over player compensation during the pandemic, here's a thought — make Bobby Bonilla Day a holiday.

Bonilla is the former Mets slugger who struck an incredible deal as his career wound to a close.

In exchange for waiving the final $5.9 million he was owed in 2000, Bonilla agreed to receive 25 payments of roughly $1.19 million every July 1 from 2011 through 2035.

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Why trade $6 million in 2000 for nearly $30 million later? Because Mets owner Fred Wilpon intended to invest the money with Bernie Madoff, whose funds consistently delivered massive returns. We now know Madoff was running the world's biggest Ponzi Scheme, and when his $64 billion fraud collapsed in 2008, it took hundreds of millions of Wilpon's money with it.

What's bad for him was good for Bobby Bo, however. Every summer, the six-time All-Star receives a check for over a million dollars, payments that will continue until he's 72. (The Mets, it should be noted, also agreed to make 25 annual $250,000 payments to Bret Saberhagen for similar reasons, starting in 2004.)

Here's where the current contentiousness enters the picture.

The owners want the players to take a massive pay cut in exchange for a season, arguing they can't afford to play in empty ballparks without salary concessions. The players don't want to return a penny, and in fact hope to play more than the proposed 82 games to make as much of their prorated salaries as possible.

One solution is deferrals. The players agree to put off some portion of their earnings, allowing ownership to maintain cash flow in the short term before the game's economics hopefully stabilize in the future.

And what better day to do it than Bobby Bonilla Day? Every July 1 starting next year, the players can receive a portion of their 2020 salary. Maybe it's paid in installments over three to five years, or maybe it's a lump sum.

However it's done, it could represent a meaningful olive branch from the players and a signal that they're willing to compromise in these unprecedented times.

The value for the owners is clear, because Wilpon isn't the only one who sees the allure of deferrals. The World Series champion Nationals prefer them as a rule, deferring not only $105 million of Max Scherzer's $210 million contract, but even $3 million of the $4 million they gave reliever Joe Blanton in 2017.

With players and owners at each other's throats, it could be disarming to invoke one of the game's stranger annual curiosities. And if it helps us play baseball in 2020, there's also this: Open the season on July 1 and make Bobby Bonilla Day, for one year anyway, a national holiday.

Who are the best right fielders in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

Who are the best right fielders in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

Corner outfielders for the Red Sox have vastly different responsibilities. 

While left fielders have to learn how to play with the Green Monster at their backs, right fielders are tasked with covering an immense amount of ground with some quirky angles —duties which require not just a mobile defender, but a fearless one. A strong arm helps, too, lest the turnstiles between first and third just spin all game.

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Fortunately for the Red Sox, there have been no shortage of exceptional right fielders over the years, including a number who didn't make our top five, like Dirt Dog Trot Nixon; postseason heroes J.D. Drew and Shane Victorino; and Earl Webb, whose 67 doubles in 1931 remain one of the longest-standing single-season records in the game.

The final list includes a Hall of Famer, two MVPs, a hometown hero, and one of the franchise's longest tenured stars.

Click here for the Top 5 right fielders in Red Sox history.