Ok, perhaps it is time to quit pretending that Aaron Boone will hit again. Last night, Boone was the difference between winning a four-game series and merely treading water.
Of course, the entire series was fantastic. Three straight extra-inning games, all four games decided in the teams’ last at-bat, and fantastic pitching performances made the series seem more like an October matchup rather than a weekday series in May. No, it didn’t get top-billing on SportsCenter (remind me why I even bother to watch that show?), but for pure entertainment purposes, you couldn’t beat it. CC Sabathia recovered from a three-run fourth to go 8.2 innings to allow the team to not only stay in the ballgame, but have a chance to win it.
Permit me to engage in a tangent. This isn’t really targeted at ESPN per se, but they as the largest and most influencial sports network is most reponsible for the complete dumbing-down of sports shows. Instead of showing, you know, highlights, SportsCenter would rather bombard its viewers with “breakdowns” of the highlights, which are essentially an analyst telling the viewing what they would have seen if the actual highlight was shown. “Harold Reynolds shows you how to turn a double play! Joh Kruk tells you who’s good!” I guess it’s one thing if the talking heads have a track record of intelligent comments and ideas, but quite another if the only reason for being on the show is their affable personality or everyman-type banter. Which is why I don’t watch Baseball Tonight if Mssrs. Kruk and Reynolds are on. Just because someone had success on the field doesn’t mean that they’re good at talking about the game away from the diamond. Think of this Player-Analyst complex as a parallel to the Player-Manager priniciple; some of the best managers in history had little to no major-league experience. The cult of personality that seems to permeate ESPN reaches its apex with characters like Kruk and Reynolds spouting platitudes and cliches, but unforrtunately does not stop there; try watching their college football studio shows. For that matter, try watching Stephen A. Smith’s (or as Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert likes to call him, John A. Doe) rants.
When the Indians activate Juan Gonzalez (which could be prior to the start of their upcoming road trip), they should send Aaron Boone down. Or bench him. Casey Blake is currently posting a .708 OPS, which is pretty bad for a right fielder, but compared to Boone’s .486 OPS, it looks positively Ruthian. This team needs offense, and for right now, I’ll take a drop-off in defense at third in order to get it. Jody Gerut and Grady Sizemore are hitting well in left and center, and adding Juan Gonzalez would help greatly to stabilize the lineup, probably moving Victor Martinez down in the order.
His opposite-field hit against Joe Nathan notwithstanding, Martinez has simply been awful against right-handed pitching thus far. I think he’ll figure out his swing eventually, but the team simply can’t afford for him to be hitting cleanup while he does it. The good news for Martinez is that he gets to face Barry Zito tonight.