Playing Baseball Is

Playing professional baseball is like being at a big country dance, especially as the season nears the trade deadline. What teams are hot; almost-hot and need to buy, almost-hot but can’t afford to buy; and what teams are turning into compost and have to sell.

I can’t imagine the stress, the everything is on the line kind of stress. Do or Die.

The 2017 Red Sox are changing and morphing, creating a new identity from the one in April. Some of the changes felt like amputation. To protect the body of the team, Pablo Sandoval, the Panda had to be cut, hefty contract and all. Was that the abrupt end of his career?

No one in Boston nation ought to feel bad for the Panda. By not playing, Pablo earned $87,500 a game.  But now that he’s rebounded, does this mean he gets paid from Boston and San Francisco at the same time? How much are the Giants paying him to return? What are they expecting from Pablo? Will he magically be able to hit and field? Perhaps the pain of getting cut is enough to inspire him to do what it takes to return to the state he once was.

I don’t think Eduardo Nunez’ arrival from San Francisco had anything to do with Pablo Sandoval; it was a swap, but from different transactions. Boston basically cast him to float on an ice burg. It didn’t seem like Sandoval was worth any kind of trading bait. It’s not a good sign when you are worth more not playing than playing.

But talk about a Fairy-tale story that Nunez has starred in. He’s been on the team for perhaps two days. Was a Giant in the morning and a Red Sox by eve. And he’s making the most of it. He wasn’t brought in to be a power hitter, but perhaps he didn’t get that memo as yesterday he hit two home runs and hit the game-winning hit in extra innings. Making a memorable debut will always win fans.

Just as I write this, they announce that Melky Cabrera was just traded to the red-hot Royals, sold from the floundering Chicago White Sox. There will not be an easy out on the entire Kansas City roster.

I enjoy watching a season of baseball because I enjoy seeing the unexpected, the new surprises. Last year it was watching the instant blossoming of Andrew Benintendi towards the end of the season. Immediate impact. Such an impact that it was predicted that Andrew would be a shoe-in for Rookie-of-the-Year. But no one expected Aaron Judge to stomp all over those expectations and rule. To not only be the “biggest player to ever have played MLB baseball,” but to dominate the homers; it’s been a long-time since anyone has been compared to Babe Ruth, and Aaron Judge is just a rookie. Larger than Life.

The Red Sox could use someone to hit home runs. It might not be true now, but the Red Sox used to hold the lowest total of homers. Ortiz took all the home runs with him when he retired.

Even though the Red Sox have been in first and now second, it feels like a roller-coaster like season. Sometimes Boston can’t put wood on ball to save their souls, especially when Rick Porcello is on the mound. Recently, a short losing streak caused everyone to throw their hands up into the air and exclaim the sky is falling. Just a smudge from the half-season mark, time is on our side, though time in baseball, like summer, is rolling down a steep slope in the second half. September is just a couple of days away, or it seems.

This year’s spark has been Rafael Calcano Devers. Twenty-year-old Baby-faced Devers has made an impact. In just a few games, he’s shown patience to walk; he’s shown his power with a homer; and he’s shown prowess in the field. To demonstrate his over-night sensation has been, the search engine came up with just two pictures of the kid, and none are in a Boston Red Sox uniform. I know that we’re heading towards an eclipse, but Devers has been like a meteor that is still glowing. He burned through the minor-league alphabet and was launching homers against all levels. So why not test him? Anything to mix the stagnant and slumping Sox up.

The Red Sox have shown tenacity this year; they’ve played more extra inning games in such close proximity than I can remember, and they are coming out on top of those late, late-night battles. Two games worth of a game. They are now on a long stretch without any time off. Traveling across the country in the middle of this schedule.

Maybe a teeter-totter is a better metaphor for the Sox. Today the bats are working, but the pitching of Drew Pomeranz is dipping. He’s had great command of his pitch. Until this game. I spoke too soon. Drew left the game in the sixth inning had had only given up one run; he had given up hits, but he was able to make the crucial pitches to get the team out of trouble.

If everything works out, I’ll get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch the First place Red Sox play a potential World Series opponent in the Houston Astros. I’ve got my fingers crossed and praying every night that I’ll be at Fenway Park at the end of September. I’ll keep you posted.

 

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