A Rant. (And the Worcester Tornadoes Opener)

Eddie Riley and Bob Ojeda
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Throughout this column you will see pictures on the left and right. These are from Monday, June 6th, 2004 when the Worcester Tornadoes played professional ball in Worcester for the first time in 71 years. A former member of the major leagues (that’s right folks, Worcester was a major league team way back when until they folded Worcester and Troy so they could open teams in Philadelphia and another big city) Worcester is now part of the Can-Am league. Rich Gedman, former Red Sox, is the manager, as well as former Sox Bob Ojeda as pitching coach. Ojeda was excellent for the Red Sox before being traded to the Mets after 1985. Ojeda had a brilliant 1986 campaign to win the World Series against you-know-who. Oil Can Boyd was also in attendance as a member of the Broxton Rox, and I thought I saw him in the dugout. As you can see, I’m not too sure it was him.

Fitton Field as O. Pena Bats
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The game was okay. It was above high-school talent to be sure, but it’s hard to get excited about these players. They are 1) not that young, so they’re not future Red Sox players and 2) not that good, otherwise they would be in the minor leagues. Some are ex-minor leagues, and catcher Valera is the only one with MLB experience, getting a cup of coffee with the Expos. Basically, this team is comprised of 1) players who used to be minor leaguers or major leaguers who aren’t that good, and 2) players who have never played in the minors. So the level of competition plus the novelty is not that engaging. But it’s a nice affordable time out to watch some baseball.
Eddie Riley started for the Tornadoes, a local Worcester boy, popular around here, who got as high as AAA for the Red Sox, but just couldn’t get to the major leagues. He is pitching professionally for the first time in 5 years. For Worcester. A nice story.
By the way, the Tornadoes won, 8-3.

Fitton Field
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Anyways, I want to rant about two things today. Pedro Martinez and the Boston Red Sox. Now, Pedro Martinez is having an excellent season for the New York Mets. Pedro Martinez is 7-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a 104/13 K/BB ratio. His WHIP is a miniscule 0.67, and he is for sure enjoying his first season in New York as a member of the Mets, as the Mets are 31-27 (same record as the Red Sox) and tied for second place, one back of the Nationals. I’ve been hearing a lot of ‘Oh, why not have Pedro’ rumbling around the NON-RED SOX sphere lately. Most Red Sox fans don’t really pine for Pedro back. Well, let me correct that. We DO pine for Pedro, but we know it just wouldn’t work out. Even disregarding that Matt Clement is doing a fine Pedro imitation at 6-1, Pedro is irreplaceable. His career was NOT over after last year, he still “only” had a 3.90 ERA. It just wasn’t Pedro-esque. Now, Pedro could definitely have helped us this year and with him I’m sure we’re not all doom and gloom.

Rich Gedman, manager
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But you see, Pedro had to go. I love Pedro, don’t get me wrong, but there’s no denying that Pedro had an ego to him and kind of put strains on the clubhouse. In addition, Pedro was signed for four years at a $13.25 annual salary each year under the salary cap rules. Four more years at $13.25 each year? No thanks. This year it’s pretty feasible, you could justify a second year though, but that third gets dicey, and the fourth? Forget it. When we are in the fourth year, 2008, I’ll guarantee you the fans won’t be slamming the Red Sox anymore for passing on Pedro Martinez.
Look. We know Pedro Martinez is good. WE HAD HIM. We had him for so long he will go into the Hall of Fame wearing a Red Sox cap. We know he’s good. We know a lot that you don’t, though. That he’s breaking down. That he was getting tired of Boston. That he, a man of challenges, finally defeated the Boston challenge and was ready for another one. Another spotlight. Another stage. New York.

The National Anthem
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Pedro Martinez, if he returned to Boston, would not be 7-1 with a 2.45 ERA. He’d be somewhere around 5-3 with a 3.50 ERA. Pedro has a few things going for him in the NL, which believe it or not, people, is why he’s succeeding. Trust me, non-Sox fans … we know.
+ Pedro has a challenge now. Pedro always needs a challenge, and he has one – proving he deserved the contract he got.
+ Pedro is on a bigger stage – New York, where deep down, he has always wanted to shine. He just wouldn’t do it for the Yankees.

Oil Can Boyd?
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+ Pedro is now in the National League, where there is no DH, and by extension, no other dangerous hitter. No David Ortiz. No (pre-breakdown) Jason Giambi. No Edgar Martinez. Get the point?
+ Pedro is facing a much weaker league. While the NL has more home-runs than the AL the last few years, it is the AL who is more offensively inclined and with much deeper lineups. The NL doesn’t have that. Aside from the Cardinals, there is no true “vaunted” lineup.
+ Pedro is facing hitters that for the great majority have (1) never seen him or (2) haven’t seen him since his Montreal days, when he was a thrower, not a pitcher.
No wonder Pedro’s succeeding. You think Red Sox fans are surprised? We’re not. We knew he’d succeed. He has the recipe to succeed. We know Pedro, you don’t. And we know that the Pedro you’re seeing the season is NOT the Pedro you would have seen in a Red Sox uniform.

Eddie Riley pitches
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And now everyone’s saying the Red Sox suck. First of all, they do not suck. They are 31-27. Sixteen teams would love to be 31-27. And they’re not. So there.
Also, I’ll say it again. We have been road warriors so far this year, and we get our due from August 26 to the end of the season when 24 of 36 are at home. Considering we have the fifth best home record in the majors, second in AL, first in the AL East, I’m guessing we win a ton of games then. Let’s assume that the 24 of 36 are immediately following. We have a 17-9 record at home, or a .654 winning percentage. We are 14-18 on the road, and while that won’t hold up, for posterity’s sake, let’s say that it holds up, at a .437 W%.
(By the way, only six teams have a home record below .500 … 11 in in 2004, eight in 2003, 10 in 2002, 12 in 2001, 7 in 2000. Other nice little facts: Colorado HOME 15-15 AWAY 4-23. Cincinnati HOME 16-14 AWAY 6-21. Oakland HOME 15-13 AWAY 8-21. TB HOME 16-14 AWAY 4-24. Houston HOME 16-12 AWAY 4-24. Out of all the teams we have played this year (interleague being combined into one team) we only have one losing record – 2-6 v. TOR.) So out of these 12 away games in this 36 game span, using the .437 W%, that’s 5.25 wins. Round down, and we go 5-7. Okay, so that’s 5-7, so now we are 36-34. Now take the .654 W% at home over 24 games, that is 15.69… wins, so 16. That means we go 16-8. Our record is now 52-42. We would be in first, and if the Orioles continue the way they have been, would be two games behind us. Anyone complaining?
It’s early. Give it time. Believe in Theo. Wait for his trades. Wait for Craig Hansen to arrive. And more importantly, wait until August 26.