CRAZY NIGHT. But then again, it’s that time of year.
If you are a sports fan, and we assume you are if you’re reading this, you had to make sure the batteries in your TV clicker were fresh for an overload of three local games. Tonight is another night just like it.
And while the Sox game was the only one of the above three NOT a playoff game, we’re going to deal with that one first, for several reasons.
For one, people around these parts tend to care more — as a rooting group — about the Red Sox than about either indoor team. For another, the Sox are struggling — badly — and we all know how fans around the area love to suffer.
In 2018, the Red Sox were 17-2 after 19 games and, as you probably know, went on to win 119 games and a fourth title of the century.
In 2019, after getting swept in the first two games of the season against the hated Yankees, they are 6-13 after 19 games.
You don’t have to be a math major to know 17-2 is better than 6-13. And 6-13 had the Red Sox a whopping 8½ games out of first place in the AL East.
The two games in New York were troubling for different reasons, which is pretty much how it’s gone so far.
In the opener, Chris Sale was better than he had been, but the Red Sox lost, 8-0. Boston then got a pair of early homers, built a 3-0 lead, stopped hitting and saw Ryan Brasier allow a game-losing grand slam to Brett Gardner.
To make things worse, just after DFA’ing Blake Swihart (a situation botched from the start), Dustin Pedroia went down again, amid fears this could be it for the second baseman.
The 2019 start is the worst by a defending champion since the 1998 Marlins. And while both teams were run by Dave Dombrowski, this one didn’t hold a yard sale after winning the title.
This one returned almost intact. We say almost because they don’t have Craig Kimbrel and the bullpen is a major question mark.
Is the hole too deep? Hardly. It’s April. But as our pal Bill Chuck tweets, “To equal last season’s record of 108-54, the Sox will need to go 102-41 a .713 percentage. In no 143-game stretch last season did the Sox have a winning percentage better than .685 (98-45).”
It should be noted, of course, they don’t have to play .713 to get into or survive a playoff race. But things can’t continue like this and they’re in St. Pete for what is an important early series with the raging Rays.
David Price isn’t pleased with the 2019 version of Jackie Robinson Day in MLB — and he’s not being quiet about it. But we’ll talk about that in a minute.
First, there’s what Price told Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, that it is indeed getting late early around Fenway.
“If we don’t start playing better, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, maybe myself, we could get traded,” Price said. “We’re, what, 30th in minor-league systems? We’re dead last. (If) we don’t play better, Mookie Betts will be traded, J.D. Martinez will be traded. It will be tough for a while here.”
Price, of course, elected not to opt out of his contract after last season, something Martinez can and is expected to do after 2019. Betts has another year of team control and is already at $20 million.
Clearly, these words are drastic.
Martinez is hitting .352, with four homers and a 1.017 OPS. Betts is struggling, at .200, with three homers, seven RBIs and a .676 OPS — with neither alibis nor production.
Sale is 0-4 with an 8.50 ERA, saying, “I’ve got to find a way to pitch better. This is flat-out embarrassing for my family, for my team, for our fans. This is about as bad as it gets.”
How important was it for the Bruins to survive Wednesday night’s Toronto comeback and even their series? Well, it’s tough for any team to overcome a 3-1 deficit; but for the Bruins, it is something they failed to do all 24 other times in their history when needing three straight to win a series.
The top line, split up at times during the game as Bruce Cassidy continues to show he’s never afraid to shake things up, delivered like it’s supposed to. Now, it’s a 2-of-3 and the B’s have regained the home ice advantage they had lost.
The Blue Jackets — not the Lightning — await the winner. The path would certainly appear to be there for a run to at least the conference final.
A 2-0 lead
Speaking of important, the Celtics went up 2-0 in their series with the Victor Oladipo-less Pacers by taking over down the stretch in a game of extreme swings. By winning, the Celts placed history on their side: 93.4 percent of all NBA teams winning the first two games of a series at home have gone on to win that series.
“It was a gritty win but we understand the team we’re playing against, veteran team,” said Kyrie Irving, who had another huge night. “So we have to stay locked in and I think we did a great job of that.”
Irving, who scored 37 points, was 6-for-10 from 3-point range, becoming the first Celtic since Paul Pierce in 2011 to score 30 and hit at least six treys in a playoff games.
Just not right
Back to Price and Jackie Robinson Day.
“Hey @mlb every year on April 15th we celebrate Jackie Robinson Day ... EVERYONE plays on that day next year, deal?” Price tweeted. “No one should have an off day, let alone 10 teams!! … 1/3 of @mlb teams had an off day on Jackie Robinson day ... I just can’t wrap my head around that. We’ve had a problem for a while and this couldn’t make it any more noticeable.”
His manager agreed. Alex Cora said, “Just reading it and thinking about it, it makes sense. To play that day — everybody plays. The league will take a look at it. Maybe he’s right about this and then the league will make an adjustment. It’s a special day for everybody. In my opinion, yes. He’s right about that.”
Price spoke with commissioner Rob Manfred and player association chief Tony Clark via telephone on the issue.
Here’s hoping all 30 teams play on April 15 next season.
Finally, the Red Sox and Yankees came into Wednesday night’s game with a combined 13-21 record, for a .382 winning percentage. It was the worst percentage in any game between the rivals since Sept. 13, 1925 (.360 percentage).
By the way, the Red Sox beat the Yankees 2-1 that day, with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig combining to go 0-for-7 for the Yankees in the game in the Bronx. It was Boston’s 40th win in 136 games on the year.
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.