Big, big, big.
We've had movies like The Big Chill, The Big Lebowski and, simply, Big. Geographically, California has Big Sur, New Orleans is The Big Easy and New York City is The Big Apple.
The Big Ten and Big East are two of the most recognized conferences in college sports. Boston had its Big Dig. McDonald's has its Big Mac and Billy Joel sang about the Big Shot. The Celtics have had a pair of Big Threes and Big Papi is a baseball star and cultural hero. Archie Bunker constantly referred to World War II as The Big One and the President likes to use the word "Big-ly."
The 2019 Red Sox?
How about The Big Tease!
To paraphrase The Godfather, every time you try to get out they pull you back in.
It has happened to the fans time and again in this strange season, the latest example coming over the weekend against the floundering Angels.
Thursday night, win. Friday night, a loud win. Two straight victories and the second wild card spot was just 5½ games out of reach. Here it comes: the run at the playoffs. You heard it all again –- just get in and anything can happen. After all, these are the defending champions, right?
It was time to get back on the bandwagon.
But then came The Big Sleep over the weekend.
The Angels ended their eight-game losing streak, scoring seven runs in the seventh inning – including Mike Trout's first Fenway homer – en route to a 12-4 rout. Sunday was more painful – the bullpen again blowing a late lead and LA winning, 5-4, in 10 innings.
Just like that the Red Sox boarded their plane for three games against the sizzling Indians in Cleveland – the Indians’ three scheduled starters a combined 25-9 coming in. Entering Monday's series opener, Boston was 7½ games out of the second wild-card spot, and the Texas Rangers were again nipping at their heels.
Stating the obvious, Alex Cora said, “We’ve been inconsistent. It’s tough to make the playoffs (when you’re inconsistent).”
Dave Dombrowski, under siege for not making a pitching move at the deadline, had the Andrew Cashner acquisition and Nathan Eovaldi’s return as additions to the staff. How’s that working out for him?
Just a hunch, but I think if David Price was healthy Cashner may well have earned himself a DFA with Sunday’s disaster that put the staff in a deep hole. Cora was left with the undesirable choice of leaving Matt Barnes in for a second inning and Barnes torched the lead by allowing Kole Calhoun’s homer. The failed save, many of them occurring before the ninth inning, was the 22nd of the season in 45 chances. You do the math on that one. It’s not pretty.
Sunday’s loss was bad on so many levels.
First, Cashner, falling to 1-4 with a 8.01 ERA in a Red Sox uniform (the opposition hitting .339 against him) lasted just 1-2/3 innings, walking five and allowed just three runs as Josh Taylor stranded three inherited runners. In the bottom of the first, down by a run, Rafael Devers doubled and then, for some reason, unsuccessfully tried to steal third with Xander Bogaerts at the plate and J.D. Martinez on deck.
The bullpen – keyed by another impressive effort from Taylor, a lefty with promise – kept things close. But then Barnes lost the lead and Ryan Weber lost the game. All this after pinch runner Mookie Betts, getting the day off as a starter, was gunned down stealing as a pinch runner in the eighth and then failed to come through at the plate with a man on in the 10th.
All kinds of stuff that went right in 2018 continue to go wrong in ’19.
As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” But how do you like the chances?
Cora said the future of the staff was expected to be determined in a meeting in Cleveland Monday. “We’re not in a good spot,” he said. “So, we’ll sit down and see how we map it out.”
Weber was shipped back to the minors and Travis Lakins recalled Monday. Additionally, Michael Chavis landed on the injured list and Marco Hernandez was recalled.
The Red Sox will open the 2020 season in Toronto on March 26, with their home opener on April 2 against the White Sox. It will be the ninth time in the past 10 seasons the Sox will open the season on the road. The Yankees don’t come to Fenway until June 12 and the Red Sox will play the Orioles in Williamsport, Pa., Aug 23.
Based on this year, how important is the home field, anyway? The Red Sox are 30-30 at Fenway.
All MLB teams will open on the same day for the first time since 1968.
Nothing to worry about
Tom Brady, doing his weekly thing on WEEI Monday, downplayed the significance of he and his wife, Gisele, putting their Brookline mansion on the market (for a mere $39.5 million). The couple has homes all over the globe and Brady says nothing should be read into trying to sell this one.
“I certainly hope (folks don’t assume). You shouldn’t read into anything,” he said, adding it takes a long time to sell a home like this. "I am certainly at a place — we have been at the same place for a long time and I love playing for the Patriots. I have such a great relationship with Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick, and our team. We’ll worry about that when that happens. This isn’t the time to worry about it.”
Brady reacted to Antonio Brown's threat to retire rather than have to switch to the new and safer helmet, saying, "You get used to the same helmet for a long period of time. My last helmet, I wore it the last four Super Bowls, so it was a pretty great helmet for me. I hated to put it on the shelf. "It's kind of what I'm dealing with.
"I've been experimenting with a couple different ones, and I don't really love the one that I'm in, but I don't really have much of a choice."
Notes of note
In the seemingly never-ending search for receivers, the Patriots acquired TE Eric Saubert from the Falcons for a conditional seventh-round pick.
“Whoever makes it, makes it, that’s our coaches’ decisions,” Brady said. “So we have to come together as a team, and put our best team out there.”
Brady on a thinner Rob Gronkowski: “He’s down only 15 pounds. He’s 6-foot-7. He’s still a monster.” He added “We all support him” and the decision to retire … or not. ...
Both Marcus Walden and Brandon Workman were in position to get a win for the Red Sox on Sunday. Hard to believe the righties are a combined 15-2 this season. However, they are also just 9-for-16 in save chances. ...
Great note from Boston.com’s Jon Couture that we’ve updated after the two weekend losses: the Red Sox are a plus-86 in seven games they’ve won by 10 runs or more. They are 55-58 and a minus-26 in the other 113. ...
Finally, from our buddy Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram: “All Celtics broadcasters will return next season: Mike Gorman, Tommy Heinsohn, Brian Scalabrine, sideline reporter Abby Chin, and Celtics Insiders Sherrod Blakely and Chris Forsberg on NBC Sports Boston, and Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell on 98.5 FM.”
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.