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Commissioner notes: Rob Manfred says not so fast to netting at Fenway Park 11.10.15 at 10:43 am ET
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Commissioner Rob Manfred  (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Commissioner Rob Manfred (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Speaking at the general managers’ meetings Tuesday morning, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred touched on a variety of subjects currently impacting the game.

Included in the conversation was the topic of whether or not netting would be implemented in stadiums after numerous incidents this past season in which fans were severely injured by flying equipment.

Manfred pointed out, however, that there is no guarantee any changes will be made to the areas closest to home plate.

“I think as you go out and look at ballparks it becomes evident that a simple, uniformed net to the edge of the dugout is not workable given the variation in the designs of the stadium,” he said. “It’s going to be a little more complicated than that if in fact we move ahead. We’re going to have a full conversation about this at the owners’ meeting next week. I don’t want to prejudge the outcome beyond that. But I do think a simple rule is probably difficult given the variations that exist in our stadiums.”

– Manfred was very adamant that the strike zone, as it is being called, is more satisfactory that it’s ever been thanks to improved technology.

“The umpires calling of the strike zone is probably more consistent that it’s ever been in the history of the game,” Manfred said. “I think the application of technology, going back to when Sandy Alderson was running the umpiring department, has overall time brought consistency in that area.

“The issue of the affect on offense, what I said at the beginning of the year was that I thought we needed, before we made a judgement and started talking about changes, another year of data. Every once in a while even I get to be right. What I mean by that was that we had a really interesting uptick in offense late in the year this year. A increase in scoring. We’re not going to jump too quickly on this one. We really want to understand what’s happening in the game. Our game is too great to be willy-nilly making changes thinking you’re going to address a problem that may not be a problem at all.”

– Manfred is still supportive of the qualifying offer system, which is in it’s fourth offseason:

“We were trying to identify a group of players that were significant enough where the loss merited the team that lost the player getting compensation, and that the player would be in high enough demand that the compensation availability would not ruin his market,” Manfred noted. “The fact that players who say, ‘No,’ go out into the market and get contracts even though the signing club has given up a draft choice kind of says to me we got it right. I don’t think you need somebody to accept. I think that so far we have successfully identified a group of players who were significant losses to the teams they were leaving and were high enough quality that they could bear the burden of draft choice compensation in the market and still get a good contract.”

– In regards to the news that Colorado shortstop Jose Reyes has been arrested for domestic abuse, Manfred cited the recently-implemented domestic violence policy (enacted in August).

“We felt good about the policy when we negotiated it. This will be the first test, and I think it will stand the test,” he said.

Here are the guidelines of the policy:

The Commissisoner’s Office will invesigate all allegations of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse involving members of the baseball community. The Commissioner may place an accused player on paid administrative leave for up to seven days while allegations are investigated. Players may challenge any decision before the arbitration panel.

The Commissioner will decide on appropriate discipline, with no minimum or maximum penalty under the policy. Players may challenge such decisions to the arbitration panel.

Training, Education and Resources:
All players will be provided education about domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse in both English and Spanish at regular intervals. Resources to players’ families — including referral information, websites, hotline numbers and outreach facilities — will be made available, along with a confidential 24-hour helpline.
An annual program of community outreach will be developed. It may include public service announcements featuring players, domestic violence awareness days at ballparks and other activities designed to spread awareness on the issues.

– Manfred insisted MLB is doing everything it’s power to stay ahead of possible advances in performance enhancing drug use.

“We are constantly vigilant on the issue of the using of performance-enhancing drugs. It’s not just that we have a testing program that’s now on auto-pilot. We spend an inordinate amount of time working with groups to make sure we know what is the very latest developments that are going on in respect to performance-enhancing drugs. I don’t know how to say it more clearly is that whether or not we have an uptick in offense, we are constantly vigilant on this topic.”

Read More: Fenway Park, Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred,
Fenway Park to host Billy Joel concert June 26 01.30.14 at 12:08 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced Thursday that Billy Joel will play a concert at Fenway Park on June 26. Tickets go on sale to the general public Feb. 8.

“We look forward to hosting the music icon at Fenway in June for what we know will be a memorable performance,” Red Sox executive vice president/COO Sam Kennedy said in a statement.

Joel is a six-time Grammy Award winner and the sixth best-selling recording artist of all-time, with worldwide sales of more than 150 million albums.

“It is an honor to bring Billy Joel back to Boston and have him play historic Fenway Park,” Live Nation New England president Don Law said. “His music transcends generations. This will be an event that fans will remember for years to come.”

Read More: Bill Joel, Fenway Park,
Sox fans set to pay big money for Game 6 tickets 10.29.13 at 2:18 pm ET
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The Red Sox will have the opportunity of a lifetime on Wednesday night at Fenway Park, as they have the chance to claim their third World Series title in the last 10 years. If they succeed, the Sox will secure a championship on their home field for the first time in 95 years.

For reference, the last time Boston clinched a World Series at Fenway in 1918, Woodrow Wilson was in the White House and World War I was still raging in Europe.

After winning the 2004 World Series in St. Louis and the 2007 Fall Classic in Denver, the Sox could celebrate a title in front of a packed Fenway, and that has Boston fans breaking the bank for a chance to see the game in person.

As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, the average price for a Game 6 ticket is $2,186, according to TiqIq.com, making Wednesday night’s contest one of the most expensive sporting events in Boston’s history.

The cheapest seat in the house for Game 6, a right field standing-room ticket, costs $849 on Stubhub.com. The most expensive ticket listed on Stubhub is a field box seat listed at an incredible $42,079.

Perhaps due to the fact that most fans simply cannot afford to shell out that much money for a single game, there still plenty of tickets available, as Stubhub still has 2,048 seats left to sell.

It may cost a pretty penny, but if the Red Sox are able to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy in front of over 37,000 rabid fans on Wednesday, there surely won’t be many regrets by the end of the night.

Read More: Cardinals, Fenway Park, Game 6, Red Sox
Red Sox to honor Mariano Rivera at Fenway Park on Sunday 09.12.13 at 11:06 am ET
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The Red Sox plan to honor Yankees closer Mariano Rivera prior to Sunday night’s Red Sox-Yankees game, the future Hall of Famer’s last regular season — and quite possibly last — appearance at Fenway Park prior to his retirement. From the press release:

The Boston Red Sox will pay tribute to New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in a pre-game ceremony at Fenway Park this Sunday, September 15, before the 43 year-old’€™s last regular season game at the ballpark.  Major League Baseball‘€™s all-time saves leader announced that he would retire at season’€™s end after a 19-year career.  Rivera has made more appearances than any other visiting reliever in the 102-year history of Fenway Park.

Fans coming to Sunday’€™s game, scheduled to start at 8:05 p.m., are invited to be seated by approximately 7:30 p.m.  A limited number of tickets are still available for the game.  

Rivera has made 55 career regular season appearances at Fenway Park, going 2-4 with a 2.54 ERA and 36 saves (and eight blown saves — his most in any visiting park) in 60 1/3 innings. He has made five additional postseason appearances against the Red Sox at Fenway, recording three saves but also blowing two — Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, both of which the Sox won in extra innings en route to their historic comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series. Rivera has blown only five saves in 47 career postseason opportunities.

Read More: Fenway Park, Mariano Rivera,
Larry Lucchino on the state of the Red Sox 02.14.13 at 4:48 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino, in a 30-minute media session, fielded questions on all things Red Sox. He expanded on comments made earlier in the week by team principal owner John Henry, who suggested that the team had shifted away from the core philosophy that had yielded six playoff appearances in seven seasons between 2003-09, and that a course correction is now in effect.

Lucchino highlighted the team’s basic emphasis of on-base percentage and long at-bats that drive up the pitch counts of opponents as centerpieces of the philosophical drift.

“[Henry] feels pretty strongly that we deviated from a basic philosophy of grinding relentless at-bats deep in the count, on-base percentage, some of the fundamental things that got us to the success we had. We have fallen considerably,” said Lucchino. “We used to have incentives in contracts relating to on-base percentage to show you how important we thought it was. I think there was kind of a deviation from that, somewhere along the way.”

Asked why that deviation occurred, Lucchino offered the following.

“I think it kind of grew gradually, and if you’re not ever-vigilant, that can happen to the organization. That’s one factor,” said Lucchino. “Perception that everybody now gets it, everybody now understands it, and don’t we have to look for some new metric or approach? And we in some ways outsmarted ourselves. Those are two of the factors.”

Among other topics: Read the rest of this entry »

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Larry Lucchino: Fenway Park sellout streak likely to ‘rest in peace’ in April at 2:45 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — It has been nearly a decade since the Red Sox announced anything short of a sellout crowd at Fenway Park. Since May 15, 2003, every game at Fenway Park has been announced as a sellout in a remarkable 793-game streak that has become increasingly controversial thanks to the swaths of green seats that characterized the park (thanks chiefly to no-shows) last September.

The streak, however, appears to stand on the brink of its demise. With ticket sales down following a 69-93 disaster of a 2012 season, Red Sox CEO/president Larry Lucchino acknowledged on Thursday at JetBlue Park that the streak of packed houses is expected to conclude in April.

“It’s going to rest in peace, I think, sometime in April I suspect. That’s not such a terrible thing,” said Lucchino. “It’s an extraordinary accomplishment.”

Lucchino defended the legitimacy of the streak. The Sox currently use the same definition of a sellout that has been in use for decades, dating prior to the current ownership group’s assumption of control of the club in 2002. The standard for a sellout is that there are more tickets sold than there are seats in the ballpark. Lucchino said that the Sox haven’t twisted either numbers or definitions to sustain their run of sellouts. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Fenway Park, Larry Lucchino, sellout streak,
Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy: ‘We are paid to do one thing, and that’s to win’ 01.17.13 at 11:35 pm ET
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Red Sox executive vice president and chief operating officer Sam Kennedy, in an interview on WEEI’s Red Sox Hot Stove Show, disputed the suggestion found in published excerpts from former Sox manager Terry Francona‘s that the franchise’s baseball decisions started to be shaped by marketing concerns. Instead, Kennedy stated that the Sox’ mission is defined by the team’s on-field success, with marketing (and concerns such as NESN’s broadcasting success) serving that goal, rather than vice-versa.

“Great sports organizations, great ownership groups like ours, have one goal, and that is to win baseball games. We’€™ve been here for 11 years together. Our group’€™s won two world championships, we’€™ve had six postseason appearances, we’€™ve won over 1,000 baseball games,” said Kennedy. “The business side, the baseball side and the community outreach side all need to work together to achieve that common goal of winning games.

“To be clear, the way that I view the world, I can speak for myself, is that we on the business side are here to support and provide the necessary resources to the baseball operations group to do everything in their power to field a team that does one thing, and that is win. Winning baseball games is and always has been the central mission of the Boston Red Sox since we’€™ve been here, and I think that John Henry and Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino have demonstrated an incredible track record of doing that. I know that I’€™m really proud to be a part of the organization. I know that [former GM Theo Epstein] was proud to be part of this organization, as was Tito. I certainly wish them both well.”

Asked if he’s seen a change in the team’s operating philosophy in recent years, Kennedy suggested he had not. He said that the biggest change in the organization has been its performance on the field rather than what is transpiring inside the team’s offices. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Fenway Park, John Henry, Larry Lucchino, Sam Kennedy
Closing Time: Red Sox get an assist from rain in washing away Tigers 07.31.12 at 11:17 pm ET
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For the first 2 2/3 innings of Tuesday night’€™s game at Fenway Park, Josh Beckett was in complete control of the Tigers. In fact, he was perfect, and it seemed as if the right-hander was well on his way to one of his better outings of the year.

But as the theme has carried on throughout Beckett’€™s disappointing campaign, it was not the case. After retiring the first eight Tigers in a row to start the game, Beckett wouldn’€™t record another out. He gave up an infield single, hit a batter and then walked a pair — the last one to force in a run — and was ultimately pulled after team doctors discovered he had a back spasm. On a rainy night at Fenway Park, boos showered on Beckett.

Luckily for Beckett, however, his teammates picked him up and caught opposing Tigers ace and reigning Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander on an off night in which he, like Beckett, struggled to command the baseball while fighting the conditions. The Red Sox offense put together a four-run outburst in the fourth inning to take a 4-1 lead they wouldn’€™t relinquish as the they beat the Tigers for their fourth consecutive win after the game was called due to rain in the sixth inning.

Though he allowed three walks, Clayton Mortensen relieved Beckett and pitched extremely well to help the Red Sox pull out the victory. The 27-year-old righty, called up Tuesday as roster filler after the Sox traded Matt Albers (with Craig Breslow still making his way across the country to Boston), pitched 2 2/3 innings, allowing one hit and no runs. He picked up the victory — first first of the year — and exited the game in the sixth to a standing ovation from the fans.

The victory was the fourth straight for the Red Sox, who are now two games over .500.


‘€¢ Beckett started the game exceptionally sharp, retiring the Tigers side in order in the first inning and second innings. First, he struck out Austin Jackson looking before forcing Quintin Berry and Miguel Cabrera into fly outs. In the second, Beckett generated three consecutive fly outs.

It was Beckett’€™s first clean first inning (no runs, no walks) since June 30 and the second straight game he hasn’€™t given up a run in the first inning. With the clean inning, he improved his 2012 first-inning ERA from 10.06 to 9.50.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Closing time, Fenway Park, Red Sox, tigers
A look back at Kevin Youkilis’ time with the Red Sox 07.16.12 at 4:38 pm ET
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For years, Kevin Youkilis was a fan favorite among the Fenway Faithful, punctuated by his hard play, flair for the dramatic and consistency as a member of the Red Sox. On Monday night, only less than a month after being traded, he’€™ll make his first appearance at Fenway Park as a visitor.

Drafted by the Red Sox in the eighth round of the 2001 MLB draft, Youkilis spent three seasons in the minors before getting called up to the Red Sox in 2004. He spent nine seasons with the club, posting numbers of 133 home runs, 564 RBIs, 494 walks with a .287 batting average, .388 on-base percentage and .875 OPS. He was also named an All-Star three times and earned a Gold Glove before being dealt to the White Sox last month.

As Youkilis returns to Fenway for the first time as a visitor, here’€™s a look at some of his most memorable moments during his time with the Red Sox:

‘€“ Youkilis earned the affection of the Red Sox fanbase within the first game that he donned the uniform on May 15, 2004. With regular starting third baseman Bill Mueller placed on the disabled list, Youkilis was immediately called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to take his place in Toronto.

Batting eighth against Blue Jays pitcher and 1996 Cy Young Award winner Pat Hentgen, Youkilis connected in his second at-bat for his first major league hit, a solo home run to left field in the fourth inning to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead that earned him the silent treatment when he returned to the dugout. With the homer, he became the seventh player in club history to hit a home run in his first game. He finished the game 2-for-4.

‘€“ Youkilis had always been a poster boy for hard work ethic, whether it was working counts, fouling off pitch after pitch or legging out hits, which earned the admiration of Red Sox Nation. Never was that more apparent than during a game against the Indians on May 28, 2007, when Youkilis smacked a fastball to the triangle in centerfield at Fenway. After the ball made a strange bounce, Youkilis turned on the jets and motored his way around the bases for what turned out to be the first inside the park home run of his career to give the Red Sox a 4-1 lead.

‘€œIt was just funny watching him run,’€ joked Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia after the game.

‘€“ Youkilis turned in his best statistical season with the Red Sox in 2008, when he finished as one of the best hitters in the league. He completed the year batting .312 with 29 home runs, 115 RBIs and a .958 OPS. He earned his first All-Star team selection (starting at first base) in his first year on the ballot, won the Hank Aaron Award ‘€“ which is annually given to the top hitter in each league as voted by fans and media ‘€“ and even finished third in AL MVP voting.

The first baseman was also at the top of his class defensively. During his impressive 2008 season, Youkilis broke the major league record for most consecutive games without an error by a first baseman (194 games). He also later set a new record that season when he fielded his 1,701st consecutive defensive chance without an error on April 27, 2008, a record previously held by Stuffy McInnis from 1921 to 1922.

‘€“ A sensational Red Sox career wasn’€™t without controversy for Youkilis, however. On June 5, 2008, tensions rose between Youkilis and Manny Ramirez in the dugout, leading to a scuffle that forced them to be separated. One grainy piece of footage caught by the cameras at NESN revealed Ramirez apparently taking a swing at Youkilis, but no reason as to why the two confronted each other was fully explained.

Ramirez was later traded that season and Youkilis took his spot in the order as the cleanup hitter.

‘€œWe have two different approaches to the game. Winning and losing isn’€™t life and death to Manny,’€ Youkilis said of Ramirez in 2009.

In 2009, Youkilis was again involved in a scuffle, this time involving him and an opposing player. On Aug. 11, 2009, Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello nailed Youkilis in the back with a pitch, prompting the first baseman to charge the mound and a bench-clearing brawl to ensue. Both players were ejected from the game and Youkilis was handed a five-game suspension.

‘€“ Timely hits were also a part of Youkilis’€™ Red Sox resume. On April 29, 2008, he broke a scoreless game with a game-winning walk-off single in the ninth inning against the Blue Jays that scored David Ortiz for the 1-0 victory.

Then, on April 24, 2009, Youkilis delivered more heroics. In the bottom of the 11th inning of a 4-4 game against the Yankees, Youkilis turned on an offering from Damaso Marte and sent it over the Green Monster seats for a walk-off solo home run that gave the Red Sox a 5-4 victory.

‘€“ During the 2011 offseason, during the height of Youkilis’€™ popularity, car dealer Herb Chambers put together a commercial that included Youkilis and singer Biz Markie in which they sampled his song, ‘€œJust A Friend,’€ to include the lyrics, ‘€œYouk, you got what I need.’€


‘€“ Youkilis wasn’€™t just clutch during the regular season. In fact, he was arguably at his best during the postseason, where he was a big factor in helping the Red Sox claim their 2007 World Series championship. Mostly a bystander during the 2004 title run, Youkilis set records in 2007. In the 2007 ALCS against the Indians, he set records with a .500 batting average, 10 runs and 14 hits in the seven-game series.

In 29 career games and 125 career plate appearances in the postseason as a member of the Red Sox, Youkilis hit .306, six home runs and 17 RBIs with a .944 OPS.

‘€“ Youkilis’€™ most memorable moment may have saved itself for last. With trade speculation mounting in light of third baseman Will Middlebrooks‘€™ breakout rookie season, Youkilis had one last memory for the Fenway Faithful in what turned out to be his final game in a Red Sox uniform.

In the seventh inning against the Braves on June 24, Youkilis displayed the heart he had showed Boston for so long as he raced around the bases for an RBI triple. Manager Bobby Valentine ‘€“ who was told earlier in the day by general manager Ben Cherington that a trade involving Youkilis was looming ‘€“ then pulled him out of the game, prompting an emotional farewell and curtain call as he exited Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox for the last time.

Read More: Fenway Park, Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox,
Pedro Martinez, Kevin Millar reflect on Fenway Park: ‘There’s nothing you can compare it to’ 04.20.12 at 5:36 pm ET
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Pedro Martinez once again brought a jolt of electricity to Fenway Park with his presence, as his entry onto the field through the tunnel in center field drew one of the most emotional reactions of the day from the crowd, with the three-time Cy Young winner returning the affection by pointing to several parts of the park to express his affection for the place of his most lasting baseball memories.

Few players have ever had the affair with Fenway Park that Martinez did. Indeed, as Martinez noted, he is one of the few Red Sox stars who left town as a free agent yet continued to be a beloved figure in the city and region.

“I don’t want to curse this — and I don’t think I can anymore, because I’m not going to be playing anymore, and my love for Boston is always going to be in my heart,” Martinez prefaced. “I might be the only player that has gone away from Boston and still had the same support from the fans. Gone and being here, has the same support I got. I’m very privileged to the be that player that was never booed and never left a sour grape in Boston.”

That being the case, the pitcher’s affinity for Boston and for Fenway Park remains undampened, as fresh now as it was during the seven seasons he spent with the Sox from 1998-2004. The Sox recognized that in selecting Martinez (along with Kevin Millar, another member of the iconic 2004 team that claimed the first Red Sox World Series in 86 years) to deliver the pre-game toast to Fenway Park. After the toast, Martinez described the magic that he feels inside of the ballpark that celebrated its 100th birthday on Friday.

‘€œMy feeling is unique toward Fenway, unique toward the city, unique in every aspect. Fenway has a way that you can’€™t find it anywhere else,” said Martinez. “You might find [it in] Chicago, with a little bit of tradition. But when it comes to Fenway, there’€™s nothing you can compare it to. I have been in many other fields and I have been all around the leagues, played in the National League, too. Even the old Yankee Stadium, there’€™s nothing that can be compared to Fenway. It must be the closeness that the stadium gives you. If you messed it up, you’€™re going to hear it. They’re going to let you know. And you can hear it. The same way when you do something good for Boston, you’€™re going to hear it and they’re going to embrace you. You’€™re going to feel, sometimes, people breathing close to you. That’€™s how close they are to you at Fenway. Fenway’€™s the only stadium that can give you that. Fenway becomes a unique place, and it should remain that way.” Read the rest of this entry »

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