SORRY, Red Sox fans, but the voters got it right.
Alex Cora won the World Series, but precedent kept him from being the AL Manager of the Year in his first season as a skipper.
Precedent. The award goes to the guy who takes a team that wasn’t supposed to go anywhere to a special place. Bob Melvin did just that, working with a low payroll, injuries and a bad start, and took the A’s to 97 wins and the postseason.
Cora finished second but I wouldn’t have had a problem if Kevin Cash got that spot.
Cora inherited a team that won 93 games and the AL East each of the last two years. After arriving in spring training, he was presented with a wonderful gift as J.D. Martinez was dropped right in his lap. Agent Scott Boras felt his client was worth $200 million, but no one agreed. The Red Sox were there with the $110 million and an opt-out after Season 2.
The Red Sox were the favorites to win the World Series.
The A’s were … well, they weren’t. Neither were the Rays.
This is not to even suggest that Cora didn’t do a great job running the Red Sox. He brought a new culture into the clubhouse, and while winning with less talent is tough, winning with enormous talent can be tough as well.
Cora did a great job, but he’ll have to be happy with 119 wins and the World Series ring.
Now, I do have one problem with the vote. One voter didn’t have Cora in the top three, voting instead for Aaron Boone in the third spot. That’s ludicrous.
The bye came at a perfect time for the 7-3 Patriots.
“I think at this time of year rest is always a good thing,” head coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday. “Also, practice timing and I’d say attention to fundamentals and details that sometimes get minimized a little bit when you’re doing heavy game planning and trying to handle weekly teams that have very challenging schemes and systems.
“It’s a balance between rest and improved fundamentals, improved execution in the things that we need to do better. I don’t think that we’re going to get that by just sitting around and resting, but rest is important and the health and energy of the team is important, so we’ll try to balance those things and do the best we can with our opportunity to maximize our time efficiency and the way we use it.”
While many think the Patriots checked out for their bye before the trip to Nashville, the loss by no means ended any title plans for this team.
That long opening kick return by Darius Jennings in Sunday’s loss at Tennessee just continued a pattern for the Pats.
Zack Cox of NESN points out the return continues a trend. He tweeted: “Patriots’ ranking in average kick return yards allowed: 2011: sixth; 2012: third; 2013: sixth; 2014: fifth; 2015: second; 2016: third; 2017: third;
“So far in 2018: 29th”
“Just working it,” Pats safety Devin McCourty said Tuesday when asked what has to be done. “I think a lot of it is kind of just leveraging and then tackling. So watching it, seeing it and then going out there and doing it on the practice field.”
There’s a different feeling regarding the bye when you win the previous game. It can be even worse when you’re dreadful in the previous game. The Patriots were dreadful at Tennessee.
“I just think the morale changes,” said McCourty. “I think it’s a better feeling coming in here obviously after a win going into the bye week. But I think no matter what, the work that we were going to have to do of coming in, self-scouting, seeing what we need to do — like that’s always been the same.
“This is my ninth year. I don’t remember when we’ve won or loss on a bye week but I remember all bye weeks kind of being the same — obviously depending on if it’s Week 4 bye week compared to like this year, Week 11, that changes a little bit. But the type of work and what we need to get done has kind of been very similar.”
Tis the season of mock drafts — and NFLdraftscout.com had the Patriots, at No. 29, taking, “Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame.
“Bill Belichick is too smart to allow a draft as loaded with star defensive linemen as this one slip by without replenishing his team’s depth up front. While lacking in consistency, Tillery flashes the ability to dominate and would be a potential steal at this point in the draft.”
The Bruins goalie was back at practice Tuesday, his personal leave over after a few days just as GM Don Sweeney said it would be. We don’t know exactly what happened and, frankly, it’s none of our business.
We tend to forget that these finely tuned athletes are just athletes and that’s it. Personal problems? Get over it. Heck, remember when one local radio talk show host suggested Al Horford charter his own plane to rejoin his team in Miami after the birth of a child.
Chill, folks. Back off. Rask had something to take care of and that’s just what he did. Jaroslav Halak played back to back and won both games, yielding just two goals before the team hit the road.
Now, we’ll have to wait and see how much the problem affected him ON the ice, where he clearly became the Bruins’ No. 2 goalie through the early going.
Rask spoke Tuesday after rejoining his team, the team he’s played for since 2007-08, the only NHL team he’s ever played for.
“This was a time,” said a subdued Rask, “that deep inside my heart I felt like I needed to take time to be with my family and make things right so I could be back here and focus on my job.”
He didn’t talk long, but he did talk, as he always does.
“Three days,” he said. “I’m back here. I’m back to work. And I’m ready to battle with these guys.”
Wants to stay
As people speculate over what the Red Sox will do regarding a closer in the likely event Craig Kimbrel leaves, free agent Joe Kelly made it clear he would love to stay in Boston.
Talking to CBS radio host Jim Rome, Kelly said, “I love being a part of the team and the coaching staff that we have, it’s going to be hard to ever find something like that again at a major-league level, at the professional level. Because it almost feels like the old travel ball days where you grew up with the team for multiple years where you stay the night at each other’s houses, you’re eating dinner with their parents.”
“And on the Red Sox it’s kind of one of those things, like we’re so close. There’s nights where we get 14, 15 guys on the team to play the exact same video game and we’ll play for three hours after a game, like we’re just that close. We go to dinners, we hang out, our families like each other and at the professional level, the big league level that’s not always the case where the families and all the wives get along, (but) everyone gets along so well.”
An interesting pitcher out there on the market is Colorado righty reliever Adam Ottavino, coming off a great year. He’s a Northeastern grad but here’s a potential problem: he’s from Brooklyn, which would apparently put the Yankees in the middle of the hunt.
Triumph Books has a couple of new Boston sports books out — both softcover and available now.
They both fall under the publisher’s heading of “If These Walls Could Talk.”
There’s Dale Arnold‘s and Matt Kalman‘s book on the Bruins (foreword by Ray Bourque) and Scott Zolak and Jeff Howe‘s work on the Patriots (Drew Bledsoe with the foreword).
The Bruins book has, according to the publisher, includes talk of the radio war between WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub in the Boston market. It also cites, “The Bruins’ role in helping the people of Boston recover from the Boston Marathon bombing and the devastation it left behind.”
In the Pats book, you’ll read about, among other things, “the story behind Robert Kraft buying the team in 1994.”
More reading: Old pro and friend John Powers has “Fridays with Bill – Inside the football mind of Bill Belichick.”
OK, since we’re talking about books, “The Hometown Team,” Steve Babineau‘s look at the Red Sox and Fenway Park through four-plus decades (yours truly with the words around the pictures) is still very much available on Amazon.