Watching Arthur Chu Lose, And Understanding Life’s Struggles (And the Bruins)

Arthur Chu losing in Jeopardy, for some reason at 345AM, was something I had to watch before bed. His opponents got breaks on categories they were familiar with. He ignored his game-plan by wagering too much when he had a lead. He lost his composure as the game winded down. He underestimated his opponents’ ability to gain money quickly and let the clock run out. He underestimated his opponents to mimic his own game, which when he abandoned cost him his match.

This was a metaphor for competition you see in daily life. I learned nothing other than knowing watching Jeopardy is awesome! But it reinforced lessons I’ve learned in life on how to become better. You always have to prepare. If you have a winning plan, you have to stick to it. Take the big risks, but only if you have to. Don’t stray away from your game-plan. Don’t lose hope when the deadline pops up.

Saw this with the Bruins as well. But I have a totally different reason on why they lost, although it was similar.

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Dusin Pedroia’s Struggles and The 2B Decline

Dustin Pedroia’s best year will be remembered as coming about in 2011, and we will not see a grand exposition of his talent that great from now on. And the Red Sox fan, as well as the general fans of baseball, will come to realize this in 2014.

He still will be a great player. But his 4K performance against the Reds is a sign that his consistency in contact and pestering pitchers won’t be as stable moving on forth. He’s getting a little bit slower, garnering only two steals nearly 25% into the season (and with a green-light holding manager to boot).

This isn’t even a knock on Pedroia due to his surprising start, but more to the history of 2nd basemen and how they fare after their 31st birthday. Fangraphs had brought it up last year questioning how much Cashman should invest in Robinson Cano. There was even a better one that I wished was titled better, since the article can be a template/warning on all 2nd basemens’ value after their prime.

Adding to the last article, which talks of how the position puts a lot of physical stress on the players, Pedroia’s mentality toward the game has only accelerated the process. At the same time, it is that same mentality that makes him such a tough out, such a great hitter, and such a gold glove fielder.

The sad thing is, at some point ( and we could be talking 2017 here, folks) the wear n’ tear will outmatch his aggressiveness, and he won’t live up to the caliber that will be needed to get the Sox another title. I’m sure the organization’s recent contract was given to him as sort of a deferred-style setup, whereby the assume he’ll produce for the next 4-5 years, and he’ll essentially be paid $20+ million per year doing so.

It also helps because if he does continue to produce, they don’t have to go through the arbitration process or headache situation of whether they should pay a 38-year old player one extra year. Especially at a point where it becomes a marketing issue of having your face of the team retire as Red Sox.

Where it doesn’t help, and where the Red Sox might’ve created a dangerous situation down the road, is their long-term plan for Mookie Betts. You now have a situation of a player in decline alongside a rising star in the minor league ranks. You have a fanbase that wants to win, and a player that defined winning for this team for a decade. You have the statistics of all the 2nd basemen that have come and gone, and you have a trade-friendly contract that can be dealt if they choose to go that route down the road.

The Red Sox don’t sacrifice players in their system unless they get a valuable need in return, and 2012 might be looked back on how it brought about mistrust of management toward outsourcing talent in the free agent/trade market.

Betts, along with Jesse Owens and Bogaerts, might be the guys they want to be on the field in 3 years. Jon Lester and Pedroia made this team great for a long time; sadly, our young talent is knocking on the door, asking when that time might be up. Lester is more about the money, and the Red Sox have a choice to determine a future with Lester.

As with Pedroia, his future depends on being great. If not, the Red Sox will be coming upon one of the hardest decisions this organization has ever faced.

Why Has BJ Upton Declined; Can He Come Back after Rough 2014 Start?

BJ Upton over the 1st two weeks of the 2014 season has probably been the worst hitter in the league this side of Moustakas. And yet, it is mind-boggling to think that a guy who has 20/20 potential with a good eye can be so bad.

I can Sabr this whole matter and talk about his declining walk rate, anemic line-drive rate or his penchant to produce strikeouts with less ability to get on-base. But one of the biggest issues with BJ Upton is this: The spotlight got to him. Period.

When he was in Tampa, he didn’t initially have the pressure that comes with trying to produce against the best. Although the Rays built themselves into constant postseason contenders, Upton’s stardom could come from producing, and mistakes can be treated softly as he develops into a star.

But after his first couple of years, things started to change. After lazily shagging down a flyball Joe Maddon set him as an example and benched him. This happens a couple of more times, but I don’t correlate it exactly with how he stopped being productive. But what people did see was a young player who started getting ridden hard on how to play the game right.

And played the game right he did. Most of the time. He still was valuable with his defense and bat going through his “I’m a grown man now” years of 2007-2010. At the same time, going into his prime 20’s, his abilities were getting worse. You’d think that the moniker of laziness would wane as he was nearing his free agent sweepstakes.

But, even before then, Upton’s learning and adjustments had helped or decimated him throughout these seasons. He would change his bat stance, and voila! He’s batting .400 in July. But then struggles in September. Then gets his mojo back and kills Jon Lester in the ALCS.

The up and down, and his constant adjustments, I think are made out of fear. Where he was a great player in a team that *meh* its way through the first few years of the century, now was counting on him on a daily basis to help them win a championship. And guys who are lazy or don’t work to get their team in contention get spotted very quickly. Tampa and the Phillies made the mistake with Delmon Young, but each time only lasted about a few months (although Tampa did a “Fool me twice” maneuver by bringing Young back.).

BJ Upton works hard. He works smart. But when he has to step up, more times than not the spotlight kills his game. Where in 2006-07 if he didn’t time a steal attempt correctly, he could work on it as management waits for their young star to blossom. In 2010, management start murmuring “Should we put money down on this guy? He should’ve of been better by now.” You have fans saying “Desmond Jennings hasn’t been getting time so this clown can suck it up each year?”

Instead of taking the bad times in and honing it to get better, he is now constantly going through the mentality of producing under immense pressure that he suppose to be the star. He’s suppose to have the responsibility of getting the Rays to the World Series. When he didn’t have this responsibility or crowding media, he played well. When his talent and work ethic was questioned, he played worse.

And worse. And worse. And worse. Whatever reactions he had to his bad playing, it only manifested itself deeper in his next slump, or his next adjustment, or his next bad play. Instead of focusing on just being good, he then started focusing too much on hiding the hole in his bat with better mechanics. But what do mechanics mean, if you’re pressured to drive a 3-1 pitch down by 2 by swinging at an un-hittable breaking ball in the dirt? Now, he goes back to the tape.

“Stop swinging at those low breaking balls.”

Now he is so pressured to stay close to the inside zone, he’s letting outside pitches ring him up without him taking a shot. Goes to hitting coach.

“Hey coach, need to get my batswing pulling to drive those corner fastballs.”

And what happens is that he is so pressured to fix the past mistakes, that he forgets he’s fucking good and instead reacts to past mistakes by overloading his game to make up for him. By trying to fight his past self, he ends up dragging the same horrible BJ Upton to the plate. But, in a crazy conclusion to this cycle, he is essentially giving Tyler Durden more power. The evil BJ Upton, the one that has lost confidence in himself, that is constantly trying to make up for all his woes in one at-bat, shows up and gifts his opponents with an 0 for 4 bundled around 3Ks.

BJ Upton thinks leaving Tampa and finding solace amongst his brother and the Braves organization will fix things. But it can’t, because his game has gone south even though he’s made this move toward the North. And it has left him because he has left himself. He has let all the things that affect him control his ability.

If this were, let’s say, a Miguel Cabrera or Adrian Gonzales, one reason it could’ve been fixed is that these guys’ mantra is to get the bat on the ball, and let the pitcher lose touch of the plate by themselves. BJ Upton’s weakness is that he’ll let the pitcher dictate the count, but will falter trying to do too much with 3 balls in his favor. When he was 24, he’d let the pitcher give him first base. At 28, he’s a superstar. What does a BB mean to the best? What does it mean to win a pennant? Maybe it means a lot? Maybe not. Maybe he can steal when he gets on 1st…

… “Strike three called on the corner! Man, Upton looked really fooled there.”

Not fooled. Overwhelmed. Chipper Jones can help his swing, but he might need Dr. Phil to get his mojo back. The Braves are counting on him, but the murmurs are beginning to question his actual job. Let’s hope he plays to his talent; it’s great enough to keep his job all by itself. He just needs to realize that he’s great, and take on the responsibility of what a great player should be.

Good luck Upton!

WTF is Emilio Bonifacio N/A on Yahoo! Fantasy For No Reason!?!

bonny-emilio

Emilio Bonafacio is a sleeper possibly on a few people’s boards. Bonifacio has played pretty good during the pre-season. He possesses leadoff man and speed skills that they don’t have in other players trying to make the roster. He can play multiple positions for the Cubs, important since guys like Sterling Castro are hurt or not ready (Ott). And there has been no word that his spot was in jeopardy, considering he’s played up to par with guys like Darwin Barney up to this time.

So why does Yahoo do this to his status… yet gives NO INFORMATION!?!

emiliooooo-bonifacio-waiversIs his wife pregnant? Did they send him on waivers, even though they picked him up in hopes of being trade bait? Where is the waiver clearing news? If so, why hasn’t any other team try to pick him up? Detroit is really that short on cash for the vet minimum? Or maybe he’s on the team and Yahoo! made a mistake? Or Theo Epstein is playing some Moneyball mindgame and hopes no one notices.

Whatever the reason is, Yahoo! needs to have this information available so Fantasy leagues can organize their drafts. This isn’t like its freakin’ Edwin Encarnacion and updates on his wrist. Understood if the news isn’t readily available. But you’re talking about a guy who can contribute a good deal of speed stats for a team with amazing value, or not even be on the team by opening day!

Not to do a coach Calhoun, but Yahoo!… Get the facts, and get back to me! Please, Bonny was like my #3 sleeper. I feel like R. Kelly right now.

The Bad Luck of Jenny Dell and The NESN Hot Woman Farm System

So, the Red Sox broadcasting network NESN pulls out Jenny Dell from her sideline reporting due her dating situation with 3B Will Middlebrooks.

She took the news well, as she has stated no ill will toward the move via Twitter:

Which leads me to address one issue which seems odd: Via Boston.Com, it appears that many people in the organization were aware of the relationship long before this reassignment. If there was a precedent or if they considered the relationship a distraction, why did they let it persist?

It wasn’t like the Red Sox weren’t trying to win the East and make a serious playoff run. And it wasn’t like Will Middlebrooks production was good enough to let it slide. The article does however make a point that this “demotion/promotion” comes around the same time Jenny Dell was considering joining the new Fox Sports One team:

While it’s very hard to believe that their relationship was breaking news to NESN management, it certainly appears as though Dell’s status has been affected by either the backlash to that or perhaps her desire to work elsewhere. There was mutual interest between Dell and Fox Sports 1, though that appears to be in a holding pattern.

"You may not touch Middlebrooks... no more! -#DinnerwithSchmucks #Impression

“You may not touch Middlebrooks… no more!
-#DinnerwithSchmucks #Impression

The point is that: if the Red Sox cared, they would’ve done something about this long ago. They had too much at stake that if there was a rule in place of media/player relationships, this would’ve been handled in-house rather than push this demotion out so blatantly. So this move looks more to be a re-organizing in preparation for another Red Sox reporter to head for bigger/national pastures.

The NESN Sideline Reporter Development System

The Red Sox seem to be a broadcast farm system cultivating beautiful women to join up with bigger networks once they brand themselves as the Red Sox hottie that will keep you interested in a 7-2 lead against the Mariners with Dubront on the mound.

tina-cervasio

It begin with Tina Cervasio reporting for the Sox up until around 2008/2009, when she left for New York after gaining a great reputation with a great voice, succinct interviews, a great smile, and a good amount of reporting analysis when she did her interview rounds with WEEI.

She was married, so there weren’t rumors of her and anyone else but her husband and family, which being close to them was one of the main reasons she left NESN.

Along with Cervasio was the beautiful Hazel Mae. Her demeanor was always conservative a the lead NESN baseball anchor, but her look was too good to be ignored. he had a huge following, to the point you had people posting horrible love songs to her (also, this video is numbered in the 5-digits, meaning its one of the earliest Vimeo videos ever created):

There were rumors about her dating players, even the one rumor that she was having an affair with former skipper Terry Francona. She was probably the first woman in the Red Sox sideline report farm system to have forum topics dedicated to her personal life. Even though it was hard to see her and Cervasio leave, then came #1 pick in the draft…

All Rise for the Great and Majestic Heidi Watney

Brandon Beachy MRI: Partial Tear, Maybe Season-Ending. Sees Dr. Andrews Next

Brandon Beachy left Sunday’s game when he felt a twinge in his right elbow. His feelings were not met with optimism on Monday, as the MRI taken on his elbow revealed a partial tear in a ligament in his elbow.

The Atlanta Braves have not given any word on what this means, but have said that he will seek a 2nd diagnosis from Dr. Andrews, The most re-known elbow ligament transplant specialist in the country.