Red Sox

Why Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke 'really liked' fake crowd noise at Fenway Park

Why Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke 'really liked' fake crowd noise at Fenway Park

The Boston Red Sox experimented with fake crowd noise during Friday's intersquad scrimmage at Fenway Park, offering a preview of what the gameday experience might sound and look like once the 2020 MLB season gets underway.

The system is far from perfect and will continue to be tweaked, but so far, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke is a huge fan.

"I liked it a lot," Roenicke told reporters Friday. "Some real noise that will get better with the timing of it. But I think even the noise with nothing going on is really good. So they're experimenting with the loudness of it, what the natural crowd would sound like early in the game and what it would be when things are tied and there's excitement in it.

"I thought it was great. I think the players all liked it. At times it was a little loud, and they were experimenting with that. The players said it was a little harder to talk to each other on the field. But as soon as they dropped it back down, it was in a place that was good. I think it's going to create a lot of energy, so I really liked it."

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A totally silent stadium atmosphere would allow teams to hear what the opponents were saying and make strategy tougher, so Roenicke likes that his players and staff can communicate without the entire conversation being heard by everyone in the area.

"It's nice on our part to be able to have conversations and not have the other side hear it," Roenicke said. "And at times it's nice for us to make comments and not have the players hear what you're saying. If we're discussing, maybe, taking a starting pitcher out of a game. There's sometimes comments you make that you'd rather the players not hear that, so it's a benefit to have that noise there. And I've also noticed with these masks on, I don't have to cover my mouth when I'm talking at times, worried about the camera being on me, so that's a real good thing."

One thing the league will try to accomplish is making the crowd noise work for both teams. A scenario where only the home team benefits isn't going to work.

"It will vary from ballpark to ballpark," Roenicke explained. "I'm sure (the league) will have somebody here -- I guess I could say policing it -- making sure, for one, that it's fair for both sides. I'm sure we won't try to get carried away with the things we do. We were discussing it today, Tom Werner was out here, and we were making sure -- it can't all be just positive noise just for the home team. There has to be some kind of noise for the visiting side or when things go bad on our side, because really what happens is the crowd doesn't make a noise whether it's good or bad.

"So trying to make sure we don't do anything that's so one-sided that it's ridiculous, and no one wants it that way. I think that's got to be policed around the league. But everybody's got the opportunity to change those noises and get it to a place where they think it's going to help their team."

The fake crowd noise might be needed for the entire season. Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker recently announced that the state's pro sports team can begin hosting games but without fans. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said late last month that he's "hopeful" fans will be able to attend games at Fenway Park this season, but he's not sure if it will happen at all. 

Mookie Betts is dominating with Dodgers, but trading him remains the right call

Mookie Betts is dominating with Dodgers, but trading him remains the right call

There are many reasons to rip the Red Sox, whom I described as a maggoty dumpster fire as recently as Friday.

Trading Mookie Betts isn't one of them.

The former and probably future MVP made history with the Dodgers on Thursday night, delivering the sixth three-homer game of his career and his first outside of Baltimore. (That's a joke, but man, did he murder the Orioles).

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With the Red Sox slip-sliding their way to oblivion, the juxtaposition of Betts' monster night with their own demoralizing 17-8 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays was hard to miss, but easy to mischaracterize.

In the short term, oh my God, what a horrific deal. Betts is going to win a World Series and the Red Sox are going down the toilet like a leg-twitching beetle. But in the long-term, the franchise will be better served by moving on from its homegrown star, because Betts' window of dominance did not remotely fit Boston's window of contention. 

Perhaps it's just my small-c fiscal conservatism talking, but I am philosophically opposed to 12-year contracts, no matter how talented the player. You're buying more decline years than prime ones, especially in an era when fewer and fewer players maintain production into their 30s, let alone players of Betts' profile.

Five-tool star Grady Sizemore saw his ascension halted at 25. Former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen delivered his last monster season at 28 and his last really good one at 30. Ask the Yankees how they feel about paying Jacoby Ellsbury.

Betts is a generational talent, but he's only 5-foot-9. As we noted over the winter, players that size simply aren't built to last, and if that sounds like some cold-blooded actuary bleep, so be it.

Since 1947, only seven players 5-foot-9 or shorter have compiled a career WAR of 50 or higher (compared to 125 for those 5-foot-10 or taller). Two were catchers (Yogi Berra, Pudge Rodriguez), one was a defensive whiz who couldn't hit a lick (Luis Aparicio), and you tell me what to make of the other four.

Hall of Famer Joe Morgan remained an elite player until age 32, when he won his second MVP Award. He hit .254 over the final eight years of his career. Fellow Hall of Famer Tim Raines made his final All-Star team at 27 and topped 3.5 WAR just twice after age 30. We are already intimately familiar with the career trajectory of Dustin Pedroia.

That leaves Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett, a 5-foot-8 bowling ball who remained a force through his age-35 season before a tragic eye injury ended his career.

Betts is a unique athlete, so maybe he'll break that mold, but I don't blame the Red Sox for deciding not to take the risk. Were they stacked with the kind of talent that could contend right now, and blessed with a deep farm system to augment some of their higher salaries, then I would've made a case for retaining Betts anyway to capitalize on the 27-year-old's prime.

But let's be realistic about this window. There's a reason John Henry and Co. replaced the win-now Dave Dombrowski with the win-someday Chaim Bloom. They saw the team for what it was, married to bad contracts like the oft-injured Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Sale.

They were lucky to get out from under half of David Price's remaining bloat, but now they face the prospect of retooling pretty much every position except catcher (Christian Vazquez), third base (Rafael Devers), shortstop (Xander Bogaerts) and right field (Alex Verdugo). Do I even need to ask what difference Betts would've made on this train wreck?

Assuming Sale returns from Tommy John and Eduardo Rodriguez beats myocarditis, the Red Sox still are woefully inadequate in the pitching department, and after years of being strip-mined by Dombrowski, the once-prized farm system is beginning a long road back to viability.

Trading Betts makes clear their path forward. It provides the financial flexibility to attack multiple deficiencies, because no team boasts a limitless budget, not even Boston. Paying Betts $35 million annually to begin declining just as the Red Sox climbing back into contention would be bad business.

In the meantime, hammer away. Crushing the Red Sox is its own cathartic sport (I've got my varsity letter), and there will undoubtedly be more nights when the Red Sox fall on their face while Betts soars 3,000 miles away.

That doesn't change the calculus that made him a bad long-term investment for Boston, which is why I firmly believe we will eventually look back at his departure as the right call.

Ex-Red Sox star Mookie Betts has three-home run game for Dodgers

Ex-Red Sox star Mookie Betts has three-home run game for Dodgers

On the same night that the Boston Red Sox fell 17-8 to the Tampa Bay Rays and saw their losing streak extended to four games, their ex-star outfielder Mookie Betts made history with his new team.

Betts was simply on another level for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, crushing not one...

Not two...

But three home runs vs. the San Diego Padres to tie the MLB record for the most three-home run games ever (six).


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The 2018 American League MVP is still doing MVP things, much to the chagrin of Red Sox fans. It certainly doesn't help matters that it's been a disastrous 2020 campaign for Boston, which fell to 6-13 on the season after Thursday's loss.

For a look back at Betts' five 3-home run games with the Red Sox, you can take a trip down memory lane here.