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Pitcher Kikuchi Decides to Stay in Japan

10.24.09 at 11:09 pm ET
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Yusei Kikuchi, the highly regarded Japanese phenom with whom the Red Sox met on Monday, has decided to remain in Japan and enter the NPB draft rather than pursue a career in the U.S. The Sox were one of eight teams Major League Baseball teams with whom the left-handed pitcher met.

Kikuchi features a fastball that sits at 89-92 mph and that touches the mid-90s. That, combined with a potentially plus-curveball, made him a talent who intrigued teams in the U.S. and Japan alike.

Kikuchi, 18, could have signed as an international amateur free agent with an MLB team. He is more highly regarded than countryman Junichi Tazawa, who signed a $3.3 million major-league deal with the Sox as an amateur last offseason.

He announced his decision in a press conference in Japan.

Wakefield: ‘Everything was awesome’

10.22.09 at 4:02 pm ET
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Speaking on a conference call, Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield said “everything was awesome” regarding Wednesday’s surgery on his herniated disc in his back and that he plans on beginning his usual preparation for the 2010 season in 4-6 week

Wakefield reiterated that he is still setting the goal of winning 200 career games, while also setting the mark for most victories by a Red Sox’ pitcher, currently owned by Roger Clemens and Cy Young (192), which he is shy of 17 of tying. The 43-year-old said that he had no regrets on how he or the team handled the injury, which limited Wakefield to four starts after the All-Star break. Wakefield also said that his arm felt fresher, even before the injury, than the last few seasons.

It was assumed that if the surgery went well the Red Sox would pick up the 43-year-old’€™s $4 million option for the 2010 season. The Red Sox have five days after the conclusion of the World Series to exercise the option.

‘€œWake is someone that is in our plans and we hope makes starts for us next year and is a member of the rotation,’€ said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein during a press conference the day after the conclusion of the Red Sox’€™ season. ‘€œWe haven’€™t sat down and finalized anything. Obviously we want to see how the surgery goes and then both sides will sit down and talk.’€ 

Wakefield has said that doctors told him that the procedure would not hinder his preparation for next season. The disc had pressed on a nerves in the pitcher’s back, causing weakness in his right leg.

Theo speaks on offseason, Drew, and philosophies

10.22.09 at 8:50 am ET
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Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein joined the Dennis & Callahan Show Thursday morning and touched on his team’s approach to the offseason, the value of J.D. Drew, the future of Daniel Bard as a closer. and some of the organization’s philosophies. 

Here is what he said (click here to listen)

(On watching the postseason) It does kind of remind you that the offseason is almost upon us and there are some long phone calls. But I’ll tell you what, it’s hard watching games when you’re rooting for both teams to lose.

If we had to make long-term decisions the next day we probably wouldn’t make great decisions. 

A lot of time if you focus on why you lost a certain playoff series, and what went wrong in that series, you’re not going to make quality decisions. If you look at the season as a whole, what went wrong and what went right in the season and take a look at the big picture and where you are as an organization, where you are in your long-term plans you make better decisions. It’s not as much fun. Having that visceral reaction is sometimes more satisfying, but you have to take a step back.

If you would have told us that Bay would have a big season, Drew would have a big season, Ellsbury would have a big developmental season, a big step forward, Youkilis would have another big season, we would trade for Victor Martinez at the trading deadline and he would be huge for two months, we’d have food performance at the front of our rotation with Beckett and Lester, Buchholz would come in July and become a really good pitcher for two months. All these things went right and we won 95 games I would say, ‘Let’s go, let’s start the playoffs tomorrow.’ I just feel like we didn’t show up in those three games. It wasn’t like we weren’t a team without any issues whatsoever. We had our issues and they manifested and cost us a little bit. We went through mysterious and frustrating stretches where we didn’t hit at all on the road. That happens.

(The premise that it is harder to retain a player once they hit the free agent market) That could happen here. Clearly if a player reaches free agency usually the team that over bids is the one that lands him. That’s not necessarily the case here, but it sure could be. We have to prepare for that contingency if he leaves. I don’t think the negotiation is over by any means.

Certainly there’s a good feeling involved. He wants to be here, and we want to keep him and take a shot it. If it works out, great. If not we’ll move on.

(On the lack of performance on the road) This year for some reason we really underperformed on the road. There are players who don’t have the pop to go out regularly on the road but do at Fenway, and those guys perform a lot better at home than on the road. But there are other players who don’t particularly don’t have characteristics that would make them better players at Fenway that also underperformed on the road. Maybe there’s something to it where we can’t have to many guys who have swings built for Fenway Park, but I think mainly it was just a fluky year almost every player just happened to play better at home than on the road.

(On the personality of the team) We can’t build a team on sort of psycho-babble. We try and get 25 high-character guy. The bottom line is this team had a great personality. It was calm outwardly on the field, very  professional, but behind closed doors they had a ton of fun. There were a lot of leaders who showed up hard to play every single day. We won 95 games in a really tough division and if we had performed better in the playoffs nobody would be talking about our personality.

I couldn’t care less whether they’re emotional and display their personality on the field, or in order to play well they keep their emotions under check. I couldn’t care less as they play well and they’re good teammates to one another.

(On perception of J.D. Drew) There’s always been a descrepency between how valuable a player he is and how he’s viewed by a certain element of the fan base, and the media in particular. There’s been a lot of strides in the game in terms of how people properly value players based on more meaningful statistics. Drew is sort of a touchstone so to speak for that because you actually look at the underlying performance and things that really matter as far as winning games and not winning games, he’s been over the length of the contract one of the 10 most valuable outfielders in baseball. Over the last two years I think he’s been one of the top two or three in the league, and this past year, again, one of the top two or three most valuable outfielders in the American League. And yet if you simplify the game down to what somebody’s batting average was, how many home runs they hit or how many RBIs they had, which is what we all grew up doing but by today’s standards is a pretty primitive way to look at the game.

From a straight objective standpoint, what he contributes offensively and what he contributes defensively, and add in baserunning so it’s the total value of the player, on a rate basis he was outstanding and there aren’t too many outfielders who compare to what he did.

(Is Drew worth the contract?) What he’s done the first three years of that contract, just looking at straight free agent dollars — obviously you can’t compare him to an arbitration market, or a pre-arb player — what he’s done qualitatively and when you even factor in the amount he’s played over these three years, yeah, he’s come out to a tick more than $14 million per year.

(On Drew not driving in runs) This year it was sort of freakish how well he performed offensively and how few runs he drove in in the lineup. Start with the basic premise that that type of player is always going to be better at scoring runs than driving in runs in because while he does have a high slug, his on-base skills, those are his strengths because he’s on base a lot and he’s a terrific baserunner. He’s going to score more runs. When somebody who tends to walk a lot tends to drive in fewer runs than somebody who puts the ball in play a lot. In Drew’s case he’s an extreme because he walks at a tremendously high rate. Ted Williams has been criticized over and over again, hey runner on third and less than two outs you have to expand the zone and swing at something that’s a ball just to drive the runner in. Well, Williams wouldn’t do that. He would take his walk and he was criticized for it. Wade Boggs was criticized for it. J.D. doesn’t do it. Some hitters come out of their approach and put the ball in play in RBI situation and drive in runs and some hitters don’t do that. Drew is the type of hitter who doesn’t do it, and to be honest with you as an organization we don’t mind if guys don’t come out their approach. It might cost you not driving in runs here or there but in the long run, staying in one’s approach which is getting in a hitters count, getting a pitch you can drive and then driving that ball, and if not then taking your walk, in our mind that’s more fundamentally more important. 

There’s labels that tend to happen. People who don’t like Drew will call him uncaring or apathetic or aloof. People who like him will say he has ice in his veins. Then these narratives may or may not even be true, so people who don’t like a player like that will say, ‘He doesn’t care. He doesn’t come through in the clutch.’ They just start these broad labels that aren’t necessarily true. Can you think of a hitter who has had more big hits, more big home runs for us the past three season in the postseason in the last three seasons than Drew? He has more postseason RBIs the past three years than any player that we have. So this narrative sort of takes a life of it own and it’s not always true.

(On not valuing such stats as RBI as some others) If we both grew up in schools that taught us the Earth was flat and then all of a sudden when we went out to get a job as a surveyor and the first thing they taught us in school and the first thing they taught us in school was that the Earth was round it would be tough for you to accept that but over time you would start to operate in which the world is round and make better decisions based on that and that’s sort of the way the game is evolving. I actually don’t believe in extremes. I believe that you have to balance it and don’t look exclusively at any one set of numbers. You have to balance in the human element. You have to balance in scouting with objective analysis. But for something that fundamental like using numbers … if you’re using numbers to access offensive performance than don’t use numbers that don’t correlate to scoring runs which then correlates to winning. You might as well use the numbers which best correlate to scoring runs which correlates best to winning.

(On referencing Ortiz in the post-season press conference) I stated a reality is that to be the team we needs to be, David Ortiz is our DH, he needs to be a force. We’re a different team when he is a force, when he’s hitting all kinds of pitching and hitting the ball to all fields and being a really tough out and driving the ball. That’s just the reality. I’m not trying to send anybody a message. I don’t send messages to the players through the media. I talk to our players a lot about things, but I don’t send messages through the media.

(On whether Daniel Bard is ready to be a closer) I think he has the physical ability to do that and I think we saw as he developed over the course of the year he has the mental make-up to do that as well. At the same time I think he’s a work in progress. This is somebody who performed really well at the highest level but is still working on some fundamental parts of his game. He’s still tweaking his breaking ball. He’s got a good breaking ball but it probably isn’t where it will be eventually. This is somebody who is still really a work in progress and while he may have the ability to do something it might not be the best thing for the long-term and his career if we force him into something.

How a Hitting Coach and Little League Saved Ortiz’ Season

10.22.09 at 4:39 am ET
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The task of hitting coaches is at times complex. They need to be detail oriented, observing their players’€™ swing paths, contact points, pre-swing set-up, hand position, foot position and bat speed, among several other factors.

Yet sometimes, hitting coaches’€™ most important observations have less to do with the technical details of hitting than they do with the psychology of hitting. The 2009 season represented a case study in that notion for Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and hitting coach Dave Magadan.

Ortiz had a startling tale of two seasons. Through the end of May, he was hitting just .185 with one homer, a .284 OBP and .570 slugging mark, statistics more befitting a pitcher than a player with a reputation as one of the most feared sluggers in the game. Many were inclined to suggest Ortiz was done, and it would have been difficult to dismiss such gloomy forecasts.

Starting in June, however, Ortiz hit .264 with a .356 OBP and .904 OPS, blasting 27 homers and driving in 81 runs in the process. It was not quite vintage Ortiz, but it was not far off.

Ortiz insists that the hairpin turn that he achieved in 2009 was almost entirely about a changed mental approach to the game. And for that, he suggested, Magadan had helped immensely.

‘€œI said, ‘€˜[Expletive] it ‘€“ I’€™m going to play like it’€™s Little League.’€ I’€™m serious about this. One day, I woke up and I went, ‘€˜Okay, I guess I’€™ve got nothing to lose anymore. I’€™m way behind what I’€™m normally used to. I’€™ll go to the field today, and not do [expletive]. I’€™m just going to act like I’€™m in Little League,’€™’€ Ortiz said late in the regular season.

‘€œI really got that, I guess, one day from Magadan. He told me one day, ‘€˜You’€™re listening to everybody. Any time you have a bad swing or had a bad game.’€™ He said, ‘€˜We know more about your swing than anyone else. We watch you take 3,000 swings a day. Just stay away from everything. Just go and see the ball and hit it.’€™’€

Magadan had spent ample time dissecting Ortiz’€™ slump, and saw that the Sox designated hitter simply wasn’€™t himself. There was a great deal of guesswork at the plate, as Ortiz seemed to be anticipating off-speed pitches ‘€“ a fear that may have been the byproduct of Manny Ramirez‘€™ departure, with Ortiz left to worry that opposing pitchers wouldn’€™t throw him anything to hit.

Ortiz spent the first couple of months of the season lost at the plate. It was obvious in both his approach and statistics.

‘€œHe dug a big hole for himself at the beginning of the year,’€ said Magadan in late-September. ‘€œA lot of people were writing him off. We all still felt that he had a lot left in the tank.’€

And so, Magadan tried to engage Ortiz in a fashion that would allow the slugger’€™s natural talents to come to the fore. That is where the conversation about Little League became not merely useful but essential.

Magadan did not recall the precise date of the conversation with Ortiz. But he did recall that the moment came in the deepest throes of the two-month, season-opening slump.

‘€œIt was probably when he was in the midst of his one homer, hitting a buck-eighty time,’€ said the Red Sox hitting coach. ‘€œHe was beating himself up. Sometimes you have to just say, ‘€˜Hey ‘€“ go out there and have fun. Don’€™t try to force the issue.’€™ Simplify the game. Don’€™t try to make it more difficult than it is. Have fun. Just go up there trying to hit a ball hard.”

By and large, Ortiz was able to do that over the final four months of the 2009 regular season. He had worked with Magadan to make subtle technical adjustments in the past, but in this instance, his job had far less to do with the details of a swing than with the thought process that entered into one. Ortiz’ season was salvaged, in no trivial part by a bit of perspective offered from his hitting coach.

Dave Magadan will visit the WEEI.com Virtual Press Box on Thursday, Oct. 22, at noon. For details of his chat, visit the Full Count Blog.

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Report: Naming of Hoyer as Padres G.M. Imminent

10.22.09 at 3:53 am ET
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The San Diego Union-Tribune, citing a source, is reporting that the selection of Red Sox assistant general manager Jed Hoyer as the next G.M. of the San Diego Padres is “imminent.” Hoyer has been perceived for some time in baseball circles as the front-runner for the position.

Padres CEO Jeff Moorad declined to comment on Hoyer’s candidacy for the article, though his comments were in keeping with the notion that the Padres hope to name the successor to Kevin Towers — who was fired at the end of the 2009 season after 14 years as the San Diego architect — before the start of the World Series.

‘€œWe’re still working on it,’€ Moorad told the Union-Tribune via e-mail Wednesday night. ‘€œWe have a couple follow-up discussions scheduled for (Thursday), then are likely to move toward a decision.’€

Hoyer did not return an email seeking comment.

Hoyer, 35, has been with the Red Sox since 2002, when he was hired as an intern. He was named Assistant to the General Manager in 2003, served briefly as the co-G.M. of the Sox (along with Ben Cherington) from Dec. 2005-Jan. 2006, before being named Assistant G.M. with Theo Epstein’s return to the organization in 2006.

Hoyer is perhaps best known for having spent his Thanksgiving in 2003 at Curt Schilling’s house, helping to convince the pitcher to waive his no-trade clause and agree to come to Boston. Hoyer also played significant roles in the deal that brought Coco Crisp to the Red Sox from the Indians (a deal whose groundwork was laid while Hoyer and Cherington were co-GMs) and the contract extension for Dustin Pedroia, among others.

The Padres GM opening is considered attractive for several reasons. In addition to the fact that San Diego is considered one of the top places in the country to live, the Padres play in a ballpark that allows for the creation of a significant home-field advantage, both the area and park can be used as selling points to free agents, and the payroll features few to no dead-weight contracts.

Moreover, Hoyer’s former Boston colleague Josh Byrnes — formerly the Red Sox assistant G.M., now the G.M. of the Arizona Diamondbacks — had an excellent working relationship with Moorad. As CEO of the Diamondbacks, Moorad signed Byrnes to an eight-year extension (through the 2015 season) that provided as much job security as virtually any employee — player, manager, coach or executive — in the industry.

Though there had been some rumors that fellow Red Sox assistant G.M. (and former co-G.M.) Ben Cherington was also under consideration for the position, Cherington said that he has not had any contacted with the Padres about the vacancy. All the same, he expressed enthusiasm about the possibility that his longtime colleague might soon be in charge of San Diego’s baseball operations.

“If there is anything to the rumors about Jed,” Cherington wrote in an email, “I think the Padres would be getting a great guy.”

Read More: ben cherington, jed hoyer, jeff moorad, josh byrnes

Gammons Talks Manny, A-Rod on The Big Show

10.21.09 at 6:09 pm ET
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ESPN Senior Writer Peter Gammons checked in with The Big Show on Wednesday to take stock of the postseason. Gammons discussed the blown calls during the playoffs this year, the breakout Octobers by CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez, and the latest installments of drama surrounding Manny Ramirez.

Gammons suggested that the Dodgers were probably unconcerned about the fact that Ramirez was showering in the ninth inning while his team was suffering its walk-off loss to the Phillies, but he did suggest that other incidents — including a failure to hustle after a Shane Victorino triple in the sixth inning of L.A.’s 5-4 loss on Monday — were of greater concern.

“I don’€™t think [showering during the ninth inning] plays badly in the clubhouse. Some of the younger players have been laughing with me for a year about, ‘€˜Manny’€™s a leader.’€™ Please. Manny is Manny. He wasn’€™t a leader. Casey Blake is the guy Matt Kemp and all of them follow everywhere. I don’€™t think it bothers them,” said Gammons. “I remember in 1986. When the ball went through Bill Buckner‘€™s legs, Keith Hernandez was sitting in front of his locker in his underwear drinking a beer.

“I don’€™t think it bothers them that much. Manny kind of goes his own way. It bothered me more on the ball that Victorino hit down the line that Manny kind of sauntered over and lobbed the ball in. To me it was a little bit of lack of respect for the situation, not unlike the whole business of not running a ball out when John Lackey had a no-hitter in Fenway Park.

“What’€™s interesting is there’€™s no doubt in my mind, considering all that will be hitting the gossip pages of L.A. over the next few months in the McCourt divorce, there’€™s no doubt in my mind that if there weren’€™t a player option, there’€™s no way the Dodgers would pick up the option of Manny Ramirez. They would say, ‘€˜Good bye, good riddance.”

Gammons, who also conducted the ESPN interview in which Alex Rodriguez admitted in February that he used steroids, suggested that Rodriguez’ dominant postseason (in which he is hitting .407 with a 1.469 OPS, 5 HRs and 11 RBIs in 7 games) is the byproduct of a great player who is suddenly unburdened of the weight of “the need to pretend that he was perfect.”

“Alex said to me several times during the year that once he was basically stripped naked in that interview, sweating and hyperventilating and all the rest and had to admit that he wasn’€™t perfect, he went back to being a normal human being. That need to pretend that he was perfect I think drove him half-crazy,” said Rodriguez. “Now he’€™s just another guy. Plus, I remember him saying this to me in April, he said, ‘€œYou know what? The steroids or whatever, if the Yankees win, it will all be forgiven. It’€™s not about me, it’€™s about the Yankees.’€™ It’€™s a lot easier to go play when you’€™re thinking about the team and not yourself. I think he stopped thinking that everyone in the world was watching him, and I think it’€™s helped a lot. It’€™s been a remarkable transformation. It really has.”

Read More: Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, peter gammons,

Options Abound for the Red Sox

10.21.09 at 2:13 pm ET
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The Red Sox hold (or, in some cases, held) options for the 2010 season on seven members of the club. If exercised, the players (in most cases) can be retained for next year. If declined by the team, then the players become free agents. Here is a quick look at those players, as well as the timelines for decisions about the options:

Josh Beckett (team option): His $12.1 million option for 2010 vested when he made his 28th start of the season on Sept. 7.

Alex Gonzalez (mutual option): The club has until five days after the World Series to make a decision about whether to exercise its $6 million option for next year. If it declines the option, it must pay a $500,000 buyout. Since it is a mutual option, if the Sox do pick up the option, Gonzalez would then have two days to decide whether to accept or decline the chance to return to Boston on that one-year, $6 million deal. If he declines the option, he also voids the buyout.

Victor Martinez (team option): The Sox have until five days after the World Series to make their decision on Martinez’ $7 million option for next year. Insofar as G.M. Theo Epstein has already proclaimed Martinez the team’s primary catcher for 2010, it would appear that the catcher/first baseman need not concern himself with the possibility of a $250,000 buyout.

Takashi Saito (team option): Based on his 2009 earnings, the Sox could have retained Saito on a one-year, $6 million deal with a potential $1.5 million in incentives for 2010. Instead, the team attempted to outright him, resulting in the right-hander declaring himself a free agent, thereby removing the possibility of an option. Saito remains open to the possibility of returning as a free agent. Indeed, the attempted outright assignment was done precisely so that Saito could become a free agent who was could re-sign with the Sox this offseason.

Jason Varitek (team and player options): The Sox have until five days after the World Series to decide whether to exercise their $5 million club option on Varitek for next season. If the Sox decline their option, then Varitek would have five days from the time of being notified of the club’s decision to decide whether or not to exercise a one-year, $3 million (with the possibility of another $2 million in incentives) player option.

Billy Wagner (team option): The Sox formally agreed not to pick up Wagner’s $8 million option for the 2010 season at the time that he agreed to waive his no-trade clause. Instead, the team is on the hook for his $1 million buy-out. The real intrigue with Wagner revolves around whether he will be offered arbitration, and if he is, whether he will accept it. As Wagner told Rob Bradford, he anticipates that the Sox will make the offer and he will decline it in order to become a free agent and pursue the opportunity to close elsewhere.

Tim Wakefield (team option): The Sox have until five days after the World Series to exercise their recurring $4 million option on Wakefield. Barring any setbacks following his “successful” surgery today, the Sox would appear likely to retain the services of a player who likely ranks as one of the top two free-agent bargains in Red Sox history.

Read More: Alex Gonzalez, billy wagner, Jason Varitek, Josh Beckett

Wakefield undergoes successful surgery

10.21.09 at 1:27 pm ET
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According to a Red Sox team spokesperson, the surgery on a herniated disc in Tim Wakefield’s back was a success. The procedure was performed at Mass. General Hospital Wednesday morning. It is assumed that if the prognosis for Wakefield’s recovery remains positive — as was predicted heading into the operation — the Red Sox would pick up the 43-year-old’s $4 million option for the 2010 season. 

‘€œWake is someone that is in our plans and we hope makes starts for us next year and is a member of the rotation,’€ said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein during a press conference the day after the conclusion of the Red Sox’ season. ‘€œWe haven’€™t sat down and finalized anything. Obviously we want to see how the surgery goes and then both sides will sit down and talk.’€ 

Wakefield has said that doctors told him that the procedure would not hinder his preparation for next season. The disc had pressed on a nerves in the 43-year-old’€™s back, causing weakness in his right leg. Wakefield managed to pitch four times after making the American League All-Star team, but was left off the Red Sox’€™ American League Division Series roster. He finished his 17th major league season going 11-5 with a 4.58 ERA in 21 starts.

Infielder Nick Green was also supposed to talk to the Red Sox’ team doctors regarding whether he would need surgery to correct the slipped disc in his back which kept him out of action for the season’s last few weeks.

Manny Being Clean

10.21.09 at 9:26 am ET
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Joe Torre and Terry Francona forged a bond over the course of their time as rival managers in the American League East. Occasionally, out of public view, they would take a few moments to compare notes from their perspectives as the managers of the Yankees and Red Sox. Now that Torre is out of the American League East and managing the Dodgers, the two have taken delight in the fact that they can commune out on the field before spring training games in the Grapefruit League, no longer having to conceal their friendship from public view.

Next time they get together, apparently, they will have quite a topic to discuss.

Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez is again at the heart of some controversy for his actions during the National League Championship Series between his (and Torre’s) club and the Phillies. On Monday, Ramirez was removed from the game for defensive purposes in the bottom of the ninth inning, with the Dodgers leading 4-3. Rather than remain on the bench, Ramirez — as first reported by FoxSports.com — went into the clubhouse and showered. By the time he had emerged, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins had ripped his two-run, game-winning, walkoff double to the gap in Philadelphia, and the Dodgers had gone from tying the NLCS at two games apiece to standing on the brink of elimination, down 3-to-1 in the best-of-seven series.

“When I came out, they were turning the TVs off and everybody was coming in,” Ramirez told reporters.

Torre shrugged off the incident. Though he did concede that “it probably doesn’t look good,” he also said that it wasn’t unusual for his slugger to behave in this manner.

“Manny has so much confidence, and when we get a lead late in the game, and I’ve taken him out, whether it be for defense or we have a big lead, when we go up to shake hands after the game, he’s in his street clothes. So it’s really nothing different than he’s done before. I don’t think it’s disrespect of anything,” said Torre. “He wasn’t going anywhere until the game was over, and we can’t put him back in the game. But that’s not something I thought was unusual since individuals are all different anyway. But he’s always done that, so it’s nothing that last night was going to be any different.

“As we say, Manny is Manny. He’s a cool customer. But he certainly didn’t have any lack of respect because of that. I think the way it turned out, it probably doesn’t look good. But it’s nothing different than he had done before.”

Of course, the Dodgers will forgive Ramirez his ablution if he can help the team erase its deficit. In 2007, in his final playoff run with the Sox, it was Ramirez who suggested that “it’s not like it’s the end of the world” if the Sox were to be eliminated from the playoffs when down 3-to-1 to the Indians in the ALCS. The Sox embraced that notion, and outscored the Indians, 30-5, over the next three games en route to a World Series victory.

If the Dodgers are to do the same, then Ramirez will likely have to be a major factor. Thus far, he is hitting .250 with a homer and three singles in the first four games. Interestingly, he has yet to walk in the series, a sign that either the Phillies are not backing away from challenging him or that Ramirez is being unusually aggressive in his plate approach this postseason (or both). In that context, it is also worth noting that during the Dodgers’ first-round sweep against the Cardinals, St. Louis walked Ramirez just once, thus ending a streak of eight straight postseason series in which Ramirez had walked at least twice; his still-active streak of 16 straight postseason series with at least one walk (dating to the 1997 ALDS) is also in jeopardy.

Read More: Dodgers, Joe Torre, Manny Ramirez, Terry Francona

The Greatest Game Ever

10.20.09 at 10:59 pm ET
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The most memorable game in the history of baseball was played between the Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds 34 years ago – Oct. 21, 1975. And it was played, of course, at Fenway Park.

There is no disputing the significance of Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 American League Championship series to Red Sox fans everywhere. Winning those two games against the Yankees provided the momentum for the greatest comeback in modern sports history.

And every Red Sox fan has Oct. 27, 2004 committed to their memory for their rest of their lives as Game 4 completed a World Series sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, ending 86 years of heartbreak.

But when it comes to epic moments on the greatest stage baseball has to offer there is still one game – one night – that will live on in the hearts of baseball fans everywhere.

It was 34 years ago that Game 6 of the 1975 World Series was played between the favored Big Red Machine and the underdog Red Sox. With the Reds heading back to Boston up, 3 games-to-2, they needed just one win to end a half-decade of near-misses.

The weather would provide a dramatic and appropriate metaphor. Three days of rain delayed the contest, which began on a crisp New England autumn night and ended in the early morning hours of Oct. 22.

But it was not only how it ended on Carlton Fisk’s tantalizingly dramatic home run off the left field pole that made this game a classic. It was everything that led up to that moment at 12:34 a.m. that made Game Six the greatest game ever played in the eyes of baseball fans around the globe.

Now, there’s a book out that details that night. “Game Six-Cincinnati, Boston and the 1975 World Series: The Triumph of America’s Pastime” by Mark Frost not only addresses the game but the personalities in and around the game.

“This was epic drama on a stage I’d never witnessed before,” Frost said. “That feeling stayed with me all these years. It’s an attempt to bring back to life that entire evening, one of the greatest stories in American sports.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 1975 World Series, Carlton Fisk, Cincinnati Reds, Game 6
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