It’s September 24th, 2004 and Pedro Martinez had just been rocked by the New York Yankees. It was the second straight start that the Yankees humiliated the Red Sox ace. Across two starts, New York humiliated Martinez for 13 runs on 17 hits in 12 1/3 innings (9.49 ERA, 1.78 WHIP). Boston continues to slide in the standings as the AL East looks out of reach. Fans in Boston are panicking. The Red Sox were coming off a crushing 7 game series loss to the Yankees after Aaron Boone hit the crushing walk-off homer in 2003. Boston had not won a World Series since 1918 and everyone called them cursed. September 24th, 2004. That’s when everything changed.
“I mean what can I say? Just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddies.”
It was that moment when everything changed. The Red Sox played like they had nothing to lose and it started with Pedro’s interview. In an instant, it almost felt like the pressure had been lifted. The elephant in the room had been talked about. Hell, they even called themselves the idiots!
After an easy three-game sweep over the Angels in the ALDS, the Red Sox fell down 3-0 in the ALCS. All hope seemed lost. No team had ever overcome that deficit in baseball history! BUT… Things were different. The Red Sox tipped their hat, called the Yankees their daddies, and never went away. By now you know the story. If you don’t, please stop what you’re doing and go watch 4 Days in October. It started with Kevin Millar claiming the Yankees better not let them win tonight. Millar walks, Roberts Steals, and Papi becomes the hero. Then it was David Ortiz again the next night. Curt Schilling’s bloody sock in game 6. Johnny Damon’s grand slam in game 7 and the so-called idiots pulled off the impossible.
What no one talks about is that day the modern-day Red Sox found their identity. – They were scrappy. They were tough. They were grinders. Most importantly, when things became tense, they were sure as hell were never going to beat themselves and give up. No one blinked and no one crumbled under pressure situations. It’s what made me love the Red Sox. I had started liking the Red Sox from the time I was little because they were my first t-ball team. I wanted to be like Pedro Martinez and learn the art of pitching. But what made me love the Red Sox was that never quit attitude. As a kid who struggled with mental problems even early in life, the Red Sox taught a young kid (myself) that no matter how bad things became, no matter how low the odds were, I was going to fight. If the Red Sox could pull off the impossible, then so could I. That bond and that moment could never be replaced as I still live by that today.
The funny thing was when Boston kept winning – they kept that same formula. In 2007, they trailed the Indians 3-1. There was never a panic. We had been here before. They had a midget playing second base who jumped on every single ball thrown by the pitcher. That guy won rookie of the year, Dustin Pedroia. Does anyone epitomize that grinder mentality than Pedroia? They still had David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez but they also had new faces like Josh Beckett who was nothing but nails in October. They even had a guy who beat cancer throwing consistent gem after consistent gem. If you think Jon Lester was scared of cancer, then the playoffs sure as shit were nothing to him.
The Red Sox even won the World Series in 2013 and that team was terrible. The city was devastated after the Boston Marathon bombings and baseball was some people’s only outlet. The 2013 team was more relatable than ever. They were just grinders who grew beards and rallied around the city. I’ll never understand how a team full of washed up vets like Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Johnny Gomes, and David Ross won a World Series but they were Boston. – They were scrappy. They were tough. They were grinders. Most importantly, when things became tense, they were sure as hell were never going to beat themselves and give up. No one blinked and no one crumbled under pressure situations.
Growing up as a kid I hated the Yankees. It was easy to hate them growing up as a Red Sox fan but you had to respect them. They knew what they were long before the Red Sox did. They were intimidating to look at. The Yankees players tended to be bigger and all of them looked like they came out of some sort of factory. You have to respect the way the late, great George Steinbrenner’s aggressive nature. He was never satisfied. He always wanted to improve the team and no dollar amount was ever too high. He loved winning.
The funny thing is, when the Red Sox found their way, the Yankees slowly started losing their identity. Since 2000, New York has won just one title. That title came during Steinbrenner’s last big free agency slash when he added Nick Swisher, A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia, and Mark Teixeira in one offseason! They paid homage to Steinbrenner winning one last time for their legendary owner. Outside of that, things haven’t been quite the same for New York.
Hal Steinbrenner, George’s son, had taken over the team. He didn’t love baseball the way his dad did. Hal was focused on reducing payroll. Hal wanted to stay away from personnel decisions. He let Brian Cashman take the reigns. Up until this year, the Yankees had paid the luxury tax every single year it had been in existence. This year, Hal reduced the payroll to $168.54 million, the 7th highest payroll in the sport. All of the sudden, the Yankees didn’t feel like the Yankees. They felt like the early 2000’s St. Louis Cardinals who tried to improve in the margins and save every penny they could. That was the beginning of the end and led to Boston’s 3-1 series win over the Yankees in the 2018 ALDS.
The culmination of Boston’s 2018 Division series win over New York began in 2015. Dave Dombrowski was hired to become Boston’s general manager in August of 2015. New leadership was needed in Boston. The boy genius Theo Epstein had skipped town in 2011 and started his own juggernaut in Chicago. Boston didn’t have a big boy general manager during that time and even finished in last a couple time during that stretch. Dombrowski was in charge of bringing that Red Sox identity back. Red Sox fans knew what they were in for. Dombrowski was known for his aggressive nature and it’s what the Sox needed.
During that same time, New York was also starting to experience their own struggles. They were starting to get really old from those mega contracts that had been signed by the old owner. Brian Cashman was tasked with rebuilding a young core that the Yankees could move forward with. It was a perfect storm. The Red Sox and Yankees were rebuilding a new series of dynamite teams and it was only a matter of time until they were going to meet in the playoffs.
What separated Boston from New York in the ALDS simply came down to Dombrowski vs. Cashman. It’s time for Brian Cashman to take a page out of Pedro’s playbook. It’s time for Brian Cashman to call Dave Dombrowski his daddy. Not just because he was out schooled by Dombrowski, but because the Yankees have truly lost their identity.
Let’s take a look at the key decisions that cost the Yankees a series win in 2018.
The Chris Sale Trade:
Dombrowski’s first tide turning move as the Red Sox gm was trading for Chris Sale. Dombrowski had already signed David Price and traded for Craig Kimbrel but wasn’t enough and Dave knew that. Nothing is more important in the playoffs than penciling in wins with starting pitching. The Red Sox did not have that ace they could turn to in October and just to go simply win a damn game before it ever started. Dombrowski pushed his chips to the center of the table and did whatever it took to land Sale. He was even critiqued for possibly giving up too much. Can you imagine how silly that sounds now? Handing over the number one prospect in baseball (Yoan Moncada) and a very highly rated hard-throwing lefty (Michael Kopech) was no small price to pay but Dombrowski didn’t care. He knew Sale was nails and it was time to win now.
The most fascinating part of the Yankees roster construction in recent years is that New York consistently passed on those opportunities. He not only didn’t try to land Sale, he called the Red Sox the Warriors and smiled with a weird grin like he had somehow thought that Boston overpaid for Sale. Probably because Cashman has been penny-pinching in recent years. Cashman weirdly folded his hand like a peasant and continued to sit on his hoard of prospects. It was something the old Yankees just never did. The old Yankees had you beat and then wanted to murder you more even after you were already dead.
You can question Dombrowski for his decisions but what you can’t argue is that no one has more guts to get a deal. Cashman never just put his nuts on the table and did whatever it took to land an ace, something Dombrowski did in the Sale deal. It was one thing to let Sale pass. The problem was Cashman kept letting aces go by, refusing to add the clinching prospect to get the deal done. He let Houston trade for Justin Verlander. A guy that you just pencil in W’s for in October. Worse yet, Verlander was the sole reason Houston beat New York in the postseason last year.
Then again this year it happened. Gerrit Cole hit the market. New York had built up a loaded farm system and Cole was perfect for them. They had players to burn in a deal. New York literally has so many guys that they don’t even have space on their 40 man roster without losing a quality player. This was the guy they needed. New York had even drafted him in the first round before Cole decided to go back to school and eventually became the number one pick. BUT… Again, it was Jeff Luhnow of the Astros who made the move. Luhnow became the aggressor and handed the Pirated a bunch of scrubs to land Cole. Don’t ask me how terrible Joe Musgrove headlined a deal. Cashman meanwhile sat on his ass again and failed to deliver an ace. Clint Frazier, Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield, Estevan Florial, Jonathan Loaisiga, etc, etc, etc, etc apparently could not be parted with. Cole, 28, went 15-5 with a 2.88 ERA and 1.033 WHIP across 200 plus innings would have given New York it’s ace but Cashman became passive.
Sale is scrappy. Sale is tough. Sale is a grinder. Most importantly, when things became tense, Sale sure as hell was never going to beat himself and give up. No one blinked and no one crumbled under pressure situations. Chris Sale is Boston.
Failing to acquire an ace was Cashman’s first blunder.
Giancarlo Stanton vs. JD Martinez
Boy were the Yankees praised this offseason. How could they land a player like Giancarlo Stanton and still remain below the luxury tax? Cashman had really done it! Adding an NL MVP to a team that came just short of a World Series appearance! What could go wrong!
The Yankees added Giancarlo Stanton and all Dave Dombrowski did was laugh. He laughed because, in the same offseason, he somehow managed to acquire an even better slugger. Better yet, no one talked about it or at least mentioned it in the same light as Stanton.
FINAL REGULAR SEASON STATS
J.D. Martinez, #RedSox ($23.75M)
Giancarlo Stanton, #Yankees ($25M)
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) September 30, 2018
Martinez didn’t just outplay Stanton, he brought a culture with him. Martinez was everything the Red Sox needed. 5 years ago, Martinez was released by the Houston Astros. Dave Dombrowski took a chance on him during his tenure with the Tigers. Martinez became obsessed with becoming a great player. He filmed his batting practices (and still does). He became a true baseball nerd and started reinventing his swing becoming enamored with metrics to help make him great like launch angle.
Meanwhile, Stanton sat happily with a ten-year contract worth $295 million. Stanton gets away with swinging the bat like a moron, he’s just so big that if he gets ahold of it, that puppy flies. Martinez wasn’t happy with his contract despite the 5-year, $110 million payday. He added three separate opt-outs because he was convinced he was going to outperform the contract. Stanton is a home run hitter. Martinez is a pure hitter that can do whatever he wants in a given at-bat. When times got tough this season, Stanton blamed struggles on furniture. When times got tough for Martinez, he reviewed the film and continued to grind.
Things became very clear in October. The Sox got the better player. When things got tense, Stanton crumbled. When the pressure was on Martinez, the guy did nothing but come through.
2018 ALDS STATS: JD Martinez / Giancarlo Stanton
AVG: .357 / .222
OBP: .421 / .222
SLG: .571 / .222
OPS: .992 / .444
RBI: 6 / 0
SO: 0 / 6
— Tucker Boynton (@Tucker_TnL) October 10, 2018
Martinez is scrappy. Martinez is tough. Martinez is a grinder. Most importantly, when things became tense, Martinez sure as hell was never going to beat himself and give up. No one blinked and no one crumbled under pressure situations. JD Martinez is Boston.
Chalk it up as another point for Dombrowski over Cashman.
Alex Cora vs. Aaron Boone
The Red Sox and Yankees both made the playoffs in 2017. They also both fired their managers. Baseball was getting younger and more advanced. Both teams felt like a changed needed to be made. The elephant in the room that no one talked about is that New York was about to make a GIANT mistake. Boston’s change was necessary.
My entire life, the Red Sox never had a better manager than the Yankees. The days of Joe Torre being cool, calm, and collected scared me to death. That man was always on point. The Red Sox countered with Grady Little who did nothing but vomit on himself. He was fired and the Red Sox found another manager in Terry Francona. Tito was fantastic but he wasn’t a baseball savant like Torre, he was just the guy’s guy. When Joe Torre got the boot, it was a moment of relief until I realized that Joe Girardi was going to take over.
The Girardi hire sent a cold chill down my spine. I knew it was a decade of trouble that was brewing. Girardi was the manager of the Marlins in 2006 and all he did was pull off miracles. Miami challenged for a playoff spot despite having a payroll of $15 million. They had a payroll lower than numerous MLB players and still almost made the playoffs. How the F*ck did he do it? To no one’s surprise, Girardi came to New York and kicked ass. His players constantly overachieved. From 2007-2017, no organization won more games than the New York Yankees. He even orchestrated their 2009 championship season. Girardi was fired after the 2017 season despite reaching the Game 7 of the ALCS just one-year after New York had become sellers at the trade deadline.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox were going through coaching hell. They went through the likes of Bobby Valentine and John Farrell. Both guys have IQ’s no higher than 60. The Red Sox finished in last multiple years despite having a very good roster. They were constantly underachieving, even when they were winning.
In 2018, the Yankees and Red Sox both hired new managers and once again, Dombrowski came out ahead of Cashman.
Dombrowski zeroed in on his new manager fairly quick. Alex Cora was his guy. Cora had just won the World Series as the Houston Astros bench coach. He had learned the Astros techniques behind advanced analytics. Learning the ropes from A.J. Hinch was the perfect mentor. While Cora never managed in the big league’s, Cora did manage in Latin America during winter ball and even took the reigns of Team Puerto Rico during the World Baseball Classic. Give Dombrowski credit. A lot of snotty, old, white Gm’s would have shied away from hiring a Latino manager. Dombrowski didn’t. Cora was perfect for Boston. He is smart, intelligent, and savvy with players. What may be more important is that he is bilingual. Something that more teams should really have invested in. Coaches who can speak both Spanish and English. It’s what makes Cora so hands on. Every player can communicate with the manager and brings the unit closer together. Trust me, it’s a bigger problem then you realize. I’ve seen it first hand. There are cliques in clubhouses. Cora has proven to be a great leader and can really connect with every player. It really makes you wonder how some teams don’t have coaches that speak Spanish?
On the flip side, Cashman took FOREVER to hire his next manager. Firing Girardi was dumb enough. Not having a replacement in mind was blasphemous. Boston officially hired Cora on October 22nd and was pretty much hired well before the Astros even finished their playoff run. Cashman officially hired Boone on DECEMBER 1st! The most hilarious part of the never-ending process was the fact that Cashman interviewed 6 different candidates. Carlos Beltran, Hensley Meulens, Rob Thomson, Eric Wedge, Chris Woodward, and Aaron Boone were all interviewed. The most disgusting thing about this is that the Yankees are essentially a cult. They refused to interview anyone who didn’t have previous ties to the Yankees. Does anyone understand how insane that is!
If Aaron Boone had never played for the Yankees, he would have never been interviewed. To this day, if Aaron Boone never hits the home run in 2003, we have no idea if he would have gotten the job. Boone had no managerial experience. Boone had spent his post-playing career at ESPN. His famous schtick was imitating batting stances. Hiring a manager with no coaching experience was crazy enough. However, hiring a guy who really was only known for imitating batting stances was downright unthinkable.
The 2018 ALDS was really a battle of two rookie managers. One had feel and one did not. It was the first time in my life that the Red Sox had the better manager over the Yankees and it wasn’t hard to notice. Despite having an anemic bullpen, Cora played his cards perfectly. He used a bunch of smoke and mirrors with guys like Ryan Brasier, Brandon Workman, and Matt Barnes to get by a dangerous Yankees lineup. Boston won this series without a reliable 8th inning reliever in an age where bullpens are more important than ever. Cora even turned to his potential Game 5 starter, Chris Sale, in the 8th inning during the Game 4 clincher. It was a gutsy move but everything Cora touched turned to gold.
Boone’s mismanagement of his pitching staff was absolutely hilarious. Not a shock considering he has never coached in the playoffs before. There was the JA Happ ugly start. Happ was left in the game far too long. He gave up 5 runs in 2 innings and Game One was already over losing 5-4.
There was the Luis Severino debacle that still hasn’t been confirmed in Game 3. Was he late? Did he not know the start of the game? IF that’s the case, then Severino should have never started the game and been immediately benched. For those who don’t know, the game time is one thing but players get a mandatory report time for every game. If I had to guess based on working inside a clubhouse house. Game 3 was 7:40. Coaching probably got there at noon. Players probably had to report by 3:30. The home team always takes BP 3 hours before the game.
“There seemed to be some confusion as to whether Severino was late to the bullpen for pregame warmups, talk sparked by Ron Darling on the TBS broadcast. (VIA MLB.com) The network showed video of Severino playing catch in the outfield as pitching coach Larry Rothschild walks up to him to tell him first pitch is at 7:40, as opposed to 8:15 p.m. ET for Game 2 and the Wild Card Game. Severino was later shown first taking the bullpen mound at 7:32, only 10 minutes before he threw the game’s first pitch.”
Was Severino not out there during BP? Did he not show up before the report time? Why did he only give himself 7 minutes to warm up prior to the start of the game? I was at the game and I did find it weird that Nathan Eovaldi was warming up a good 30 minutes before Severino did and Eovaldi was pitching in the bottom half of the inning. IF any of those things are true, Boone should immediately be fired for not taking action. IF Severino was late, a real manager would have at least tried to figure out what the hell was going on. Getting a bullpen guy up quickly – handing it over to Happ. Whatever. All I know is that can’t happen. Severino was rocked and Boone let Game 3 get out of hand. Severino should have been pulled after 2 innings giving up 3 runs. Severino also allowed 7 hits registered at over 100 MPH. Boone kept him in the game and the Boston massacre in New York was on. Bases loaded in the third and in comes pathetic Lance Lynn who should never pitch in high leverage hands the Sox the win. When you get beat 16-1 that is a demoralizing loss. You don’t come back from those and Game 3 shouldn’t have ended that way.
Boone put the nails on his own coffin in the clinching loss in Game 4. CC Sabathia is an OG but he didn’t have it. Sabathia gave up 5 hits and 3 runs in 3 innings. Once again, Boone left his failing starter in too long. The Yankees bullpen responded with 6 innings and one run but it was too late. I haven’t even mentioned the minute details because I’ve already been typing for far too long. Benching Miguel Andujar in Game 4? Andujar was the only Yankee on the roster who had homered against Rick Porcello who happened to be starting. They lost 4-3 in Game 4 and Boone’s managing absolutely cost the Yankees the series, something that would have never happened with Girardi. New York was 7-0 in their last 7 at home in the postseason under Girardi. Aaron Boone has somehow managed lose both home games in 2018 with what was supposed to be a far better roster (according to idiot media members). Boone somehow lost a managerial battle with David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, Aroldis Chapman, and Zach Britton. ANY one of them would automatically get slotted into the 8th inning spot in Boston and that’s just something you hate to see.
Alex Cora is scrappy. Alex Cora is tough. Alex Cora is a grinder. Most importantly, when things became tense, Alex Cora sure as hell was never going to beat himself and give up. No one blinked and no one crumbled under pressure situations. Alex Cora is Boston.
Once again, Dombrowski had won the battle. He outclassed Cashman and hired the better manager.
The curious case of Nathan Eovaldi
It truly is flat-out embarrassing when you consider some of the lengths the Yankees went towards trying to cut costs. One of those decisions centered around Nathan Eovaldi, a promising young pitcher. Eovaldi spent the 2015 and 2016 in New York which was his age 25 and 26 seasons. Eovaldi had his ups and downs but there was no questioning his stuff. Eovaldi had easy gas. He hit 100 MPH without a problem and never walked anyone. Execution and an inability to eat innings was his downfall but those things were sure be corrected as he entered his prime years. Things took a turn for the worse in August of 2016 when Eovaldi needed a second Tommy John surgery. It was a terrible outcome but surely this wasn’t the end for him, right?
Later that season, Cashman made an odd decision to flat out release Eovaldi. Even if Cashman didn’t think Eovaldi would return to form, wouldn’t they want to do right by the player? I mean, the Red Sox guaranteed Jon Lester’s contract when he was diagnosed with cancer. Surely the Yankees would pay Eovaldi a low arbitration number. He wouldn’t even become a free agent until after the 2018 season. Even if the Yankees weren’t high on Eovaldi, what was the harm in keeping him on the 60 day DL? He wouldn’t even take up a roster spot at that point. There was truly no risk, especially for a guy who can light up the radar gun. The greedy Cashman didn’t see it that way and Eovaldi signed a dirt cheap contract with the Rays during the 2017 offseason. The deal was for $2 million with a $2 million team option for the 2018 season. What difference does $2 million make to an organization like the Yankees who essentially print cash?
The odd decision turned into an ignorant decision in a hurry. After New York ignored potential trades for starters, Eovaldi returned to form. The steady gas returned and he even learned a cutter that quickly turned him into a reliable starter. During the July trade deadline, both New York and Boston opted for starting pitching upgrades. Cashman decided to strike on JA Happ and Zach Britton. Dombrowski once again dropped his nuts on the table and went for the potential Yankee killer, Nathan Eovaldi.
Eovaldi finished the 2018 season with solid numbers. A 3.81 ERA is more than fine but all of his advanced numbers showed Eovaldi was truly hitting his stride. A 1.126 WHIP is ace-like. What Eovaldi was really acquired to do was pitch in October. Sure enough, Eovaldi would do just that in Game 3. Was he looking for revenge against his former team? You bet your ass he was. Eovaldi didn’t blink and threw 7 innings and 1 run of dominant stuff against his team.
So proud of you Nathan Eovaldi for your performance tonight! You’re a great gentleman, you have overcome a lot and I’m proud that you’re my Daddy for the night! You did damage #yeah pic.twitter.com/yDGbuzti5V
— Pedro Martinez (@45PedroMartinez) October 9, 2018
Eovaldi is scrappy. Eovaldi is tough. Eovaldi is a grinder. Most importantly, when things became tense, Eovaldi sure as hell was never going to beat himself and give up. No one blinked and no one crumbled under pressure situations. Nathan Eovaldi is Boston.
Once again, Dombrowski won the battle and this time the war. The starter that the Yankees needed in a postseason series was on their roster all along and they let him walk out of the door. They didn’t just let him walk out of the door, they let him go to save pennies.
I’m not saying Brian Cashman is a bad general manager but his mistakes were noticeable. Cashman has made his fair share of brilliant moves. Stealing Gleybar Torres and killing the international free agent market were among his best. However, when it came down to a clash against the Red Sox, he was outgunned and outsmarted by Dave Dombrowski.
What didn’t help his case was that he did nothing but give the Red Sox bulletin board material the entire season.
“You wonder what their record would be if they weren’t playing us.” Brian Cashman said in regards to the Red Sox record on August 1st, 2018. “Because when we go head to head, we do some damage against them and it doesn’t seem like anybody else is capable.”
What Cashman really sounded like was a jealous bitch who got outplayed. Nothing made me happier than watching the Yankees get pummeled. The Yankees brand is a cult that still enforces an idiotic rule that forces players to shave. It’s also considered shameful to put their last names on the back of jerseys. 15 years ago as dumb as that sounds, they got away with it because they had deep pockets and those pricks did everything imaginable to win. You had to respect it.
The current day Yankees are about pinching pennies and trying to take shortcuts to win. In the blink of an eye, the Red Sox became the big bad wolf. It was Yankees fans who became pathetic enough to chant “We Want Boston”. That’s when the light hit me. The Yankees had become David. The Red Sox were Goliath. The Red Sox were the team that exceeded the Super Tax and have a payroll at $240 million. The Red Sox were the team that bragged about their deep pockets. The Red Sox were the ones who hired the right coach. The Red Sox were the ones dropped their nuts on the table and acquired the players to win NOW. Boston stayed on brand acquiring grinders like Steve Pearce, Ian Kinsler, and Nate Eovaldi along the way to seal the win. New York has lost its brand and it’s why they lost the series. Instead of beardless champs, the Yankees have become beardless chumps.
Boston is 8 games away from winning their 4th World Series Title in 15 years. The type of dominance the sport hasn’t seen since the Yankees many years ago. Playing ‘New York, New York’ by Frank Sinatra in the clubhouse after the 2018 ALDS win was the icing on the cake.
What can Brian Cashman do to catch the Red Sox? It’s time tip his cap and call Dave Dombrowski his daddy.
The Red Sox, not the Yankees, are Baseball’s new Evil Empire.