Enough politics. How about those Red Sox?
The week after the Red Sox’s World Series victory seems like the perfect time to revisit my preseason predictions and those of our panel of local experts (“The big questions,” April 5).
The panel consists of local Red Sox super-fans Wayne Farrin and Rick Newell.
First, a few words about the 2018 season.
Or, as Joe Castiglione would say: “Can you believe it?”
The Red Sox had their best regular season ever. Well, sure – they had plenty of talent.
But no one could have predicted that the Sox would win the World Series behind clutch performances from David Price, 0-9 in 11 playoff starts going into game five of the American League Championship Series, and the slugging of Steve Pearce, a journeyman utility player with a grand total of 90 home runs across 12 seasons.
I asked Rick and Wayne for their thoughts on the season.
“The most pleasant surprise was Alex Cora, A.C. to his players,” Rick said of the team’s new manager. “He had a vision and he communicated that vision and his players understood and bought into that vision and now they’re in the baseball history books.”
During the World Series, the team’s stars struggled at times. Chris Sale only lasted four innings in game one, while batting champion Mookie Betts hit .218. Good thing it’s a team sport.
“It was players like Steve Pearce, Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland, Rafael Devers, and others who played roles, understanding the importance of those roles and responding when called upon,” Rick said. “They were a joy to watch.”
Commentators and fans blasted Cora for every perceived mistake and second-guessed his every move. I, for one, shook my head when he announced that Price would start game two of the ALCS after his dismal performance against the Yankees in the AL Division Series. So much for 2018, right? Wrong.
“At the end was Cora’s unshakable trust in his players,” Rick said. “When you put it all together it was darn near perfect.”
I asked Rick and Wayne if they had any predictions for the offseason, after last year’s brought big changes with Cora’s hiring and J.D. Martinez’s signing.
“Of the pitching free agents, I would sign (Joe) Kelly, as he showed what he can do in the postseason,” Wayne said of the middle reliever who pitched in every game of the World Series and didn’t give up a single run. “I would let (closer Craig) Kimbrel go, as the cost will be too high and he was getting a little shaky under pressure.”
Wayne hopes the team will grow even stronger with a successful comeback by second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who sat out most of 2018 with a knee injury.
“I hope Pedroia gets healthy and plays for a few more years, as I think he is a huge inspiration in the clubhouse for the younger players,” Wayne said.
While some of us are just looking forward to more sleep after the late nights of the World Series, Wayne and Rick are ready for another season to begin and optimistic about what it will bring.
“I believe we are very well poised for a few good years ahead for Beantown baseball!” Wayne said.
“When does spring training start?” Rick said.
Our predictions are below, with the outcomes in parentheses:
Rick: Red Sox will win 93-98 games (108) and the division (yes).
Sale will win 20 games (12 – injury), Martinez will hit 30 home runs (43!) and Jackie Bradley Jr. will win his first Gold Glove (unknown).
Wayne: 20 wins for Sale, 30 home runs and 100 RBI for Hanley Ramirez (released in May), Betts joins the 30-30 club (yes – 32 home runs and 30 stolen bases).
J.W.: Sox lose the division to the Yankees (no), make the playoffs as a wild card (no), and advance to beat the Yankees in the Division Series (yes).
To read our full predictions, go to lcnme.com/opinion/the-big-questions.
It was a fun experiment. Who knows? Maybe we will do it again next year.
A little politics
After several weeks of commentary about negative mailers and other political issues, we hoped to make it through the final newspaper before the midterm elections without any additional griping.
We did, until another mailer showed up in Newcastle mailboxes shortly before press time.
An anonymous group or individual under the name “concerned citizens of Newcastle” has distributed a mailer that calls for a no vote on the town’s “character code,” which would replace the town’s land use ordinance.
We are not here to say the character code will be a good thing or a bad thing. We are not here to say the message of the mailer is accurate and reasonable or inaccurate and unreasonable.
We are here to say we believe the people behind local political mailers should clearly identify themselves.
Moreover, just like we in the newsroom give an anonymous tip less credibility than information from a source we trust, Newcastle voters should consider the anonymity of the mailer when they decide how much weight to give it in their decision-making.
The proponents of this code and the people who have spent literally years of really boring meetings to create it – with countless opportunities for public feedback – have signed their names to letters and commentaries that explain why they believe it will improve on the current system.
At least two opponents of the code have done the same – signed their names to letters in opposition to the code and stated the reasons for their opposition.
This is how debate should take place in a small town. Through civil and open discourse between neighbors, not anonymous sabotage on the eve of an important vote.
Oh, and one last thing: get out and vote!