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Buster Olney on MFB: ‘I feel bad that everyone involved has to pretend that this [All-Star Game] matters’

07.16.14 at 2:31 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the controversy surrounding Adam Wainwright and Derek Jeter during the All-Star Game, Jon Lester‘€™s contract negotiations with the Red Sox and the season outlook for Boston. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

After surrendering a leadoff double to Jeter to open the All-Star Game, Wainwright admitted after his outing that he gave Jeter, who was playing in his final Midsummer Classic, a few “pitches he could handle.”

Wainwright later backtracked from his comments, adding that it was supposed to be a joke. Olney leaned in favor of Wainwright, as many pitchers have done the same thing before in an effort to honor a retiring player on the national stage.

“I kind of felt bad for [Wainwright],” Olney said. “First off, Adam Wainwright is one of the really great people in the sport. He’s honest and he’s earnest and to what he originally said, he just spoke the truth. What he originally said that he did, that’s been going on for years and years and years. … It’s a pitcher’s way of honoring a hitter.”

Olney added: “I feel bad that everyone involved has to pretend that this game matters, which is really the basic problem in this thing, where Adam can’t really come out and say, ‘Hey, it’s an exhibition game and I wanted to give Derek an opportunity to enjoy the stage,’ and instead everyone has to do all this backtracking and pretend that something happened than what actually did happen.”

While Jeter received a large amount of praise during the All-Star Game, there was no mention or ceremony for either Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn or long-time manager Don Zimmer, both of whom passed away this year. Olney said that he was shocked that there was no dedication for Gwynn during the game.

“I was surprised,” Olney said. “It’s certainly, in the case of Tony, because he’s a Hall of Famer, we see it at the Oscars every year, where they roll the videotape of all those who’ve been lost the year before in the film industry, and I was surprised at the very least that that wasn’t done on behalf of Tony.”

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‘Miracle at Fenway’: 10 years later, Red Sox’ historic 2004 season recalled fondly in new book

07.16.14 at 1:26 pm ET
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To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Red Sox‘ 2004 World Series championship team that ended an 86-year title drought, local author Saul Wisnia has come out with a new book, “Miracle at Fenway.” The book focuses on the building of the ’04 squad — following the heartbreak of the ’03 season — and recounts the memorable ’04 postseason from the viewpoint of fans, players and front-office personnel.

Miracle at Fenway book coverFollowing is an excerpt from the book, a section about Dave Roberts‘ steal in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Yankees that ignited Boston’s unforgettable comeback.

“Running Man”

The first thing he thought about was Maury Wills.

In this, the biggest moment of his baseball life, Dave Roberts was trying to focus on the topic at hand. It was the ninth inning of Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox trailed, 4-3, and Roberts stood on first base representing the tying run.

If the Sox lost, their season was over; the Yankees led the best-of-seven series three games to none, and were set to celebrate on the Fenway Park grass after just three more outs. They had the right man on the mound to get those outs in Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer of his or any generation.

The home fans were abuzz, urging on a Boston rally, but Roberts could not hear them. Inserted into the game moments earlier as a pinch runner for Kevin Millar, whose leadoff walk against Rivera had raised the masses to their feet, Roberts knew it was his feet that everybody in the ballpark and millions of TV viewers were now watching.

He was a reserve outfielder who had not played in a week, and he had been put in here for one reason: to steal second base and give the Red Sox a chance to tie the game on a single. The crowd knew it, the TV and radio analysts were pontificating on it, and the cameras were bracing for it — zoomed in and ready to capture the moment.

Roberts could feel the sense of urgency, could anticipate the eyes upon him. Still, poised on the grandest of stages, he had the clarity to think back 10 months to moments in a near-empty ballpark 3,000 miles away. Moments spent with Maury Wills.

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Read More: Dave Roberts, Mariano Rivera, Maury Wills, Miracle at Fenway

Red Sox minor league roundup: An intriguing tools combo for Manuel Margot; Yoan Aybar and the Sox’ lower levels position wave

07.16.14 at 12:30 pm ET
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Outfielder Manuel Margot has eight homers and 30 steals in 2014. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

Outfielder Manuel Margot has eight homers and 30 steals in 2014. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Tuesday:






– Outfielder Manuel Margot went 1-for-2 with a stolen base, his 30th of the year. The 19-year-old is one of 24 players in all of minor league baseball with 30 or more steals. Of those two dozen players, Margot is tied for the lead in home runs with eight. Margot is hitting .265 with a .331 OBP and .418 slugging mark.

Margot was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fourth inning, after he’d been involved in a number of plays in the top of the fourth. The reasons were not immediately clear. Read the rest of this entry »

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Giancarlo Stanton on The Bradfo Show: ‘Rumors are rumors’

07.16.14 at 10:31 am ET
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Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton joined Rob Bradford on The Bradfo Show to discuss transactions and trade rumors. To hear the interview, go to the The Bradfo Show audio on demand page.

Giancarlo Stanton

Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton has been involved in a number of trade rumors throughout his career, including some with the Red Sox.

Stanton said the first time he was involved in trade rumors was as a minor leaguer in 2008 when he was discussed as a potential trade chip in a deal for Manny Ramirez.

“I actually didn’t understand the business side of it as much or pretty much at all at that point so I was like, ‘Wait a minute, me for Manny Ramirez. This makes no sense. That can’t be even close to true,’ ” Stanton said.

“As I grew up and got older I understood how it works a little better and understood that was a possibility.”

Stanton said he first found out about the rumors on the Internet.

“It was actually pretty flattering to be compared to that caliber at that time,” he said. “It’s a huge risk when you do that for a minor league guy that’s never touched foot in the big leagues.”

Stanton said the first person he contacted after he saw the rumors was his agent.

“It’s usually something me and my agent talk about,” he said. “That’s the easiest route to know legitimacy or not, so that’s pretty simple. You talk to him on what matters then get back to what I’m supposed to do.”

That was only the first of multiple trade rumors Stanton’s name was in. He said he gets sick of being asked about them.

“Rumors are rumors, but then again the route of all truths could be some rumors, so you never know,” Stanton said.

Stanton’s first time at Fenway Park came in an interleague series in 2012.

“It was kind of like a fantasy field,” he said. “It’s like one of those fields you design in a video game and kind of just play in. It’s different seeing something for so many years on TV then walking into it. That was the awe that I was in.”

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Ken Davidoff on D&C: ‘Derek Jeter is the No. 3 Yankee of all-time’

07.16.14 at 10:29 am ET
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New York Post baseball columnist Ken Davidoff joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss Derek Jeter‘s treatment at the All-Star Game and his standing among all-time Yankees greats. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Jeter went 2-for-2 in what was a celebration of his final All-Star Game on Tuesday night. The Yankees shortstop led off the game with a double off starting pitcher Adam Wainwright. Wainwright said afterward that he gave Jeter a pitch to hit out of respect, inspiring Davidoff to write a column saying that Wainwright should’ve covered up for Jeter when asked about it.

“My point was, it’s fine he gave him one to hit, he just shouldn’t have admitted to it because then it’s kind of like, ‘I was trying to help out the old man,’ ” Davidoff said.

When asked why Jeter deserved a grooved pitch, Davidoff said, “For the same reason Cal Ripken Jr. did 13 years ago, because when a legend, a future Hall of Famer, retires, because there’s no harm in grooving him a pitch so he looks good in his final moment on the national stage.”

Jeter scored one batter later and the American League went on to win 5-3 to earn home-field advantage in the World Series. Serving up a grooved pitch to Jeter on Tuesday night could prove consequential for the National League club in the World Series.

“I agree 100 percent,” Davidoff said, continuing to defend his argument by saying, “I don’t care about the National League. That’s my opinion. It’s a free country, isn’t it?

“If David Ortiz decides to announce his retirement in advance and he gets the same kind of love and farewell tour that Derek Jeter gets, and David Ortiz would deserve such a farewell tour, I would think he deserves a grooved pitch in the All-Star Game as well,” he said.

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Troy Tulowitzki: Shortstops view move to third ‘as a punch in the gut’

07.16.14 at 10:10 am ET
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Troy Tulowitzki said that he would react strongly to any suggestions that he move from short to third. (AP)

Troy Tulowitzki said that he would react strongly to any suggestions that he move from short to third. (AP)

MINNEAPOLIS — There was a time when some doubted whether Troy Tulowitzki could stay at shortstop. He is a 6-foot-3 giant for the position, and certainly has the size of a corner. It was a perception battle that he was intent on fighting when he entered pro ball as a 2005 first-rounder of the Rockies.

“Coming out of college, I was a bigger shortstop and they said, ‘We might have to move this guy to third,’ ” said Tulowitzki. “Hopefully I’ve proved the critics wrong who wanted to move me, but my plan is to always stay there and not move.”

The 29-year-old is now a two-time Gold Glover at short, and his production from the position has made him a perennial All-Star. He’s played every day of his big league career at short.

But in a year that has seen Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts move from short to third, Tulowitzki’s outlook on how he might view a position change were noteworthy.

“Moreso than any other position on the field, shortstops take [the identity created by their position] to heart. When guys get moved to third, they take it as a punch in the gut,” said Tulowitzki. “I would do the same thing. I want to stay at shortstop. I want to be there for a long time, hopefully my whole career. Read the rest of this entry »

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American League celebrates Derek Jeter with All-Star Game win

07.15.14 at 11:36 pm ET
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MINNEAPOLIS — Game 1 will be back in the American League city.

The AL once again claimed home-field advantage in the World Series thanks to its 5-3 win over the National League in the 85th All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Target Field.

(For a complete recap, click here.)

Winning the MVP was Mike Trout (2-for-3), despite Derek Jeter claiming a pair of hits on his night.

The American League jumped on the board with three runs in the first inning off of National League starter Adam Wainwright, who allowed an RBI triple to Trout and a two-run homer off the bat of Miguel Cabrera. In 19 starts this season, the St. Louis righty has allowed just four earned runs in the opening frame.

Wainwright kicked things off by admittedly grooving a fastball to leadoff hitter Derek Jeter, who took advantage of the offering by notching a leadoff double. (“I was going to give him a couple of pipe shots,” Wainwright said. “He deserved it.”)

Jeter, who was replaced by AL manager John Farrell before a pitch could be thrown in the top of the fourth, also singled. The double was Jeter’s first extra-base hit in the All-Star Game since 2001, and marked the third time he came away with multiple hits in the game.

Jeter finishes his All-Star run with a .481 batting average (13-for-27), ranking fifth all-time of any player with a minimum of 10 at-bats.

Trout’s fifth-inning RBI double put the American League ahead for good. He finished with a pair of hits, joining Jeter and Aramis Ramirez as the only All-Stars with multiple hits.

The National League stormed back in the second inning against Red Sox starter Jon Lester, who allowed three straight hits for a pair of NL runs in the lefty’s only inning.

Red Sox closer Koji Uehara struck out Cincinnati’s Devin Mesoraco on four pitches, his only batter of the night, to end the sixth inning.

(To see comments from Lester and Uehara regarding their outings, click here.)

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