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: December 2018

Do I Have to Like David Price Now?

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The short answer is of course not, but my feelings on Price have certainly changed for the better. For those interested in what specifically has changed my mind, keep reading, if not, thanks for playing and come back anytime…

Ok, now that they are gone, let me take you through my opinion on David Price and how it has changed (or not) over the last 2+ months.

Most of us would agree that Price showed us something we haven’t seen over his previous 2 years in a Red Sox uniform this October: Grit and Balls. He stepped on the mound and pitched his heart out late in the postseason and was a pivotal reason the Red Sox were 2018 World Series Champions (seriously can’t type that phrase enough). He fought through adversity and stepped up in a big way. In those same spots in the past, he has shriveled and found every excuse in the book to justify failure (i.e. my hands weren’t warm enough to go out and play, I played too much Fortnite and now have carpal tunnel). With Chris Sale not 100%, the Red Sox desperately needed others to step up in the rotation and Price took that to heart. He performed at the highest level when it counted the most; an unfamiliar refrain when describing Price.

Beyond the grit, Price showed me that he knows how to be a loyal teammate. He appeared to be an important voice in the clubhouse for the other pitchers on the staff and stood by others side when they needed him most. Specifically, he stayed with Nathan Eovaldi after his epic, damn near heroic, performance in game 3 of the World Series. Into the wee hours of the night, he remained by his side and showed the whole world what it means to support your teammates. Some would argue he knew cameras would follow Eovaldi and wanted to get the attention (the thought has crossed my mind once or twice), but I still respect Price for the act of selflessness after what was a mentally and physically exhausting game. Everyone just wanted to go home and rest, but Price felt compelled to stay.

Words I honestly never thought I would type: I respect David Price. He earned my respect by mostly keeping his mouth shut and pitching, which is what I have been hoping he would do for the better part of 3 years now. Price pitched really well when the season was on the line and his teammates needed him to step up. Respect is earned or lost over time and his vault was damn near empty before late October until he put it in high gear and pushed the Red Sox past the finish line. His willingness to come out of the bullpen on short rest and contribute in whatever way possible earned my respect.

On the flipside, every time he opens his mouth, even in victory, he sounds like a conceited dick. He can’t go 2 minutes without sounding like either a)he doesn’t care, or b)he is completely void of joy. Even when the words coming out of his mouth are what you want and expect from someone in that position, he sounds like he’s reading off a cue-card (not a well written one mind you). After re-watching this video over and over, the player he most reminds me of is J.D. Drew. Similarly, Drew struggled most of his time in Boston, but had a big moment or two in the postseason. Mr. Personality.

Ultimately, everyone needs to make their own assessment on Price, but he earned a significant amount of respect in my book and my opinion on him has dramatically improved (to be fair, it was so damn low before that any improvement is significant). At this moment, I’m happy Price is a member of the Boston Red Sox and look forward to seeing what next year will bring, but respect and likability is fleeting. Especially for Price.

RIP 2018 Patriots Season

Photo from Orlando Sentinel

It’s an unfamiliar word for football fans in New England: failure. After losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, an already mediocre season (by Patriots standards) got worse and the playoff picture became even more concerning. The yearly expectation of Super Bowl or bust puts the stakes at almost impossible heights in New England, but year in and year out the Patriots defy the odds and find a way to make a serious run at a title. We, the fans, are conditioned to expect miraculous comebacks and never count the team out regardless of scenario. I would be willing to bet most of Patriot nation was watching the final drive of the Steelers game on Sunday expecting Brady to take the team down the field in less than 3 mins and score a TD to tie the game. I know I was. Unfortunately, this year is different for the Pats, and we should adjust our expectations now to avoid (more) disappointment later.

There is a laundry list of things that separate this year’s team from previous incarnations of Belichick’s squad, but the underlying theme is the same in all of them: focus and discipline.

The one thing that has always separated Bill Belichick-run teams from everyone else in football has been fundamentally sound, error-free football. Belichick’s teams rarely shoot themselves in the foot and often avoid damaging penalties at inopportune times. Enter the 2018 Patriots who don’t follow any of the usual markers of the Belichick reign. Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh is the freshest and most glaring example of change in 2018. The officials were (admittedly) calling the game tighter than normal, leading to more penalties, yet the worst yellow flags for the Pats were self-inflicted and mostly pre-snap. The Pats had a total of 14 penalties costing them 106 yards, 5 were pre-snap (4 false starts and 1 delay of game). Give Pittsburgh fans credit, the stadium was rocking in the 4th quarter, but rarely do you see a Belichick coached team have 2 terrible false start penalties in a close game in the 4th quarter, even on the road. It’s all about mental focus.

One of the more telling stats about focus and discipline is the team’s 3-5 road record. Mentally fragile or weak teams let road environments get in their heads and force them off their game. Belichick prides himself in preparation, but this year the team seems wholly unprepared on the road (see false starts in yesterday’s 4th quarter and the Miami miracle – hell, the entire Miami game). When the going gets tough and the game gets tight on the road, the Pats seem to tighten-up and make the type of mistakes we expect to see from a Hue Jackson coached team.

On the offensive-side of the ball, the Pats have been wildly inconsistent. It comes down to the receivers. One of the most talked about stories this season has been the apparent rapid decline of Rob Gronkowski, whether because his body has been worn down over the years or because he is currently injured. He’s made a nice catch here and there, but mostly has been an invisible piece of the offense. Another piece for me appears to be effort from the other receivers. On paper, Edelman is having a normal season by his standards, but the last few weeks he’s failed the eye-test at times with some critical dropped passes that he would normally catch. Josh Gordon gets a lot of attention for a big, spectacular catch here and there, but overall he has a catch percentage of 58.8%, which is not what you want to see out of one of your top receivers who has Brady as his QB. I think all three receivers are suffering from a lack of focus at times during games.

When analyzing the team, the QB needs to get some attention. Brady overall is having an fairly normal year by his standards, but has been picked off 9 times already, tied for the most in a season for him since 2013 with 2 games remaining. One major piece to consider is that Brady is being put in a position to force more throws this year because the defense can’t keep the opponent off the scoreboard. It doesn’t excuse all the mistakes, like the awful INT in Sunday’s Pittsburgh game (100% on Brady), but does account for the uptick of risk in his game.

The defense has also been horribly inconsistent this year. Holding the high-powered Steeler offense to 17 points on Sunday was one of their better performances of the year. The weapons in the passing game for Pittsburgh are legit, so allowing more rushing yards to limit the passing game is a smart game plan. Previous games have resulted in an unusually high amount of blown coverages and missed tackles leading to massive days for their opponents. Stopping the run, a Belichick (Patricia) staple, has been beyond a struggle in 2018. In 8 of their 14 games this season the Pats have allowed 100+ rushing yards, including 5 games allowing 150+ yards on the ground. For perspective, the Pats allowed 3 games with 150+ rushing yards in 2017, 1 in 2016, and 2 in 2015 (regular season only). In fact, you have to go back to 2013 for the last time the Pats gave up 5 or more games of 150+ rushing yards and there are still 2 games remaining in 2018.


Historically, Belichick-coached teams turn it on in the 2nd half of the season, peaking in December leading into the playoffs. We have come to expect early season sloppiness trusting that things turn around later in the season. So far in December 2018 the Pats are 1-2, with two crucial, ugly losses. These two losses you might expect in September, not in the stretch run when the playoffs and a bye are at stake. They moved from fighting for the #1 seed to hanging on to the #3.

The struggles are clear, but why? Did the Patriots not bring in enough talent to compete? Are players not performing up to expectation? Is the loss of Matt Patricia more important than previously thought? I think the answer is yes to all, at least in part. The Pats have talent on both sides of the ball, but it isn’t enough. Their defense is easy to exploit by opposing offenses and their offense is forced to come-from-behind and play well outside their comfort zone most weeks.  Now slipping to the #3 playoff spot forces the Pats to play on Wild Card weekend and likely go on the road for the Divisional round if they are lucky enough to get a win at all. 

There’s always a chance for a strong run in the postseason with Brady and Belichick, we’re conditioned to always believe, but at this point, a deep run in 2018 would take a true miracle.

The Fall of Dustin Pedroia

Photo Credit: Brian Phair

One of the more difficult things to watch with the 2018 Boston Red Sox was the struggle of Dustin Pedroia to fight through knee issues and get on the field. In October 2017, Pedroia underwent a cartilage restoration procedure on his left knee after being bothered by the issue during the entire 2017 season. The expectation when he had surgery was that Pedroia would spend 7 months recovering, and given the timeline, would miss the first 2 months of the 2018 season. Most hoped, and expected, Pedroia would be back to throwing his body around the infield at Fenway Park at some point during the season. To much excitement, Pedroia did return to the Red Sox lineup on May 26th, but unfortunately, he played in just 3 games before undergoing another arthoscopic procedure in July and then being shut down for the remainder of the 2018 campaign officially in September.

Pedroia’s value to the Red Sox organization since his first full year in 2007 is almost immeasurable. His attitude, grit, and leadership helped lead the team to 3 World Series Championships (2007, 2013, and 2018), even when dealing with injuries and sitting on the bench. He isn’t afraid to speak his mind and challenge teammates, but most of his leadership has come by example. When on the field, he gives 100% effort at all times, which is admirable, but also some of the reason he is currently struggling to return from his knee injury. His face is synonymous with the Red Sox brand over the past decade.

There are still a lot of questions around whether Pedroia will be ready for opening day in 2019, and personally, I question whether he returns to the field again at all. If the Peddy era isn’t over yet, then it’s pretty damn close to the end. We are not likely to see the everyday player we once did, even if he does return, and any contributions on the field at this point are a bonus. It’s the end of an era, even if the word retirement isn’t in his vocabulary.


When looking at Pedroia’s place in Red Sox history, it’s a fascinating and challenging one. For those statheads who like the WAR metric, Pedroia has the 10th highest WAR of any player in Red Sox history (52.1), just behind his friend and teammate, David Ortiz (52.7). That puts him in an elite category or former Red Sox greats, ahead of Bobby Doerr, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, and Luis Tiant (among dozens of others). I know WAR isn’t the end-all, be-all stat, but there is no such thing as one stat that tells an entire story.

For those who don’t believe in WAR, or at least question it’s importance in the game, here are a few other interesting Pedroia numbers. Pedroia’s 1,803 hits rank 8th and his 921 runs scored rank 10th all time in franchise history. He ranks 9th in at-bats (6,011), 9th in plate appearances (6,756) and 8th in total bases (2,647). Amazingly, Pedroia ranks 6th in doubles (394) and 6th in stolen bases (138) in franchise history (although Mookie Betts is just 28 stolen bases behind Peddy). If he was to retire today, Pedroia’s career batting average would be exactly .300, which means relatively little, but is a fun fact.

While Pedroia is not likely a National Baseball Hall of Famer, he should be a Red Sox Hall of Famer. When comparing his numbers to the greatest to put on the Red Sox uniform, his achievements are incredible and in some cases, surprising. We take for granted his impact because he played in the shadows of big power hitters like David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez and with important figures like the Captain, Jason Varitek, but he can not be overlooked.

Let’s hope there is more to the Pedroia story and he builds on his legacy over the next few years, but I’m not holding my breath. If this is the end for Peddy, then he can walk away from the game with his head held high. Rookie of the Year, MVP, 4x Gold Glove Winner, 4x All-Star, Silver Slugger Award Winner, and 3x World Series Champion. That’s one hell of a career. 

*All stats courtesy of BaseballReference.com.

2019 is Critical for Rafael Devers

AP Photo/John Minchillo

The 2018 season was amazing for the Boston Red Sox. A franchise record 108 regular-season wins, wins against the 100+ win New York Yankees and Houston Astros in the ALDS and ALCS respectively, and a convincing World Series victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 5 games. Everyone associated with the team felt great rolling into the off-season, but it’s now mid-December and 2019 has started to come into focus. The core components of the team are mostly returning with visions of back-to-back titles, but some questions still remain. One of the biggest questions is what to expect from the 3rd base spot.

After a breakout showing during the 2nd half of 2017, Rafael Devers appeared to be the next up-and-coming young star in the Red Sox lineup. His much talked about HR off of Aroldis Chapman on August 13, 2017 brought national attention to the young 3rd baseman. He showed his tremendous power and clutch gene by hitting a 103-mph pitch for an opposite-field, game-tying HR. The raw power and talent was apparent and most, myself included, figured his early success showed he was only scratching the surface of what he could really accomplish. Many figured that after a full spring training and a spot on the opening day roster in 2018, Devers would come into the year confident and ready to roll. He started the year off strong, but then struggled to maintain success as pitchers figured him out.

On April 19th, 17 games into the season, Devers was hitting an even .300 with 3 HRs and 17 RBIs. Pretty damn good for a 21-year old who hadn’t even reached 300 career plate appearances yet. Unfortunately, things began to unravel after that point. He hit just .171 during the remainder of April with 1 HR and followed it up with a .212 May with 5 HRs and just 7 RBIs. From May 15th through the end of the regular season, Devers appeared in 81 games and hit just .231. He had 3 stints on the DL with shoulder and hamstring issues which certainly slowed him down, but even when healthy, he looked over-matched and confused much of the time at the plate and in the field. All young players struggle at times, but this was a prolonged streak of mediocrity that was concerning.

Devers rebounded a bit in the postseason, hitting .294 in 11 games, but his power was mostly absent (1 HR). Instead of being a feared middle-of-the-lineup hitter, he was a decent bottom 3rd type of player with the ability to get on base occasionally (he hit 5th in the first 2 games of the postseason, then 6th, 7th, or 8th in the other 9 games). It was clear his stock had fallen and his defensive struggles were even more amplified with his cold bat. He suddenly became more of a platoon player than an everyday lineup mainstay.


After a challenging season, 2019 is a make-or-break year for the young 3rd baseman. If he struggles for a 2nd year in a row, the Red Sox may need to consider moving on from the young star and trying to find stability with someone else. The good news: Devers appears to understand the situation he’s in and has re-committed himself early in the offseason to be in better shape and ready for opening day. 

On Wednesday, many reports out of the winter meetings were that Devers had hired a nutritionist and personal trainer this offseason to improve his conditioning in the Dominican Republic. This is great news, because the 237lb 3rd baseman looked out of shape at times in 2018 and had multiple injury-related issues. Alex Cora told the media that Assistant GM Eddie Romero went to visit Devers in the Dominican and he looked great. While you can never really believe what the manager says about a player, the fact that Devers hired professionals to help him get in shape this early in the offseason is a great sign.

I still believe Devers is the Red Sox 3rd baseman of the future and a potentially scary middle-of-the-lineup bat going forward, but am a bit more cautious than a year ago. Will 2019 be a breakout season for the 22-year old they call “carita” (babyface)? Let’s hope so.