Time to interrupt my final two Stacy McCain posts to comment a little on the issues of the day/week.

There have been attacks in London and Paris this week.  In Paris the target was just one policeman in London the underground but the most amazing thing about both attacks is the continuing unwillingness of either people to fight back.

There was an altogether different incident in London this week as well where Transgender activists, beat up a 60 year old woman recording a feminist event at Hyde Park drawing the approval of at least one democrat candidate for congress in Massachusetts.  Apparently the new British culture of not fighting back doesn’t just extend to Islamist terror.

Ben Shapiro spoke at Berkeley this week and wrote of the lesson of his speeches.  The most important is one that our British friends might take not of, if the police are allowed to enforce the law, law  order and freedom of speech are upheld.

I suspect that the only thing I find less remarkable than this facebook story concerning targeting ads based on phrases concerning “jew hatred” is not very remarkable assumption b pro-publica that such a person would be on the right.  It has is a firm resolution of the media/left to ignore the rising antisemitism in their ranks for even very longer than my own resolution to not set up an account on facebook.

I’m old enough to remember when the media/left insisted that Scooter Libby had to be jailed over the Valerie Plame affair.  Strangely enough Susan Rice’s activities don’t seem to excite any worry at all to them, after all her targets were their political enemies.

The Red Sox failure to punish those behind the banner incident beyond ejection is going to encourage more of this at more Redsox Patriots Bruins and perhaps even Celtics games.  And while I agree with the Herald that it will hurt the left in the long run, it will also make these games much less enjoyable for those who enjoy sports so I don’t like the trade off.

Speaking of things that are bad press for the left it’s quite correct that Bernie Sanders who thought single payer was too expensive when the country’s population was smaller has frightened the left into signing on.  It’s things like this that are the best allies of a GOP that fails to satisfy it’s voters and a president who might consider doing the same.

Even worse for the left is the fact that many on their side, young, hip and of color are questioning it.  How soon will we see rebelling against the left PC become the next cool thing for the eternally bored young?

Andrew Breitbart told us that politics is downstream from culture, Phelim McAleer with his Ferguson play has taken these words to heart and is going to make sure some of that truth gets downstream.  Would that more of those on the right, particularly those who waste their funds on consultants, did so too.

Finally I find reading “Chelsea” Manning play the victim over losing a visiting fellowship at the Kennedy School at Harvard when she will still be given a speaking slot at the most prestigious  almost as amazing as the initial invitation.  Then again considering what I saw at Harvard last week, the idea that the Kennedy School, as in John Fitzgerald Kennedy war hero,  would honor a traitor who is only free from a 35 year jail sentence because we elected a president with a great affection for enemies of America does not seem that amazing at all.

If you are looking for a distraction from the news of the day and a lot of people are these days, you’re in luck.  Major League Baseball is giving us a some division and wild card races this season that (unless you are a fan of the NL East) really fits the bill.

Let’s start in the American League East The first Boston Red Sox Team without David Ortiz in 15 years has managed to keep first place in the East despite injuries to Price and Pedroia and the Bust that was Pablo Sandoval who they finally released eating tens of millions in salary. However their arch rivals the New York Yankees are under five games out and with more than a 3rd of their remaining games against either the Yanks or teams currently in First place they will be hard pressed to keep themselves 16 games over .500 when the season comes to a close.

In the Central Cleveland continues to prove that last year’s Pennant wasn’t a fluke sitting five games up, but both Minnesota under 2nd Year manager Paul Molitor and the 2015 World Champion Kansas City Royals have no intention of going quietly. The next three weeks will be the key as the Tribe will be playing a 17 game where their opponents are Boston, the Yankees, Twins and Kansas City. If they get through that three week stretch still on top then Terry Francona has to feel really good about their chances for another shot at breaking their 69 year championship drought

In the west The Houston Astros are likely the only team breathing easy. With an 11.5 game lead in their division and only three games against a 1st place team before the last week of the season (and those against the Washington Nationals also sitting pretty and safe) it will take a massive collapse for Houston to fail to win their first division title since 2001 not to mention their first since joining the American League

AL Wild card: Wild is the way to describe this race. The Yankees currently hold the first wild card spot and two games behind them sits the Angels but seven count the SEVEN teams Minnesota, Kansas City, Baltimore, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Texas and Toronto, sit within 3.5 games of that final spot. but are as close to the Yankees as they are to the Red Sox. More teams will be playing more meaningful games this later in the season then we’ve seen in a long time.

In the National League East Washington sits in a similar position as Houston in the AL west. With a comfortable 13.5 game lead and schedule lacking in division leaders their have an entire two months to try to figure out how to get by the LA Dodgers in October

The NL Central is where the action is.  The World Champion Cubs (It’s still odd to write that) hold a slim 1.5 game lead over StL with Milwaukee and Pittsburgh both under five games out. While August isn’t so bad 18 of their games in Sept will be against teams chasing them. If they win that division they’ll have earned it.

In the West the only question left to answer is will the LA Dodgers break the record for most wins in a season.? They are already at 83 wins and if they only play .500 ball for the rest of the season would finish with 105.  With 26 games remaining against sub .500 teams a record breaking 117 wins is very possible and an earth shattering 120 while unlikely is not outside the realm of possibility. One caveat, the two teams that hold the 116 win record for a single season, one failed to get to the World Series and the other failed to win it.

NL Wild Card. Thanks to the Dodgers both the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondback have no prayer to win their division but with 66 wins each, enough to lead the central division in either league they share the wild card lead with only St. Louis, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh anywhere near close enough for a real challenge. The one fly in the ointment? Both teams have two series left with the record chasing Dodgers.

Put simply half way into August two thirds of major league clubs are still playing meaningful games so if you are a baseball fan watching a game this week you can expect some excellent baseball.

So great that Red Sox fans gave him a standing Ovation for robbing Hanley Ramirez of a Home Run:

 Red Sox fans know greatness when they see it.

That’s why Cleveland Indians center fielder Austin Jackson received a standing ovation from the Fenway Park faithful on Tuesday night after taking away a home run from Sox slugger Hanley Ramirez.

I was watching at the time it was the best catch I’ve ever seen in my life,

Basically he made the catch that Torii Hunter missed by 2 inches against David Ortiz back in 2014

If there was ever a play that deserved a standing ovation for an opposing player, it was that one, however Red Sox fans were rewarded for their good sportsmanship in the last of the 9th when Catcher Christian Vasquez hit a three run homer with two outs in the 9th to win the game for the Red Sox.

So all’s well that ends well

Well David Ortiz has taken his last plate appearance in the major leagues thanks to the Red Sox failure to generate offense, the excellence of Cleveland’s defense and the inferiority of Red Sox pitching suggesting once again that without pitching and defense, even a David Ortiz is not enough to guarantee a team a world series.

I say his last plate appearance rather than his last at bats because neither of his two final plate appearances credited him with an at bat. He had a sacrifice fly which drove in a run on third and a walk to finish his Red Sox career.

I’d like to talk about the latter.

There were many moving tributes to David Ortiz during the year and after last night’s game many more but the final tribute to him came during the bottom of the 8th inning.

Ortiz came up as the tying run with a man on first. This was a critical moment in the game, a moment where if the Red Sox had managed to tie the game all bets were off. Terry Francona, the manager of Cleveland well knew that giving this Red Sox team a lifeline by a win might turn into disaster and David Ortiz was the man to create this disaster.

So with the game on the line what did Cleveland do? Intentionally walk him? They could not, because with first base full that would imply fear and the best way inspire confidence in an opponent in baseball is to imply fear.

No what happened is Cleveland’s pitcher threw four pitches, and not a single one was in a spot where David Ortiz could hit it. Even though walking Ortiz put the dangerous Hanley Ramirez at the plate who could easily give the Sox the lead with one swing (and managed to drive in one run with a single) it didn’t matter. The game was on the line and the Cleveland Indians had no intention of letting the best clutch hitter in the history of the Boston Red Sox franchise, the hitter that carried the Red Sox fan base to one that expects success from one that anticipates failure on his own shoulders. The man who got the crowd into the game with a wave of his hands.

As I said there were many tributes to Ortiz this year and he likely at least one the Hall of Fame in five years and a shot at the MVP this year, but for my money the greatest tribute to Ortiz this year was the fact that at age 40, the Cleveland Indians decided that with game 3 on the line of a series they were already up 2-0 in David Ortiz would not get a pitch to hit.

I suspect the Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals, LA Dodgers and San Francisco Giants were very grateful for that decision.

So David Ortiz has played his last regular season game and ended said regular season career with a weak ground out to the pitcher.

While his finish was not spectacular let’s consider David Ortiz’s 2016 stats

Ortiz led the league in doubles with 48 (and that’s on two bad legs)
He led he league in RBI’s with 127
He led the league in extra base hits with 87 (finishing 8th all time btw)
He led the league with a .620 Slugging percentage (Ironically the only time he has led in this category in his career
He led the league with a 1.021 OPS (on base plus slugging)
He Led the league with 15 intentional walks

He finished 6th in Batting with a .315 avg
He finished 3rd in On Base percentage with .401
He finished 7th in total bases with 333
He finished 8th in Home runs with 38
He finished 8th in walks with 80
He finished 5th in runs created with 130
He finished 2nd in offensive win percentage at .756
He finished 5th in sacrifice flies with 7

and in more esoteric stats

He finished 2nd in adjusted OPS
He finished 2nd in adjusted batting runs
He finished 2nd in adjusted batting wins
He finished 5th in at bats per HR ratio
He finished 2nd in base outs runs added
He finished 3rd in win probability added
He finished 4th in situational wins added

And on the minus side was 4th in hitting into double plays with 22

For any normal player such a season would be considered spectacular.

For a 40 year old player with bad legs an feet in his final major league season that is spectacular.

No major league player in a career not ended by suspension (Joe Jackson) sudden death (Roberto Clemente) or Serious injury / disease (Sandy Koufax) has ever had a year like this to finish a career and of course there is still the playoffs to come.

I have no idea how the Red Sox or Ortiz will do in the playoffs, but even if the Tribe sweeps us in 3 and Ortiz goes 0-12 consier this.

While Curt Schilling deserves a fair share of the 2004 credit David Ortiz is the man who converted the Red Sox franchise and fans from a group of people waiting to see what would go wrong, to a franchise that believes it can win in any given year. He is a player that transformed fandom in this region.

I don’t expect to see another like him in my lifetime.

Intern: Wonderful thing, pain. Without pain, no race could survive.
4th Doctor: I’m well aware of that.
Intern: Autonomic defence mechanism.

Doctor Who, The Hand of Fear 1976

Although the Red Sox have been on a rough patch lately there has been one constant factor this season.  David Ortiz is the reason they are in the race for the pennant.

Ortiz is 40 years old yet his numbers this season have been phenomenal:

He currently leads the league in doubles, slugging percentage, Extra base hits, total bases and intentional walks.

He also leads the league in some less known stats such as: adjusted batting runs, adjusted batting wins, OPS, OPS+slug, base out runs added, situational wins added,

And he is in the top 10 in all of these following categories

Batting avg 3rd
Home Runs 6th
RBI’s 2nd
On base percentage 2nd
Runs Created 2nd
Times on base 7th
At Bats per HR 3rd
Wins above replacement 10th
Offensive wins above replacement 3rd

This would be quite an accomplishment for a player in his prime, for a 40 year old player in what should be his final season, that’s ungodly.

Additionally he is being well compensated for these achievements. This year he is making $16,000,000 and while he has announced his retirement the team has a $10,000,000 option for next year if he was to change his mind.

That being the case an observer might think that postponing retirement for another year or two might be a wise decision after all he continues to be a productive player and baring injury it is highly likely that he will suddenly become a mediocre player in the next year or two.

Furthermore there is that $10,000,000 option. Even if he is hired by the Red Sox as a permanent batting instructor, by MLB in whatever capacity they choose, hired by ESPN or MLB network as an analyst and get endorsements high and low he will likely never see any like that kind of money ever again in his life.

But for all those numbers, including the dollar signs some things are just more important

“Big Papi” arrives at the stadium before any other player to start the long process of preparing for a game, particularly when it comes to his feet. He said he feels pain in his feet every day, and they are the main reason he guarantees he will never change his mind and come back for another season.

“Everything hurts,” he said. “It even hurts to think. Last time I reached second after a double, I almost called for a timeout so they would get me out of the game. I can barely run because my feet hurt so much. I am in severe pain.

“One often tries to live in the moment, and even when your body is saying no, you say yes, even when your body says not to. Only mental strength convinces you that you can continue. Mental strength tells you that you can keep at it. But the body is a machine; it will give out and will send you a bill.”

 

And David Ortiz is wise enough to know that no amount of cheers, honors or money will pay that bill for him and is acting accordingly.

That’s  an important lesson and I suspect more than one older pro athlete is nodding their head wishing that at the end of their career they were wise enough to do the same.

Missy (The Master): He’s trapped at the heart of the Dalek empire. He’s a prisoner of the creatures who hate him most in the universe. Between us and him is everything the deadliest race in all of history can throw at us. We, on the other hand, have a pointy stick. How do we start?
Clara: We assume we’re going to win.

Doctor Who: The Witches’ Familiar 2015

There are few thing I enjoy more than re-watching the 2004 ALCS series starting with the 9th inning of game 4.

Even twelve years later and with three world series in the bag. The 2004 ALCS is special. It brings a smile to the face and a tear to the eye and it all began with the greatest stolen base in Red Sox History:

and ended with Big Papi knocking it out.

Now for Red Sox fans like myself the great comeback of 2004 is particularly special because it was our first world series win. That first championship is always the greatest.

I’m sure this isn’t unique to Red Sox fans. 1969 was the first championship for the Met and the 1969 Miracle Mets as some might have forgotten came back from behind to take the East from the Chicago Cubs and then swept Atlanta to win their first pennant.

Yes that’s a young Nolan Ryan who was to win his only World Series Ring of his incredible career with those Miracle Mets.

And if you go back even further in 1951 the then NY Giants were 12 1/2 back in August and 4 1/2 games back with ten to play and managed to come back and take the Pennant.

Now All of these teams and comebacks are legendary and every baseball fan knows them. Do you know the reason why?

Because they are exceptions.

Nobody talks about the seasons when the Yankees dominated in the 90’s or the Reds in 1976 or the 1973 Oakland A’s not because they weren’t great teams but because thing happened as expected.

And that brings us to the election results tonight.

As of this writing Massachusetts, Georgia, Virginia and Alabama and Tennessee have all gone for Donald Trump and when CNN reported that GOP donors are getting together to get money together to stop him Jake Tapper just said “Why don’t they wait till after the inauguration?”

At the same time as the GOP Establishment is doing this many of my fellow conservative activists are talking about the same thing stopping Trump or suggesting that he’s in trouble to wit

Now as I’ve said over and Over I’m a Ted Cruz guy. I voted for him today and I urge all voters to vote for Ted as the best candidate to secure the border, stop Obamacare, I’m glad he’s leading in Texas and exit polls look good in Oklahoma which would be one more state than the MSM was projecting and I’d be delighted for him to come back and win the nomination.

But I understand that such a comeback would be in the same class as the 2004 Red Sox , the 1969 Mets and the 1951 Giants and have no intention of pretending otherwise and I hope the Ted Cruz campaign does the same because you can’t get to where you want to go unless you understand where you are.

Now I don’t expect the Establishment GOP to tell the truth but I’m really bothered to see my fellow conservative activists retreat to their safe spaces

Cue south Park

*******************************

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Ruberry Hopkinton
Blogger at Boston
Marathon start, 1996

By John Ruberry

Tomorrow morning the 118th Boston Marathon will begin 26.2 miles from Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood in Hopkinton. It will be the most most closely-watched of the Grandaddy of all Marathons because of last year’s savage bombings by two Islamist terrorists near the finish on Boylston Street that killed three people and injured 264 others.

I’ve finished 33 marathons and three Boston races–those were in 1994, 1996, and 2004. Until this year’s run, the most anticipated race was the 100th Boston in ’96 when there were over 38,000 participants–the most ever–which is a record that is expected to be topped on Monday.

For runners, qualifying for Boston is considered their ultimate goal, in my age group, I need to run 3 hours and 30 minutes in another marathon to be accepted. Yes, many are called but few are chosen. Runners raising money for charity are also accepted.

Boston is a different race in so many ways. Chiefly, the crowd support is unmatched. A half-million fans line the streets from Hopkinton-to-Ashland-to-Framingam-to-Natick-to Wellesley-to-Newton-to-Boston.  Many families have been watching the race for generations from the roadside. They barbecue, they post updates on the Red Sox game on chalkboards, and they cheer.

Mile after mile.

Ruberry at Wellesley
Ruberry at Wellesley

Other than the finish, my favorite spot on the Boston Marathon run is at the halfway point at all-female Wellesley College, dubbed the “scream tunnel” by runners. The women offer by far the most enthusiastic support on the route. In 1996, an older runner–who was about my age now–quipped, “Wow, even I can get lucky on this campus today.”

While not as loud as Wellesley, the encouragement in Newton, home of Heartbreak Hill and three other thigh-and-calf-punishing massive hills, is certainly needed and welcome.

After passing Boston College, it is literally all-downhill from there for the entrants. With less than a mile left, runners turn from Hereford Street onto Boylston–another scream tunnel. Every runner feels like a celebrity on Boston Marathon Day on that street.

But that is where those cruel bombs were detonated last year.

I won’t be there tomorrow, but I am certain the crowd noise will be louder than ever on Boylston as the athletes run to the finish.

The fans are as much of a part of this legendary race as the runners in the Boston Marathon.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit

Back in April when the RedSox Sellout streak ended I wrote this:

It appears the Boston Red Sox streak of sellouts is going to end this year. The Sox have a 6 state customer base, one of the most historic franchise in the nation and a ballpark that is not only one of the smallest in the majors but is itself an attraction in itself.

“It’s going to rest in peace sometime in April, I suspect,” Lucchino said of the streak, which began in 2003 and is the longest in U.S. pro sports history. “That’s not such a terrible thing. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment.”

But even that isn’t enough if you don’t put a worthwhile product on the field.

Sports Illustrated agreed, here is their projection from their baseball preview issue:

Boston Red Sox

2012 Record: 69-93, fifth in AL East

2013 Projection: 77-85, fifth in AL East

and they questioned the acquisition of Shane Victorino

Biggest Loss: Cody Ross

Ross was one of the few bright spots in Boston last year, a good-natured clubhouse presence who played solid defense in the outfield and produced at the plate: he slugged 22 homers, drove in 81 runs and had an OPS of .807. Yet the Sox essentially replaced him with Victorino, who will cost some $13 million more over the next three years (Ross signed a three year, $26 million deal with the Diamondbacks), who has a similar personality and plays even better defense, but, at the same age as Ross (32), had an OPS last season that was more than 100 points lower. In an offseason full of sensible changes, this seems to have been a questionable one.

In April I would have agreed to cover any Red Sox fan willing to bet on them to win the series and given them 100-1. If I had I’d be in worse shape than Obamacare.

That’s why you play the games

While the experts were all wrong there was at least one young lady who knew better and I met her in April.

An amazing thing happened at the Supermarket yesterday.

I was in the 12 items or less line when a family of three were behind me started talking to the cashier. I tend to hear all kinds of things that I store away but when the young lady named Catlin told her friend about her father talking about putting a TV in the shower for her it stopped me cold.

I had to turn and inquire:

“What about water on the set”

“It would be high”

“The water is going to splash off of you and up”

“We’re going to put plexiglass over the screen.”

As my head continued to spin I finally turned to this young 15 year old girl standing with her parents and asked the following question:

“Young lady, can you tell me one thing that is going to be on your television set that is so important, so critical and so unavailable in repeats that it can’t wait for a time when you are not wet and naked in the shower?”

She silenced me in three words:

“Red Sox Games”

How does any New Englander answer that?

I guess she knew better than me & SI I wonder how many Red Sox wins she watched in that shower this year?

I’ve never been so pleased to be dead wrong.

This morning I went into Boston very early and caught the line of people hoping against all hope to score tickets to tonight’s game.

The person first in line had actually arrived on Monday. He had just finished one job and was about to start a new one giving him the free time to spend two night in line.

Several Hours later when the sun had risen I perused the line again to get commentary from as many people as possible

I was surprised at how many people came from so many different places all with a common goal to get in somehow.

Given that the decision to pitch to David Ortiz with First base open was one of the most controversial decisions of the series to this point, as repeatedly asked if those in line if they were managing St. Louis would pitch to Ortiz with a base open. While a few of the people said “yes” the general consensus was; walk David Ortiz even if first base wasn’t open.

Ironically after I left this line I ran into a large group of Cardinal fans who declined to go on camera. I asked them my David Ortiz question. The Cardinal fans answered bluntly. They didn’t care if the bases are loaded and the game tied, They’d all give Ortiz a free pass each time up rather than risk pitching to him.

On the other side of the park they were still conducting Fenway tours. I spoke to one of the attendants and they indicated they would continue to do so till 4 PM. I talked to a couple from Vancouver Washington who was attending one.

I couldn’t help but wonder if any of the fans waiting in that ticket line considered trying the tour instead and hoping to lose their escort & hide in the mens room to get in.

It turned out I wasn’t the only person who was doing some independent journalism. A young senior named Samantha was too.

There will be a lot to see at Fenway tonight. Hopefully all those who waited many hours in the hopes of seeing it person will be rewarded.