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Reds feel ‘due’ after Game 1 ‘nightmare’

10.07.10 at 9:20 am ET
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PHILADELPHIA — Dusty Baker has seen a lot of history in his days as a major league manager.

Baker was on-deck when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth‘s home run record on April 8, 1974. He watched his San Francisco Giants experience heartbreak in the 2002 World Series when they lost a 5-0 lead in Game 6. And he was in the dugout the next year managing the Chicago Cubs in 2003 when Steve Bartman – not Moises Alou – caught a foul pop near the left field wall at Wrigley Field in Game 6 of the NLCS, just five outs away from Chicago’s first trip to the World Series since 1945.

So he’s certainly seen both sides of history before. That should help as he readies his team for Friday night’s Game 2 in South Philly. What he saw Wednesday in Philadelphia certainly qualifies as Roy Halladay became the second pitcher in MLB postseason history to throw a no-hitter with a 4-0 gem over his Cincinnati Reds.

Get over it? Baker thinks his team certainly can.

“Well, I mean, you have no choice,” he said. “It still counts as a loss, but that was a very dramatic loss. That is the best pitched game I’ve seen since I’ve been going to the playoffs and the World Series. You have no choice but to bounce back. You’ve got to put that one behind us. Figure we got beat by a great performance tonight.

“The thing about it is, you know, I don’t think he threw anything down the heart of the plate, everything was on the corners and moving. I don’t know what his percentage was, but it looked like he threw 90 percent for first pitch strikes. Any time you do that with the stuff he has, then he can go to work on you after that.”

Baker managed his Reds to a 91-71 record and the NL Central Division title. He was rewarded Monday with a two-year contract extension.

Was Baker even thinking of this possibility before the game with Halladay on the mound?

“No, if I was thinking of this scenario, it would be like a nightmare, and I don’t like having nightmares. This is the last thing on my mind. You know, last time I think we hit him pretty good in Cincinnati. He made the proper adjustments. He was working very quickly. No, like I said, you don’t want to get beat, number one, and you hate getting shutout, number two, and even worse, no hits.

“One thing’s for sure, we’re due to get a lot of hits after this game.”

The flip side of the experience coin is Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, whose dramatic homer leading off the ninth inning eight days earlier gave his Reds the division title, feels the Reds can bounce back. But Bruce also admitted something else. The Reds were stunned by what hit them – or more to the point – what they didn’t hit on Wednesday.

“You have to have a short memory,” said Bruce, whose fifth-inning walk was the only thing between Halladay and a perfect game. “None of these guys are going to be easy. It’s the playoffs and we’re all here for a reason. There’s a little shock factor right now I think but I fully expect us to be ready to go the next game.”

Bruce – in only his second full season at the age of 23 – has become a true spokesman for one of the landmark franchises in the sport. And what he said after Wednesday night’s game spoke to why even teammates 10 and 15 years older respect him so much.

“Honestly I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” Bruce said of the Reds’ psyche. “We’re all grown men here and we can be professional enough to move on and get ready for the next game ahead of us because, and I’m not discounting anything Roy did, at the end of the day, it’s just a loss.”

Read More: Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Dusty Baker, MLB

J.P. Ricciardi surprised teams didn’t step up to get Roy Halladay

10.07.10 at 9:02 am ET
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J.P. Ricciardi was surprised that teams didn't meet the asking price for Roy Halladay in 2009. (AP)

The Red Sox reportedly offered five players for Roy Halladay when he first hit the market midway through the 2009 season. It wasn’t enough.

Now we flash forward to Wednesday night in Philadelphia, where Halladay could not only be found pitching in the National League Division Series with the Phillies, but also tossing the second-ever postseason no-hitter, and first since Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

What has time told us: Whatever the investment needed to secure Hallday — which in the case of Philadelphia was Cliff Lee (who was entering the final year of his contract), along with minor league prospects Travis D’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, and Michael Taylor – it probably would have been worth it. Not only was it Halladay’s second no-hitter this season — which included a 21-10 record, 2.44 ERA, and 250 2/3 innings — but now, for the first time, the 33-year-old has shown his value when it comes to pitching in October.

J.P. Ricciardi, the former Blue Jays general manager who first fielded offers for Halladay in ’09, said the payoff shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“To be honest, I really was surprised,” noted Ricciardi when asked if he was taken off guard by the fact no team gave up the kind of package the Blue Jays had originally asked for.

“I think a lot of it was that maybe we appreciated him a lot more because we saw him do this. Maybe pitching in Canada, he didn’t get as much attention. I’m really happy that people across the country are getting a chance to see what he’s all about. We kept sitting there saying, ‘This is Roy Freaking Halladay! Do people know?’ Not only will you have him for this year, but you’ll have him for next year. And whomever trades for him, he’s probably going to go to a place he’s going to want to stay. There’s no way we’re going to settle for one prospect, or 1 1/2 prospects. We’ve got to get a bunch of prospects because we’re dealing someone really, really special here.

“There’s a handful of guys like that in the game. [CC] Sabathia, Felix Hernandez, him. But in fairness to all those other guys, Doc has been doing it for a long time. We kept sitting there saying, ‘For us to move this guy we have to get something back that is really going to be worth it.’ And we still wouldn’t get back what we’re giving up.”

The Red Sox moved on from Halladay, instead choosing to hold on to their prospects and sign free agent pitcher John Lackey to a five-year, $82.5 million deal. At the Lackey press conference, Sox general manager Theo Epstein said the following:

“We had interest in Halladay dating back to the trade deadline and early in the offseason. Well before [Halladay] was moved, it was clear he wasn’t going to be a factor for us based on the asking price, which is reasonable. I think [Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous] did a really good job. We weren’t prepared to pony up the prospects in addition to the salary that would have been required.

“We’re in a pretty good spot now. If you look at what we’ve done, I do think we’ve improved the 2010 red sox. I think we’ve improved our long-term outlook. We’ve added draft picks, we hope to add more draft picks – I think we probably will – and we haven’t touched our prospect inventory at all. All of those different factors contribute to a healthy organization, what your team looks like next year, what it looks like in the future, what your commitments look like, what your draft-pick bounty in next draft, and how many prospects you’re able to retain, at least ones you believe in. In all of those areas, we feel like this is a pretty good solution for us.”

While it was Halladay’s first experience in the postseason, the fact that the righty turned in a stellar outing when it counted the most didn’t surprise Ricciardi as he watched the game with his two sons in their Worcester-area home.

Ricciardi’s confidence in how Halladay would perform on the big stage stemmed from what he did when pitching against the Red Sox and the Yankees in their home parks. Since 2004, the righty totaled a 3.86 ERA at Fenway Park, while notching a 3.08 ERA during that span in Yankee Stadium.

“He’s not going to be afraid, he’s not going to back off, he’s not going to be shy,” Ricciardi noted. “If you watch the game, he had great movement early in the game. When guys are fouling pitches off of him, you know his stuff is really good. He just had great stuff.

“He’s so prepared. I guaranteed there was nothing left uncovered going into the game. This isn’t a rookie going to the game. He’s a veteran player who has pitched in Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, a lot of big games. I’m not surprised at all. Obviously, I didn’t think he would go out and throw a no-hitter, but I’m not surprised he competed as well as he did.”

The image of Halladay, who needed just 104 pitches to finish off the Reds in Philadelphia’s 4-0 victory in Game of of their NLDS, also didn’t take Ricciardi off guard. The starter (who issued just one walk) showed little emotion until he secured the the final out.

“He doesn’t get too high, he doesn’t get too low. He stays within his plan. He’s not going to get rattled by the situation,” the current ESPN analyst said. “The clinching game, he wasn’t rattled by that. He pitched this game, he wasn’t rattled by that. I think the scary thing for me would be is now he has a taste of it, watch out, because he’s going to want the whole enchilada. It’s was a typical Doc day in terms of coming in and punching in. But to realize that he and Don Larsen are the only two guys to do this, that’s incredible.

“Any given night you wouldn’t be surprised if this guy did amazing things. But I think the most important thing for me, that will always will stick in my head with Doc, is how he competed when we faced the Yankees and the Red Sox. He didn’t give an inch on any of those games. I think that’s what made him a better pitcher, pitching against better competition.”

Doc orders up history in playoff no-no of Reds

10.06.10 at 7:48 pm ET
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Roy Halladay became the second pitcher ever to throw a no-hitter in the MLB postseason. (AP)

PHILADELPHIA – Not bad for your first taste of postseason action ever.

After giving his all for 10 seasons with a mediocre Toronto Blue Jays club, Roy Halladay made the most of his major league postseason debut on Wednesday night.

“Just try and win,” Halladay said in just about as much of an understated manner as possible. “It was a lot of fun. It’s just one of those special things I think you’ll always remember. But the best part about it is the playoffs take priority, and that’s pretty neat for me to be able to go out and win a game like that and know there’s more to come for us and more to accomplish. So that makes it a lot of fun.”

The key to Halladay’s success over the year has been his pregame ritual of zoning in on the job at hand. And, in his first postseason start – that didn’t change on Wednesday night.

“It was pretty normal, really,” he said. “I think you try and disconnect yourself, I think, from the emotions a little bit. Knowing that you’ve prepared yourself, you’re ready, and you try to go out and execute your plan.

“I think once the game started, I got out there and I felt like I was able to do that. I wasn’t thinking about all that stuff, first playoffs or any of that. It was go out and try and execute a plan, and that made it a lot easier. But it’s been fun for me. It’s been a challenge that I look forward to. Excited, I guess, is a better word to describe it than nervous. I was excited. It was a lot of fun to look forward to pitching in this game.”

One of the stars of the 2004 postseason for the Red Sox, Orlando Cabrera thought Halladay was getting a generous strike zone all day.

“I thought it was good,” said Halladay, who threw 104 pitches, including 79 strikes. “Any time you’re getting strikes I think it’s good. That’s something that I’ve never tried to concern myself a lot with. There’s going to be pitches you’re going to get, there’s going to be pitches you don’t get. I think if you let that bother you one way or the other, I think it can cause you problems.

I felt like really it was a pretty fair zone. From what I saw in between innings, they were calling the same pitches that I was getting. It’s one of those things that I think there’s always going to be certain cases where people aren’t happy with what’s called, but that’s part of the game. It’s always been part of the game.

The very, very good Doctor on this night needed just 2 hours, 34 minutes to record the second no-hitter in MLB postseason history and the first since Don Larsen‘s perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

In striking out eight and allowing only a two-out walk to Jay Bruce with the bases loaded in the fifth, Halladay – a trade target of the Red Sox leading up to the 2009 trade deadline – jumped from great to legendary with his 4-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park.

The Blue Jays dangled Halladay as trade bait both at the 2009 trade deadline and again in the offseason. The Red Sox were among the many teams to express interest in the right-hander, but he ended up going to the Phillies in a three-team megadeal. Philadelphia received Halladay — whom it signed to a three-year, $60 million contract extension that includes a $20 million vesting option for a fourth season — and minor leaguers Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, Juan Ramirez and cash.

The Phillies gave up Cliff Lee along with minor league prospects Travis D’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, and Michael Taylor.

On Wednesday night, it is safe to say that the Phillies felt no buyer’s remorse.

Halladay also came up with the game’s biggest hit, a two-out, RBI single in the second to make the score, 2-0. He was certainly taking care of business on Wednesday night.

Halladay needed just 104 pitches (79 strikes) to complete his historic feat. The longtime Blue Jays ace (and 2003 American League Cy Young Award winner) was making his first ever playoff start, after having never pitched in the playoffs during more than a decade in Toronto.

But this is hardly new territory for Halladay. Consider:

- Halladay threw a perfect game earlier this season when he retired all 27 Florida Marlins in South Florida on May 29. Halladay became the first pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1973 to toss two no-hitters in the same calendar year.

- In Halladay’s second career start – against the Detroit Tigers on Sept. 27, 1998, he came within one out of tossing what would have been the third no-hitter ever pitched on the final day of a regular season.

Read More: Cincinnati Reds, don larsen, Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Halladay

Lucchino: Resources won’t be diverted from Sox

10.06.10 at 4:52 pm ET
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Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino said in a statement that the purchase by New England Sports Ventures of the Liverpool Football Club in England will not lead to diminished investment in the Red Sox. Despite the $477 million purchase price of Liverpool, Luccino suggested, the organization’s financial commitment to the Red Sox will not diminish. To the contrary, coming off a year in which the team’s payroll set a new franchise record, Lucchino vowed that the club “will not divert our resources or focus on the job at hand – winning a third World Series for the loyal members of Red Sox Nation.”

Here is the complete release:

Today’s announcement that New England Sports Ventures (NESV) has reached an understanding with the Liverpool Football Club Board of Directors to buy that historic Club is a tremendous development for the NESV partners; and, I predict, for the passionate supporters of Liverpool Football Club.

To be clear, while it is exciting for all of us as global sports fans, this is an undertaking of the NESV partnership, which owns the Boston Red Sox, New England Sports Network, Roush Fenway Racing, and Fenway Sports Group. It is not an undertaking of the Boston Red Sox and will not divert our resources or focus on the job at hand – winning a third World Series for the loyal members of Red Sox Nation.

Those of us in the Red Sox front office, starting with me, Theo, and the baseball management team, share a single-minded focus on the baseball team, and we will remain in our roles and committed to extending the extraordinary and winning traditions of the Boston Red Sox. We want to assure our fans that our work and our Red Sox resources will continue to be devoted to fielding excellent teams in 2011 and beyond, teams worthy of our fans’ avid support.

Read More: Larry Lucchino, liverpool football club, new england sports ventures,

Poor last start cost Lester title of top lefty

10.06.10 at 4:28 pm ET
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Jon Lester finished behind Tampa Bay's David Price for the title of the top left-handed pitcher in the majors. (AP)

Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester‘s poor last start of the season ended up costing him recognition as the best left-handed pitcher in the majors. As a result of his four-inning, eight-run yield against the White Sox in his final outing of the 2010 season, Lester not only fell just short of the 20-win mark, but also saw the Spahn Award — recognizing the best left-handed pitcher in the majors based on wins, ERA and strikeouts — go to David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Up to that start, a spokesperson for the award said, Lester had been leading the field. Instead, the 26-year-old Red Sox ace finished the year with a 19-9 record, 3.25 ERA and 225 strikeouts. Price went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA and 188 strikeouts, while CC Sabathia — who won the Spahn Award in each of the past three seasons — was 21-7 with a 3.18 ERA and 197 punchouts.

“What a race to the end for the Warren Spahn Award,” Greg Spahn, son of Warren Spahn, said. “Sabathia looked like he was going to finish strong and win another Spahn Award. Then here came Jon Lester and David Price, and it all came down to their last starts.”

The Spahn Award is named after Hall of Famer Warren Spahn, whose 363 career wins are the most ever by a left-handed pitcher. Spahn broke into the majors in 1942 with the Boston Braves, remaining with the Braves franchise (after their move to Milwaukee) for 20 years before concluding his big league career in 1965 with the Mets and Giants.

Though he did not claim the Spahn Award, Lester’s 19 victories were the most by a Red Sox southpaw since Mel Parnell had 21 wins in 1953, and his 225 strikeouts matched the franchise record by a left-hander, set by Lester in 2009.

Read More: C.C. Sabathia, David Price, Jon Lester, warren spahn

Sox owners to buy Liverpool soccer team

10.06.10 at 6:59 am ET
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English Premiere League soccer team Liverpool FC anounced Wednesday that it has accepted a purchase offer by New England Sports Ventures, the parent company of the Red Sox. Liverpool already is owned by Americans — Tom Hicks (owner of the Dallas Stars and former owner of the Texas Rangers) and George Gillett Jr. (former owner of the Montreal Canadiens) — who are embroiled in a legal dispute with the team’s board of directors.

Said LFC chairman Martin Broughtond: “I am delighted that we have been able to successfully conclude the sale process which has been thorough and extensive.

“The Board decided to accept NESV’s proposal on the basis that it best met the criteria we set out originally for a suitable new owner. NESV’s philosophy is all about winning and they have fully demonstrated that at Red Sox.

“We’ve met them in Boston, London and Liverpool over several weeks and I am immensely impressed with what they have achieved and with their vision for Liverpool Football Club.

“By removing the burden of acquisition debt, this offer allows us to focus on investment in the team. I am only disappointed that the owners have tried everything to prevent the deal from happening and that we need to go through legal proceedings in order to complete the sale.”

Read More: George Gillett Jr., Tom Hicks,

‘The PawSox Family mourns this great loss’

10.04.10 at 4:50 pm ET
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Here is the official release from the Pawtucket Red Sox on the death of owner Ben Mondor, the 85-year-old who was credited with saving the Triple-A franchise that he purchased in 1977:

Ben Mondor passed away peacefully Sunday evening at his home in Warwick Neck, RI at the age of 85. He is survived by his wife Madeleine.

The public is invited to a celebration Mass to be held on Thursday, October 7 at 10:00 am at the Cathedral of Saints Peter & Paul on 30 Fenner St. in downtown Providence. Burial services will be private.

“We have lost a true Rhode Island treasure and the entire PawSox Family mourns this great loss,” said PawSox president Mike Tamburro. “Ben was a man who brought people together – whether it be at the business table or the ballpark. His love for the fans and the community was unsurpassed.”

At the time of his passing, Mr. Mondor had just completed his 34th year as PawSox owner. In 1977, after having retired from the corporate business world, Ben acquired the “Rhode Island” Red Sox, the Triple-A International League affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, by the National Association of Professional Baseball. The organization was bankrupt and had been deprived of its membership in professional baseball.

During the next 34 years, Mr. Mondor turned what was once one of the worst franchises in minor league baseball into one of the most successful in all of baseball as over 14 and a half million fans attended a game at McCoy Stadium while Ben owned the club. Under Mr. Mondor’s leadership the PawSox went from drawing 70,000 fans in 1977 to well over 600,000 fans in six straight seasons from 2004-2009 (an attendance increase of nearly ten times since that first year). The PawSox established their all-time franchise attendance record of 688,421 fans in 2005. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ben mondor, Pawtucket Red Sox,
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