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World Series Game 7 was most watched baseball game in 25 years

11.03.16 at 1:24 pm ET
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This was the World Series that got sports fans focused back on baseball. So it should come as no surprise that Game 7 offered the highest television rating the sport has seen in 25 years.

The overnight rating for the Cubs’ extra-inning game was 25.2, nearly double the 2014 Game 7 between the Giants and Royals.

Locally, 71 percent of the people watching TV in Chicago had the game on, with 61 percent of the Cleveland television viewers tuning in.
For coverage on the World Series and all things baseball, go to the Red Sox team page by clicking here.

Will this postseason change how we look at relievers? Bill James has some thoughts on that

11.03.16 at 12:02 pm ET
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Bill James

Bill James

So, what will be the legacy of this World Series? For many, the conversation has to start with how relievers were used, particularly by Indians manager Terry Francona.

For the third postseason in a row, you have a pitching staff led by the bullpen and not the rotation. And this time there was a pitcher, Andrew Miller, who pitched more innings than any reliever ever had throughout a run through the playoffs (19 1/3 innings).

So, will this change how we look at how teams should use their bullpens? The man who was at the forefront of prioritizing using high-leverage relievers outside the ninth inning, Bill James, has some thoughts on the matter.

In an email exchange with WEEI.com, the Red Sox’ Sr. Advisor to Baseball Operations gives his take on what Francona did this postseason, what it might mean to baseball going forward, and why there is a misperception when it comes to how the Red Sox’ approached their “bullpen-by-committee” in 2003:


I would say generally not to a large extent, probably. People have ALWAYS done things differently in the post-season than they did in the regular season, for good reasons. The schedule is different; you have a lot more days off. The importance of the games is such that you don’t worry as much about the risk of injury from overuse, and, more importantly, the manager in the regular season has to worry about keeping the entire roster involved and productive. You know you’re going to need 12 pitchers to get to the end of the season, and you know that that 12th pitcher isn’t going to be there for you in August if you don’t let him pitch in May, so you have to use him in May. You don’t worry about stuff like that in the post season; the only thing that counts now is now.

In the 7th game of the 1924 World Series, the American League team started a right-handed pitcher, Curly Ogden, let him get one batter out, then switched to a left-hander, George Mogridge. A left-handed hitter (Bill Terry) had been killing them, and they were trying to drive Terry, who was a rookie and being platooned, out of the game. It worked; John McGraw took Bill Terry out of the game, the AL manager switched back to a right-hander, and the Senators won the game.

But did this have any impact on games the next season or the next season? None at all. It was something you can do in a “special” game; it was not something you can do in an ordinary game.

Read the rest of this entry »

Epic World Series Game 7 finishes with Cubs ending 108-year championship drought

11.03.16 at 12:48 am ET
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Kyle Schwarber and the Cubs are World Series champs. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Todays Spors)

Kyle Schwarber and the Cubs are World Series champs. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Todays Spors)

It was trending toward 109 years of agony for the Cubs, but then Ben Zobrist came up.

With one out in the 10th inning, Zobrist rifled an RBI double down the left field line off reliever Bryan Shaw to give Chicago it’s game-winning RBI, and the Cubs their first world championship since 1908. The Cubs added another run in the 10th on Miguel Montero’s bases-loaded single, securing the 8-7, Game 7 win over the Indians.

The two-run 10th inning came immediately after a 17-minute rain delay, which halted the game immediately following the last out of the ninth. Chicago managed the final out when Mike Montgomery came on to retire Michael Martinez on a slow roller to third baseman Kris Bryant.

The Indians did threaten in the 10th, with Rajai Davis ripping a two-out, RBI single against Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr.

An hour before Zobrist’s single, Davis entered himself into World Series history.

With two outs in the eighth inning, Davis pulled an Aroldis Chapman fastball just over the left field fence for a game-tying, two-out, two-run homer. It completed a rally against Chapman which saw the closer greeted by an RBI double from Brandon Guyer after the righty came on to replace Jon Lester with one on and two outs in the eighth.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, the 365-foot home run wouldn’t have been out of two major league parks, one of which is Wrigley Field. It was the latest game-tying home run for any World Series Game 7.

Chapman’s ineffective outing came after he threw a combined 62 pitches over his last two outings, including 20 offerings in the Cubs’ Game 6 blowout.

Prior to the Davis’ heroics, the difference appeared to be the ineffectiveness of two of this postseason’s best pitchers, the Indians’ Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller.

Kluber, who came into the game having totaled an 0.89 ERA in his five playoff starts, gave up four runs in four innings before giving way to Miller. The lefty reliever would allow two runs over 2 1/3 innings, including home runs to Javier Baez and David Ross.

Chicago pitchers, meanwhile, seemed to be pitching just well enough, with starter Kyle Hendricks lasting 4 2/3 innings, giving up a pair of runs. His replacement, Lester, did let two runs to score on a wild pitch, with both Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis coming home on the errant offering to cut the Cubs’ lead to two runs in the fifth inning.

Hendricks, the majors ERA leader during the regular season, was pulled after just 62 pitches.

It was just the fourth time in Lester’s career he had come in out of the bullpen, having last served as a reliever during the 2007 American League Championship Series. He would ultimately last three innings, giving up two runs in the 55-pitch outing.

But the Cubs immediately got one of the runs back thanks to a home run by Ross, who came into the game upon Lester’s entrance.

Chicago jumped out to a lead out of the gate, with Dexter Fowler leading off the game with a homer over the center field fence. The Indians would tie things in the third inning after Santana singled in Coco Crisp, who had led off the frame with a double.

The Cubs came back with back-to-back two-run innings, with Baez’s leadoff homer in the fifth highlighting the attack. The blast would drive Kluber from the game.

For a complete recap, click here.

Red Sox ticket prices are going up

11.02.16 at 9:51 am ET
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It's going to be more expensive to go to Fenway Park in 2017. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

It’s going to be more expensive to go to Fenway Park in 2017. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

For the first time since 2014, the Red Sox are raising ticket prices. Here’s what the organization had to say in a statement released Wednesday morning:

The Red Sox today announced that ticket prices for the 2017 season at Fenway Park will rise by an average of 2.9 percent. The increase primarily affects seats closest to the field in select seating areas.  
Prices will rise between $1 and $5 in the following sections: Field Box, Loge Box, Pavilion Box, Pavilion Reserved, Grandstand, Outfield Grandstand (Rows 1-10), Right Field Box, Right Field Roof Box and Terrace, Bleachers, and Upper Bleachers.
Prices in other seating areas will remain unchanged, including the Budweiser Right Field Roof Deck, Grandstand (Sections 13-27 & 28-31, Rows 11-18), Outfield Grandstand (Rows 11-19), and all Standing Room.
In 2017 the first five rows of the Field Box, first ten rows of the Grandstand and Outfield Grandstand, first nineteen rows of Bleacher Sections 40-43, and Rows A-N in the Right Field Box will rise slightly more than rows further from the field in those sections.
“We appreciate the steadfast commitment of our loyal fans and hope to reward their dedication by fielding a winning team that plays deep into October each season.” said Red Sox President Sam Kennedy.  “Our desire to bring another World Series Championship to Boston is as strong as ever, and the contribution and dedication of our fans are what allow us to remain competitive each and every year.”   
The lowest priced ticket to a game at Fenway Park in 2017 is $10, and the Red Sox will continue to offer special reduced pricing for students, clergy, veterans, and active duty members of the military. Tickets for high school and college students will again be available for $9, and the Kid Nation Program, a free program for those 14 and under, will continue to include a Red Sox ticket at no charge in 2017.
Including this year’s increase, the club has held ticket prices for three of the past six seasons and four of the past nine. The average annual increase since 2008 is 1.6 percent per year. 
A breakdown of prices for each non-premium seating category is attached. Seats in existing categories located in rows closer to the field are marked with a red asterisk. Also attached is a list of 2017 home games by tier. 

The last time the Red Sox raised ticket prices by this amount was following the 2013 season, when the average price increase was 4.8 percent. The following year there was a freeze on any increase, with last offseason seeing a 1.4 percent bump.

Cubs roll over Indians to force Game 7, paving way for Corey Kluber vs. Kyle Hendricks

11.01.16 at 11:40 pm ET
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Addison Russell celebrates his three-run homer Tuesday night. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports)

Addison Russell celebrates his three-run homer Tuesday night. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports)

The Indians’ postseason momentum has come to a screeching halt.

With their 9-3, Game 6 win Tuesday night in Cleveland, the Cubs have forced a decisive Game 7. Now it will be Kyle Hendricks starting for the Cubs against Indians ace Corey Kluber in a winner-take-all showdown Wednesday night.

No team has comeback to win a World Series after carrying a 3-1 deficit since the Royals accomplished the feat against the Cardinals in 1985. It marks the third time in the last six seasons that the World Series has gone seven games.

Kluber’s outing will mark just the third time since 1991 that a pitcher has made three starts in a World Series, following Arizona’s Curt Schilling (2001) and St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter (2011). In his five postseason starts, Kluber has totaled an 0.89 ERA while winning four games.

Hendricks, the National League’s ERA champ, has also performed well throughout the postseason, managing a 1.31 ERA in his four starts. Hendricks hasn’t given up a run in either of his last two appearances, going 4 1/3 innings in what would result in a 1-0 Cubs loss.

Game 6 didn’t offer the intrigue most of the series has supplied, with Chicago jumping out to a 7-0 lead after three innings.

The Cubs got things going with three runs in the first inning, all coming with two outs. Kris Bryant got things going with a solo home run, with Addison Russell’s two-run double capping the scoring in the frame.

Russell came through again in the third, greeting reliever Dan Otero with a grand slam. Anthony Rizzo supplied a two-run home run in the ninth inning to cap the scoring, and give the Cubs their first three-home game in a World Series in the organization’s history.

Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin lasted just 2 1/3 innings, giving up six runs. His counterpart, Jake Arietta, surrendered two runs on three hits over 5 2/3 innings to earn the win.

For a complete recap, click here.

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, right fielder Mookie Betts win Fielding Bible awards

10.31.16 at 11:26 am ET
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Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia

John Dewan’s Fielding Bible has become the standard for defensive ratings, and in his end-of-season awards, two Red Sox were judged the best in baseball at their positions.

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia and right fielder Mookie Betts earned spots on the Fielding Bible’s 11th annual awards after tremendous seasons with the glove.

Pedroia won the award for the fourth time, edging out Ian Kinsler of the Tigers, who won last year. Pedroia and Kinsler tied for the lead in baseball with 12 defensive runs saved, and one of them will win the Gold Glove shortly.

Betts, meanwhile, led all of baseball with 32 defensive runs saved at maybe the most competitive position in the game, because White Sox right fielder Adam Eaton had a tremendous defensive year as well, saving 22 runs.

Both Betts and Pedroia, as well as center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., are finalists for the Gold Glove. This is the first time the Red Sox have had two Fielding Bible winners.


Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Field Bible awards, mookie betts,

Unthinkable happened again Sunday night: Baseball beat football in TV ratings

10.31.16 at 10:39 am ET
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Is this the World Series that is saving baseball? If nothing else, it’s giving the sport a bit of a nudge forward.

With World Series television ratings strong throughout the first four games, many believed the true test would come Sunday night when Game 5 had to go head-to-head with a marquee NFL matchup, the Eagles vs. Cowboys.

Well, even with what ultimately resulted in an entertaining, overtime win for Dallas, the Cubs vs. Indians prevailed again …

David Price takes subtle shot at Boston fans after Twitter postseason criticism

10.31.16 at 10:07 am ET
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David Price once again didn’t take kindly to social media criticism.

Responding to a tweet referencing Price’s struggles in the postseason, the Red Sox pitcher responded, taking a thinly-veiled shot at the negative nature of Boston fans in the process.

Price struggled in his American League Division Series start against Cleveland this season, giving up five runs over 3 1/3 innings in the Game 2 outing. For his career, the lefty is 0-8 with a 5.74 ERA as a starter in the playoffs.

World Series Game 5: Cubs, Aroldis Chapman hang on to beat Indians, remain alive

10.30.16 at 11:56 pm ET
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Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44) celebrates after scoring on a single by Addison Russell in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday. (Jerry Lai/USA Today Sports)

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44) celebrates after scoring in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday. (Jerry Lai/USA Today Sports)

The Cubs live to fight another day, and the World Series is heading back to Cleveland.

Behind six strong innings from Jon Lester and the longest save of Aroldis Chapman’s career, the Cubs avoided elimination with a 3-2 victory over the Indians in Game 5 of the Fall Classic before a packed house at Wrigley Field.

This one wasn’t decided until Chapman struck out Jose Ramirez, who had homered earlier in the game, to complete the eight-out save. The out perfectly bookended his night, which began with a punchout of Ramirez with the tying run on second base.

That made a winner of Lester, who allowed two runs in six innings, striking out five. Lester improved to 4-1 in five career World Series starts.

The Cubs got all of their offense in the fourth against a typically stingy Indians pitching staff. Trailing 1-0 thanks to Ramirez’s second-inning homer off of Lester, Kris Bryant led off the fourth with a solo homer to tie it.

Anthony Rizzo doubled, Ben Zobrist singled, and Addison Russell gave the Cubs the lead with an infield single. Old friend David Ross, in perhaps the final game of his career, provided an insurance run with a sacrifice fly. He also threw out Francisco Lindor trying to steal in the sixth after Lindor’s RBI single had drawn the Indians within a run.

The Cubs then rode Chapman to the finish, earning their first World Series win at Wrigley since Game 6 in 1945.

Read More: aroldis chapman, cubs, Indians, Jon Lester

Red Sox still haven’t informed Clay Buchholz if his option will be picked up

10.30.16 at 5:11 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz. (Bob DiChiara/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz. (Bob DiChiara/USA Today Sports)

Different year, different circumstances and different approach by the Red Sox.

Unlike following the 2015 season, when the Red Sox informed Clay Buchholz his $13 million option for 2016 would be exercised (if health) prior to the conclusion of the regular season, the team has waited things out this time around.

According to a source close to the situation, as of Sunday evening the Red Sox had not told Buchholz if his $13.5 option for 2017 will be exercised.

The Red Sox have five days after the completion of the World Series (which could potentially be Sunday night) to make a decision on Buchholz’s option.

Buchholz’s case is an interesting one considering what he showed in the final few months of the regular season. Having gotten another chance at entering the starting rotation due to Steven Wright’s injury, the righty went 4-0 with a 2.98 ERA in eight starts.

He also excelled out of the bullpen, managing a 1.93 ERA in eight relief outings.

The issue that makes the option somewhat of a question is how Buchholz performed in the first half of the season, putting up a 5.91 ERA in the first half prior to making adjustments to his arm angle midway through July.

Do you think the Red Sox should pick up Clay Buchholz's $13.5 million option?

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