Life of a Sportsaholic

This blog is intended to be insight into my life as an irrational, stats-driven, obsessive sports fan in Boston. I am a fan of all types of sports with an emphasis on Boston teams and am a proud UConn alum.

Month: August 2016 (page 2 of 2)

Hope Solo is an Embarrassment to the USA

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Since the opening ceremonies 10 days ago, I have been watching an unhealthy amount of the Olympics in Rio. Day and night there is action in individual and team sports from trampoline to basketball and everything in between. There have been countless incredible and inspiring performances and over the next few weeks I am going to try to write about some of them, but today I need to vent about one particular US athlete: Hope Solo.

Solo has been a controversial figure during her more than a decade in net for the US Women’s National Team (USWNT). She has had incredible success and is considered to be one of the best US goalies of all time. She has won 2 Olympic gold medals and a World Cup gold medal in her career and holds the US record for clean sheets. All of the accomplishments are great, but she has time and time again proven herself to be an embarrassment to USA athletics.

The most recent in her history of saying stupid things to the media came after a PK loss to Sweden in the Olympic semi-finals on Friday. She said Sweden played like “a bunch of cowards” and then “the best team did not win today. I strongly and firmly believe that.” She got beat and her reaction is to bash the opposition, not take any blame. Could she be any more of a sore loser?

This is just the latest in a long line of unsportsmanlike conduct from Solo. In 2008, Solo was benched in place of Briana Scurry for the World Cup semi-final match against Brazil. After the team lost 4-0, her post game comments, “It was the wrong decision, and I think anybody that knows anything about the game knows that. There’s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves.” That situation got so bad, her teammates would not allow her to even attend the 3rd place match. A real team player.

All her talking is one thing, but what put me over the top is her blatant lying about a domestic violence situation in 2015. The police were called to her sister-in-law’s house where she claimed she was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her 17-year old nephew. After interviews with all involved, it appeared Solo was lying and was actually the drunk aggressor. She claimed in an interview that she was a victim and not a criminal, trying to bring attention on the fact that she was the smaller female, so how can she be the aggressor against a 6’8″, 270lb male.

Solo’s half sister Teresa Obert, who was present at the time of the domestic incident, described what she saw:

“She grabbed him by the head and she kept slamming him into the cement over and over again. So I came from behind her, and I pulled her over and, you know, to get her off my son. And then, once she got off, she started punching me in the face over and over again.”

The story itself has more twists and turns than I care to write about and I’mt not an investigative reporter with inside knowledge, but the entire thing pushed me over the edge. Playing the victim to get public support is insulting to everyone, especially all of those who have been victims of domestic violence. Talk about setting a bad example.

***

The few examples above are just that, a few examples. Solo has continually been focused on herself with a complete disregard for others. With any loud athlete, when they are winning, talk can get overlooked and pushed aside. Winning or losing, I’m done. I love the US and support nearly all US athletes in the Olympics and other international tournaments, but consider me out on Solo.

She is a terrible representation of a US Olympic athlete. At age 35, she is nearing the end of her playing tenure with the USWNT and I, for one, will be happy if she never takes the field again wearing the red, white, and blue. She doesn’t deserve to wear the colors and represent the USA.

Injuries and Fatigue a Concern for Red Sox

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

After taking a week off, I’m refreshed and ready to go. Unfortunately, the Red Sox are decidedly not refreshed and struggling with injuries and fatigue with a big 11-game 4-city road trip in front of them. Besides the obvious recent DL stints for Steven Wright (shoulder soreness) and Ryan Hanigan (ankle tendinitis), Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz are looking slower and fatigued as of late. It’s a big concern for the Red Sox who are fighting for a postseason spot.

Bogaerts had played in 108 of the team’s first 110 games of the season, which is a lot to expect from a guy playing shortstop. The overwork is beginning to show it’s ugly head. Since July 24th, Bogaerts is hitting .231 and his season average has dropped .020 points. He does not have a HR in August and his bat has looked slow compared to April and May. By all measures, his .313 average, 14 HRs and 69 RBIs is a very strong season thus far, it’s how far it has dropped and how fatigued he has looked over the last several weeks that is most concerning. He got the day off on Sunday vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks and is likely to have another day off on Monday as the team travels to Cleveland. I’m worried the rest is a little too late.

For David Ortiz, the outrageous first half of his retirement tour is in the rear view mirror. At the all-star break, Ortiz was hitting .331 with 22 HRs, 72 RBIs and 34 doubles, which were all at or near the top in the AL. Now, in 26 games since the break, he has begun to shoot back to earth with a .239 average, 4 HRS, 18 RBIs, and just 3 doubles. Like Bogaerts, his overall stats are impressive for the season (.310, 26 HRs, 90 RBIs, 37 doubles), but the sharp downward trend is a huge concern moving forward for the 40 year old. At his age, he’s much more likely to continue to decline the final 6 weeks of the season.

If the Red Sox are going to get a playoff spot and contend this year, Bogaerts and Ortiz have to be healthy and able to produce when it counts. At this moment, I have no confidence that either player can rest and regroup enough to have a significant impact down the stretch.

Wright Performs Like an Ace

steven wright sandy leon getty

The Red Sox have been searching for ace-like performances all season long. Rick Porcello has played the stopper role at times and David Price has occasionally looked strong, but Steven Wright has been the closest thing to an ace and he proved it Friday night. In his 4th complete game of the season, Wright shut out the Los Angeles Dodgers to set the tone for the 3-game set that ends the 11-game road trip.

Wright has been more hit-or-miss as of late (mostly hit…pun intended), but Friday night he reestablished his ability to dominate a baseball game. He struck out 9 and allowed just 3 hits against a very good Dodgers lineup. It was a performance the Red Sox very much needed and will continue to need as the postseason push wears on in August and September. If Wright can return to his more dominant form on a consistent basis, Porcello can continue his very strong season and David Price can at least pitch reasonably well most outings, the Red Sox have a legitimate chance.

The Red Sox are now 5-4 on this gruelling west coast road trip and with one more win this weekend, can secure a winning record as they come home next week. With lots of road games remaining on the schedule, winning series on the road is pivotal in determining if they will be playing on October.

Andrew Benintendi’s First MLB Hit

If Andrew Benintendi develops into the star big-leaguer many think he will, August 3rd, 2016 will be a day to remember. It’s the beginning of a promising career.

Benintendi Only Bright Spot in Loss

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

All the hoopla and attention around the call-up of the Red Sox #1 prospect Andrew Benintendi couldn’t overshadow another low-scoring loss on Wednesday. Rick Porcello allowed 3 solo HRs throughout his complete game outing, but with the Red Sox offense going dormant, it wasn’t enough. The only offensive highlight was from the man himself, Benintendi, who picked up his first and second career MLB hits in his first start.

Neither hit was crushed, but on a night when the opposing pitching staff was shutting down the Red Sox monster offense, the hits were even more impressive. I’m sure it will take some time for Benintendi to get truly comfortable in the big leagues, but last night shows how confident he is in his ability. With tremendous pressure on him, he was composed in the batters box and looked mostly in control throughout the entire game. That is an incredibly important quality and will serve him well as he adjusts to the MLB grind.

Putting the nice Benintendi performance last night aside, this team is struggling right now. With wins by the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles last night, the Red Sox fall 3 games back of 1st in the AL East and 2 games back of 2nd place. There is a long way to go, but with most of the remaining schedule on the road, it will be a tough slog. For the first time in a very long time, the Red Sox are on the outside looking in at a postseason slot.

Ramirez Sums Up Loss with Tumble Down Stairs

Christopher Evans/Boston Herald

Christopher Evans/Boston Herald

With a 4-0 lead heading into the 8th inning and a reasonable pitch count for the Red Sox “ace” David Price, things were looking good, but you know when the story starts like that, the ending isn’t pretty. In the 8th the game changed on a dime as Seattle scored 5 runs on 5 hits, including 2 HRs, against Price, Matt Barnes, and newly acquired lefty Fernando Abad. The Red Sox went on to lose 5-4 and the most appropriate description of the game came after the L was registered when Hanley Ramirez jammed his wrist by falling down the dugout steps. Could there be a more perfect image to describe what happened to the Red Sox last night in Seattle than that? Hanley, and the Red Sox, fell down the stairs.

The Red Sox are now an abysmal 9-34 when scoring 4 or fewer runs in a game this season and now may have to deal with the loss of a strong offensive presence in Hanley Ramirez. They have fallen a game further back into 3rd place in the AL East and aren’t instilling confidence in fans as they roller-coaster their way through this west-coast swing. Each time the team is re-invigorated with some life, they find a way to go in the exact opposite direction.

I’m invested in this team and have believed from day 1 that they have the talent to be a real contender, but am starting to wonder if they are just playing with my emotions. I’m starting to think they will just stay close to a postseason spot into September with a few nice wins here and there, but ultimately will be playing golf when October rolls around. That seems like a waste for the best offense in baseball. Let’s hope this feeling in my gut is wrong, but it certainly feels like the Red Sox season is falling down the stairs into the darkness.

Benintendi Fever Reaches the Big Leagues

Joel Page/Portland Press Herald

Joel Page/Portland Press Herald

Less than a day after being the subject of many trade talks, Red Sox top prospect Andrew Benintendi is making the big jump from AA Portland to the majors, skipping AAA Pawtucket. The Red Sox hope he will provide some stability in left field once he gets comfortable, which if his short history is any indicator, should take about 2-3 weeks. Is Benintendi ready for the big time? It certainly feels that way.

He began the season as a 21-year old in advanced A Salem and in 34 games, hit .341 and drove in 32 runs while playing a strong outfield defense. After such success in A, Benintendi made the toughest jump in the minor leagues from A to AA. In his 63 games at AA Portland he hit .295 with 8 HRs and drove in 44 runs. He had 70 hits over that span and has continued to be an above average defender, spending time in left field in anticipation of this move. It did take him a few weeks to adjust to AA pitching, but after the adjustment, he has been crushing it.

Benintendi likely won’t play until Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners, but the lefty will get plenty of opportunities to prove himself, because honestly, why else would you call him up? He’s not going to play once a week, he should get at least a split of the left field playing time, if not majority, and perhaps get a start in center or right to spell Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts as well. He still has plenty of developing to do, but now he can do it alongside 2 other young superstars in the making. I know it’s jumping ahead, but how unbelievable could the Red Sox outfield be if Benintendi lives up to expectations? Maybe the best ever.

An interesting point of trivia: The last player to make the jump to the major leagues by skipping AAA…Jackie Bradley Jr.

Most Important Win of the Season for the Red Sox

pedroia bogaerts celebrate

For most fans, Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim would be the first game of the series they could watch start to finish. With the Red Sox traveling on the west coast, the first 3 games of the series began at either 9 or 10 pm on the east coast, resulting in games ending just too late. The Sunday 4pm start time was a treat, but most of the game wasn’t. Missed opportunities (8 left on base) and a lack of timely hitting put the Red Sox in a 3-0 hole going into the bottom of the 9th, a situation the team has not been able to overcome all year…until yesterday.

With their back firmly against the wall and a bad loss staring them in the face, the Red Sox showed some life for the first time in a while. After a Jackie Bradley Jr. walk and an Aaron Hill single, the Red Sox had something going. Then, the collective hearts sank when Ryan Hanigan and Brock Holt struck out back to back. It was up to Mookie Betts, who with 2 outs in the 9th, down 3 runs, finally put the Red Sox on the board with a line-drive base hit into right field. It was then all on the shoulders of Dustin Pedroia, who had a sombrero to that point in the game (3 Ks). With one swing of the bat, the Red Sox were lifted off the mat and brought back to life. A 417 ft HR to center field gave the Red Sox their first lead of the game and it would stick for a huge W.

That HR is the biggest hit of the 2016 season, hands down. If Pedroia makes the final out, the Red Sox fall to .500 on the road this season, 2.5 games back in 3rd place in the AL East and walk away losing 3 out of 4 against the Angels. Instead, they are 23-21 on the road, are just 1.5 games back in the division and have a thrilling series split to carry them to Seattle. The win prevents them from losing 6 of their last 7 (although losing 5 of their last 7 isn’t good, it’s better) and hopefully gives them some momentum moving forward and into Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline. Does that hit push Dave Dombrowski to make a big move on Monday and really believe in this team? I don’t know, but I promise you it didn’t hurt.

Newer posts