Friday, September 5, 2008
at 9:11 AM Posted by futuremrsrickankiel
* Yeehaw! That sexy Texan swagger is back in the Boston clubhouse, as Josh Beckett finally came off the DL and is set to hurl against the Rangers tonight. He'll likely be limited to around 60 pitches in order to preserve his health, but it'll be damn good to see him on the mound for Boston again. It's been an up and down year for Beckett, no question; he's showed flashes of the dominance we all grew so accustomed to last year, but he's also had outings like that dismal August 17 effort against Toronto that got him yanked in the 3rd inning.
Here's the thing about Beckett, though. He's never been a shut-down pitcher ERA-wise. When batters do hit him, they score runs. Boy throws hard, and hard pitches turn into hard hits. (Even this year, though, he's only given up 17 home runs -- remember when he gave up 36 in 2006? Eep!) The real measure of Beckett's dominance does not lie in his ERA, but in his strikeout numbers. In his 8-year career, he's averaging nearly a strikeout per inning. This, while only walking batters once every 3.1 innings. Moreover, he's thrown more strikeouts than allowed hits 5 of those 8 seasons... the shift, of course, came when he switched to pitching in the AL, but since then he's still allowed only 533 hits while tossing 497 Ks (and that's including the numbers from his rocky first year in Boston). What's my point? My point is simply that we've all got perception bias: we remember the innings when Beckett's let the opposing team send balls soaring over the Green Monster, but we forget the innings when he's come in and swiftly dispatched with 3 batters in a row. Remember, Beckett's simply NEVER BEEN A TOTALLY SHUT-DOWN PITCHER. He posted a park-adjusted ERA+ of 145 last year due to a combination of skill and luck, but he's generally flirted with the 100-110 range. He's not a CC, a Rich Harden, or even a Dan Haren, honestly. He's got a limited pitch arsenal and an unfortunate tendency to hang balls low and away. But he also knows how to make grown men looks like idiots when they go flailing away at one of his cut fastballs. Beckett's not an ace because he's got otherworldly talent; the last ace we had like that was a skinny little man from the Dominican Republic. Beckett's an ace because he plays the game brilliantly; he intimidates the shit out of batters and delivers the out in the clutchiest of clutch situations. And, honestly, injuries aside, that's the kind of ace that lends a solid ballclub true longevity. We all lust after the likes of a Timmy Lincecum or a circa-2004 Dontrelle Willis, but it's the Andy Pettites and Josh Becketts of the league that anchor a team's dominance. You can fawn over Jon Lester all you want, but there's no question who the Red Sox' true ace is. So give Josh Beckett your support tonight, and remember how lucky we are to have him.
* Phew! On to other things. The so-awful-it-pains-me Redskins let the Giants stomp all over them in last night's NFL season opener for a 16-7 win that is in no way reflective of how truly terrible the 'Skins offense was last night. Unbelievably, the Giants D looked even tighter than last year... it's almost like there used to be this big gap... somewhere in the line... a gap that's not there anymore...
* Local boy and supreme badass Patrick Ewing will be out in Springfield to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame today. An 11-time All-Star and member of the original Dream Team, the Jamaican-born Ewing honed his skills on the courts around Central and Harvard Square. When I was first learning how to play basketball, Patrick Ewing was one of those names that was simply synonymous with the game. He's one of the most dominant athletes our generation has been privileged to watch perform, and, moreover, has always been known as both a leader and a committed team player. Congratulations, Patrick. MASS HYSTERIA LOVES YOU!!!
Those of you kids who paid attention in class will remember that the first Dream Team was assembled in 1992, which also happened to be the year that "The Chronic" dropped. In honor, then, of Mr. Ewing's big day, here's one we all know and love from the greatest album of the last 25 years:
Stick around, everyone... it's going to be a red-letter day up in here. Don't miss it!