August 24, 2012; Boston, MA USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) prior to a game against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE

Runs, Hits and Errors: What A Week "Away" From Baseball Means

I spent some time with family this week in Sarasota, Florida. We celebrated both my mother-in-law’s return home after surgery and a month-long convalescence and her 80th birthday. What I learned during my week away from baseball is that I’ll not really away and that’s actually a good thing.

Baseball has been my lifelong distraction; an oasis of suspended reality and eternal youth amidst the deliberate maelstrom of technology, sports, music, family, research and reading that I regularly inflict on myself and others. Since I landed last Saturday the staff at BSI has been cranking away on a multitude of articles. Lord have they had a lot to write about. I was able to read their posts outside the ebb and flow of my writing and editing duties for BSI.

What I learned was this. I’m am hopelessly addicted to baseball and follow it as ardently when not “assigned” to cover it as when I am. In rapid fire fashion, then, here are my thoughts on the previous week’s proceedings.

Oct 24, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander (35) reacts in the fourth inning during game one of the 2012 World Series against the San Francisco Giants at AT

A Giants/Tigers series is a good thing for a number of reasons, primary of which is the Yankees aren’t playing in it. Secondly, although he got hammered last night, Justin Verlander is far and away the best pitcher in major league baseball, bar none. His old school “step in the box so I can hurl this BB at you” is a joy to watch. No crotch-grabbing, mound-stalking, faux intimidation-staring BS. It’s baseball, unvarnished and no frills. Step in and be ready to hit me with your best shot because I’m not here to futz around.

A Giants/ Tigers series is also good because you’ve got a number of great stories and larger than life characters setting the stage for at least a six game extravaganza as I see it. Pablo Sandoval joined the record books in game one of the series, hitting three home-runs in one game after hitting just 12 all season. Kung Fu Panda joined Babe Ruth (2), Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only player to hit three dingers in a single World Series game. Add Prince Fielder, Miguel CabreraMarco Scutaro, Barry Zito and Buster Posey to the mix and you’ve got something to watch.

Oct 23, 2012; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox new manager John Farrell talks to the media during a press conference with Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington (left) at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

Boston hired a new manager, John Farrell, from the Toronto Blue Jays. The former Sox pitching coach has been a darling of the Boston brass for two years and they finally  got their man last week,, followed by hiring Torey Lovullo from the Jays in his wake. See Earl Nash’s insightful piece on the Lovullo hiring. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t see it. Farrell has been under .500 the past two years and familiarity with the Boston system isn’t the defining trait needed to right the ship.

The Sox and David Ortiz agreed to a two-year deal worth $29 million. Ortiz gets his “respect” and Boston retained an icon who this year trimmed down and powdered the ball until his achilles heel injury. When the wheels come off the Ortiz cart it will be in a hurry. Here’s hoping one of Boston’s most productive and beloved hitters has two-years worth of gas in the tank.

No sooner had Ortiz inked his deal then Bob Costas interviewed Bobby Valentine on “Costas Tonight”. It was a refreshingly frank interview with the former Red Sox manager. Some members of the media and Red Sox fans still looking to cook Bobby V overreacted when they said that Valentine accused Ortiz of quitting on the 2012 team. What Valentine said was, in the wake of the blocker buster deal with the Dodgers, Ortiz “decided not to play.”

If you were 37, saw the handwriting on the wall and had your 2012 stats to protect as you headed into another contract negotiation would you have risked further injury when it was clear Boston had packed it in for the year? I thought so.

So in short, even when I’m away I’m actually not. The deliciously addictive nature of the game – spring training, in season play, hot stove – fuels my passions and interests. If you’ve read this entire piece, welcome to the club. If you haven’t I hope you find something else that gives you joy and focus. My family does, music does, writing does, sports and the Red Sox do. Getting away can ultimately bring you full circle.

Will it go round in circles
Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky
Will it go round in circles
Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky
- Will It Go ‘Round In Circles, Billy Preston 

Tags: Boston Red Sox

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