Red Sox 2017
Not Yawkey’s Way
I will never forget my first trip to Fenway Park — it was so exciting! I can still smell the peanuts and hotdogs after getting right off the bus. My Grandfather and I sat by the pesky poll. The grass was perfect as always and the players I read about and listened to on the radio were right in front of me. The Sox were playing the Yankees and Roberto Kelly hit a homer right over my head. As a young, black, baseball fan, I learned so much about the the beauty of the game — coaches giving signs, Vince Coleman stealing a base, Will Clark’s sweet swing and the dark side of baseball and segregation. While all teams of the league were signing negro players and finally being inclusive, one man resisted this like the plague: Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey; this man was the last owner to sign a black player. On July 21, 1959 Elijah Jerry “Pumpsie" Green made his debut as the first black baseball player for the Bo-Sox. Fast-forward to May 3rd, Adam Jones is playing center field with the some of the Boston Faithful yelling racial epithets at him. Jones handled it with class, but in 2017 the question remains: should he have had to deal with that at all? The current Red Sox regime did the right thing by getting rid of those fans; but many black players came to Jones’ defense, and spoke out about similar experiences they’ve had in Boston. Then, on September 14, fans seated on the green monster held a huge banner saying “Racism is as American as baseball.” Whenever you think things change, they stay the same. Despite another disappointing post-season, the Red Sox have a strong team heading into the 2018 season — a team whose racial make-up would not make Tom Yawkey proud — but one that should make the city of Boston proud about the future.
With the core of the Red Sox hosting Xander Bogaerts, Rafaela Devers, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr., the Bo-Sox will be back. In 2018, they will need to add more homers and settle on a new manager with the firing of John Farrell. David Price is also a huge question mark — he has a huge contract and just hasn’t lived up to it at all. Not to mention his altercation with Red Sox great Dennis Eckersley didn't go over well with management or the fan base.
These are issues many teams wish they had to deal with; the bottom line is they have talent and should be right back in the playoffs next year. The Sox may not be built Yawkey’s way, but they are built the right way.
Cleveland Indians 2017
See What Happened Was…
They had it all; they were supposed to be the team that ended the drought, not the one that exacerbated it. The Indians seemed to be on their way to beating the Yankees, but just couldn’t finish the job. So everything goes by the board. The 22-game win streak, the amazing years by Lindor and Kluber, and the trade for Jay Bruce. Question one: will they sign Bruce, the 31-year-old outfielder who seems to fit like a glove in the outfield? Francona really likes Bruce, but we will see if the Tribe will pony-up to keep the slugger in Cleveland. The Indians will be the favorites again if they win the division, but do they have the starters or bullpen arms to beat out the Astro’s, Yankees, or Red Sox next season for the American League Pennant? The decision could also be, “do you go after a stronger bullpen or a rotation guy?” Taking a looking at the Yanks and Dodgers, I say build up your bullpen. The tribe will be back, but will they be good enough to win the pennant in 2018.
Guess who fired another manager this offseason? You guessed: it’s the Washington Nationals.
Dusty Baker is out as manager, but let’s be real: it’s not his fault. He was just the scapegoat for a team that couldn’t get over the hump in the playoffs. Baker is not without some fault as the leader of the Nats, but the Nationals had numerous chances to beat the Cubs and lost in a heart-breaker in game five at 9-8. This one is one of the players to take the next step; this offseason will be interesting to see if they will trade some pieces. The Nats are prime for a shake-up of some sort. They have been out of the playoffs in the first round for, like, the one-hundredth year in a row. So in 2018, the Nats have to change something.