At the time of this writing, the Boston Red Sox’ pitching staff are once again getting shellacked by the Detroit Tigers. If this continues, Red Sox Nation will probably burn the city down by midnight.

ESPN’s Buster Olney is adding fuel to the fire by suggesting that the Red Sox troubles start and end with their apparent clubhouse rift and the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo suggests that the Red Sox may be focussing too much on September’s collapse. Globe writer Michael Vega suggests that Kevin Youkilis’ struggles are a microcosm of the team’s struggles and remarks that just two games in to the 2012 season, the campaign “seems to be taking on an eerie resemblance to last year’s 2-10 start.”

The conditions are ripe for a hyperbolic overreaction from the Boston media and Red Sox fans. They are, after all, a fan-base and media contingent that is prone to overreaction and doom and gloom; it’s a symptom of several decades of disappointing baseball, followed by a taste of success.

Manager Bobby Valentine is doing nothing to quell the situation by sitting Youkilis in favour of Nick Punto today, who he has proceeded to place in the leadoff spot ahead of Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. The notion that the Red Sox are actually going to lead off Punto when they don’t have to gives this Blue Jays fan a sense of pure joy that can only really be matched by a Blue Birds win.

If nothing else, the hysteria generated by a questionable Red Sox start is highly entertaining even if it’s unwarranted. The Red Sox are still a tremendously talented team with one of the best lineups in all of baseball. People forget that even with a 2-10 start and a 7-20 finish, the 2011 Red Sox won 90 games and needed an impressive surge from the Rays to miss the playoffs. They also scored more runs in 2011 than any other team in baseball.

It will be a challenge for the Red Sox to make the playoffs in 2012, but to suggest that they won’t at least be close it bordering on lunacy. Breathe BoSox fans; everything’s going to be fine.

And the rest:

Rockies manager Jim Tracy might be the worst tactical field manager in baseball and his lineup construction is a big part of that [Matthew Pouliot, NBC Hardball Talk].

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen made some comments about former Cuban President Fidel Castro and the largest and most successful propaganda campaign kicked into high gear. Guillen has since apologized for his comments [AP], but just once I’d like to see someone with a voice stand up against the media drone that makes Cuba out to be a horrible authoritarian state. Guillen shouldn’t have apologized, he should clarified his comments.

Did you know that about half the league is on pace for a 162-0 season? And that James Loney is on pace for a 162 RBI season? [Sam Miller, Baseball Prospectus].

If you don’t know about MLB Depth Charts than you need to head over there immediately. There is no more accurate accounting of every team’s Major League roster on the internet. They also offer some great original material, like this Q&A with Reds reliever Bill Bray [Andrew Martin, MLB Depth Charts].

Things were flip-turned upside down yesterday in Seattle when Felix Hernandez struggled, Chone Figgins shone and the Mariners won a baseball game [Jeff Sullivan, Lookout Landing].

Vin Scully is probably top five on my all-time favourite human beings list and he might have moved up a spot or two after giving T.J. Simers the gears [T.J. Simers, LA Times].

Doug Fister hits the 15-day DL with strained cartilage under his rib [Kurt Mensching, Bless You Boys].

For all your Getting Blanked needs, follow us on Twitter and “like” us on Facebook. Do the same for our friends at DJF [Twitter/Facebook].

Comments (22)

  1. This is a baseball blog you should try to avoid politics since you obviously are either stupid, profoundly ignorant of 20th century politics, or an authoritarian yourself. You write pretty well so you you aren’t likely stupid. What kind of state, other than a “horrible authoritarian” one like Cuba, does not allow its citizens to leave? How many people do you suppose have drowned or been eaten by sharks while attempting to flee the island, not to mention those imprisoned, tortured, or executed for holding the wrong political views. Think about that for a moment. What kind of country doesn’t let its citizens leave? It disgusts me that so many take our freedoms for granted and worse than that, make light of the real suffering people must endure in other less fortunate parts of the world. Is Cuba on the scale of N. Korea? No, but that isn’t setting the bar very high. Cuba is an authoritarian shit hole and Fidel is an unrepentant tyrant and murderer. In the future please refrain from sharing either your ignorance or authoritarianism, whichever was to blame for your unfortunate comments, and stick to baseball.
    Gareth. Vancouver, BC.

    • Shut up Gareth.

      • Take your own advice Gareth. “In the future please refrain from sharing either your ignorance or authoritarianism.”

        • except he’s right? I don’t think Ozzie should be forced to apologize just because I dislike the culture of ritual public apology as a form of shallow penance, and that Cuba isn’t as bad as NK doesn’t mean that an authoritarian state should be coddled or praised either. Just because a state is gloriously anti-American throughout its history doesn’t make it any less illiberal when it constricts virtually all political, social, cultural, and economic freedoms of its citizens and traps them in that state with coercive force.

          What other major baseball state, for example, drives its baseball players away from its national teams when they dare to actually exercise personal choice, travel, and play elsewhere? We’ve normalized Cuba and take its illiberalism for granted. Though it isn’t as ruthlessly bloody in terms of quashing political dissent and running a gulag system as it was decades ago, it’s still a Communist relic bearing all the brutal elements that Communist relics tend to have.

          even its purported accomplishments – healthcare, literacy, etc are quite dubious. What’s the point of gaining universal literacy when you’re greatly constricted in what you can read, and can get tossed in prison for reading the wrong thing? and having lots of doctors is lovely, but access to healthcare in Cuba is greatly constricted based on political power – their healthcare is great for this in the inner party circle, but gets quite a bit worse when you move out from that circle.

          not that the strong anti-communist Cuban lobby in Florida can’t have its excesses, but they get the benefit of the doubt for me just by virtue of their point of departure being opposition to the closest we’ll get to Soviet governance (one party politics, political prisoners, work camps, constricted speech, secret police etc) in the Western hemisphere.

          and if someone goes all “well it didn’t look so bad when I went down there,” I’ll scream. It’s like saying Jamaica is a paradise with few problems because you went to Sandals Jamaica. Countries look a lot better when you or your family can actually leave those countries without the threat of physical violence.

    • http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/jon-heyman/18406519/guillen-in-trouble-with-miamians-after-his-alltime-idiotic-comments

      from a baseball PR perspective, Heyman is a little hyperbolic but about right – Guillen is taking a giant dump on his fanbase, a fair proportion of whom had relatives or parents risk their lives to escape Communist squalor.

    • Ozzie’s statement about Castro & Cuba were dumb. Dictators can stay in power forever when they don’t allow free elections, or a free press ,jail their opponents & brutalize anyone that opposes them.

      If Cuba did allow their citizens to leave freely, there would be 100′s of thousands of refugees showing up on the shores of Miami Beach.

      The Cuban economy is in a shambles & the people are very poor .

      Ozzie should meet with the Cuban American exile community to discuss what is happeneing in Cuba.

      It will be a good day when the dictatorship ends .

  2. “Breathe BoSox fans; everything’s going to be fine.”

    I think this statement is far more contentious after what just happened.

  3. i gotta agree that whenever the djf guys drop in these throw-away political comments, it always feels out of place.

    • Luckily, I’m not a DJF guy…and also, I happen to have quite a bit of political knowledge, especially of Cuba. It turns out, I’m not a one-dimensional person who only watches baseball. I plan to write more extensively on that topic in the future, Stay tuned.

      • but specialization exists and gives credibility to knowledge claims. A movie star might have quite a bit of specialized knowledge in being an actor (like all the bloggers here have on baseball) and think that they have political knowledge and credible opinions, but it’s probably best for them to stick to their professional, specialized field where they have actual credibility, and not risk making an ass of themselves by verging into other realms where other professionals have specialized knowledge that the actor or baseball blogger lacks.

      • and I’m not necessarily saying “don’t have opinions” or “don’t care about politics,” but that certain things have their certain place. It’d be nice if people are humble enough to recognize that being smart at the thing that makes up your career (whether acting or baseball blogging) doesn’t mean that whatever political opinions you have are credible or knowledgeable, or that they should intrude into that career (like when baseball bloggers talk out of their ass about Cuba when they’re supposed to just be generally reporting on major happenings in MLB?)

        • I’ve never studied baseball at an academic institution, however I have for several years studied Cuba and the media. It is something I can actually speak quite intelligently on. Also, it’s quite alright that people don’t share my opinions, but having my “credibility” called into question and being attacked ad homonym is not something I enjoy.

          That and quite honestly, I don’t remember having a mandate to strictly and only ever talk about baseball. Even if I did, there happens to be more than a few connections between baseball and Cuba.

          Again, I don’t need you to agree with me, but don’t call my credibility into question when you really have no idea what it is I do for a living.

          • “see someone with a voice stand up against the media drone that makes Cuba out to be a horrible authoritarian state.”

            a) proper place: there’s obviously plenty to talk about dealing with Cuba and baseball and the relationship between Miami, the Marlins, and the local Cuban community. Empty cheapshots about the media manufacturing Cuba’s authoritarianism don’t really fit in there. Baseball blog =/= media criticism blog. That matters because if each institution is talking about the things properly in their domain, you can assume a certain level of credibility to the comments and commentator.

            b) credibility: I have no idea what you do for a living or who you are, but in the same way that comments about how the media manufactures the authoritarian reputations of Bashar al-Assad or Alexander Lukashenko would damage the credibility of the speaker because the preponderance of historical evidence is fairly far in the opposite direction, implying that the American Cuban lobby gives Castro a bad, unfair rap is both BS and an ugly, insulting snub to the thousands that his regime have either killed or imprisoned since the 60s. It’s beyond just a matter of mere differing opinions, and framing it as such weakens your own credibility as a speaker on Cuba more than I ever could.

            and, unfortunately, this could’ve all been avoided if political comments were left out of baseball commentary. There’s plenty to talk about re: Cuba and baseball, but your comments had nothing to do with baseball and don’t have the special institutional weight and credibility that baseball commentary here has, based on how you’re being paid ( AFAIK the main folk running these blogs are?) and given a platform presumably because you have some special expertise or knowledge on baseball that makes your voice a valuable contribution beyond just the average fan. None of those presumptions exist when authors here veer into politics.

            I don’t know what your comment moderation policy is, and whether I went over the line here, but I have seriously zero patience for denialism and willful blindness re: a historically brutal regime that’s still tossing people in jail for protesting or having the wrong opinion – the Diaz-Balarts didn’t just make that all up.

            so…go Jays? especially Yunel and Adeiny (and Jorge Soler? would be nice)

          • I enjoy discussing politics and so I like it when writers include their political opinions in their blogs. It’s great when they know what they are talking about and it can be funny when they don’t.

            On Guillen’s story specifically. It’s interesting to note that most of the original articles about the story badly misquoted Guillen by turning his respect for Castro avoiding assassination for 60 years into respect for him staying in power for so long. It is entirely possible to respect someone for staying alive against the odds while not respecting the length of time they’ve spent in power.

            Any time a complex political situation is framed in terms of good vs evil, as a couple of commenters have done here, there’s a good chance that the writer is not being objective.

            “implying that the American Cuban lobby gives Castro a bad, unfair rap is both BS and an ugly”. This is as nonsensical as suggesting that the anti-abortion lobby gives abortion a bad and unfair rap. Of course they do, that is their reason for being.

            Travis: I look forward to reading your follow-up on Cuba.

  4. Ozzie Guillen and politics don’t belong in the same sentence. Love his baseball career and he’s a fun manager to watch. But who cares about his views on politics?

    • because, at least in this case, his political ruminations can have direct consequences for how the potential fanbase views the club? Huge Cuban presence in Miami that is, in general, very anti-Castro (and for good reason)

      I don’t know if it’s a perfect analogy, but it’s like if the manager of a hypothetical Expos team went off on how he loves a figure that the Quebecois have a general antipathy towards – politics can intersect with the local baseball economy

  5. At least Cuba hasn’t been bombing and gassing the 3rd world for the past 50 years…

    • …except for Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and other African and South American countries where Cuba, either indirectly through influence or directly through military intervention, tried to sway various Cold War era conflicts in their favored direction?

  6. but just in terms of pure baseball, nobody has to make Cuba out to be a horrible authoritarian state – they do it to themselves pretty well. The state has such control over its citizens bodies, minds, and actions that the only reserve Yunel Escobar had if he wanted to live a free life as a baseball player was to risk his life on a raft and, also because of the authoritarian state, accept that he was going to lose all contact with his family.*

    But I don’t think anyone here should really listen that much to me, the original poster, or even Ozzie. Listen to Cuban dissidents, some of whom have died in prison as prisoners of conscience, like Oscar Elias Biscet, Wilmar Villar Mendoza, Guillermo Farinas, Laura Pollan and the Ladies in White, and Orlando Zapata Tamayo.

    *http://www.kansascity.com/2011/05/21/2892866/royals-pena-journey-to-the-states.html

  7. there’s no reply button above to Nohd, so doing it here:
    “This is as nonsensical as suggesting that the anti-abortion lobby gives abortion a bad and unfair rap. Of course they do, that is their reason for being.”

    the crucial difference being that most anti-abortion lobbyists haven’t been personally aborted at some point. Most anti-Castro lobbyists or partisans have either risked their lives themselves, and left their homes, property, and family behind, by leaving Cuba for the US, or had parents/grandparents do it. Disqualifying the experiences of people who have suffered under an authoritarian regime is incredibly offensive, and I think we’d all agree with that if we were talking about people suffering in Syria, Belarus, or Equatorial Guinea. But, for whatever reason,* we seem liable to downplay the extent of Castro’s brutality.

    *my two culprits are that Castro’s longevity has made him more cute and cuddly than your average authoritarian thug, and his anti-Americanism has made it easy to coddle him in places where that anti-Americanism is widely shared (a la Canada).

  8. So Travis, you are not stupid and you claim to have studied Cuba (whatever that means-write a thesis? read one book?) OK fine, let us say you are an expert on all things Cuba. If you still think it is a fine an dandy place to live then you are an authoritarian, period. Please answer the question from my first post, Travis. What do you call a state that won’t let its citizens leave?
    Gareth.

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