TWIB (This Week In Boston)

PED Users Are Still Affecting the Playoffs

It was revealed during Fox’s coverage of game 1 of the ALCS that Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland had certain reservations about playing Jhonny Peralta in left field, for fear of what might be said if Peralta did not prove equal to the challenge of the Green Monster in Fenway Park.  I found this to be a rather odd concern given that Peralta is a PED cheat.  If I had clubhouse access, the question I would have harassed Leyland with would have been:

Hey, Jim, do you sleep well at night knowing that you’re running a PED cheat out there and he’s affecting the outcomes of a Championship season?

I would have had my follow up question ready[1. Providing that Leyland didn’t have me forcibly removed from the clubhouse after the first question.] for Leyland:

Do you feel that if the Tigers end up winning the World Series, that the team’s accomplishment is cheapened by Peralta’s cheating ways?

The fact that Peralta played a significant role in the Tigers’ ALDS win over the Oakland Athletics was quite a bit to handle, but as I have previously noted, it’s not as if the Athletics have no known PED users helping them out.  Cheater Colon was allowed to pitch, so it could be seen as ‘fair’ to allow Peralta to alter the course of the series in like fashion (which he did.)  Fans of the Athletics may disagree, and not without cause.

Seeing Peralta up close and personal and affecting the ALCS, however, is far more than I am capable of handling.  I am in no way going to say that if Peralta didn’t play, the Sox would have won game 1.  I will say that he is the only guy that seemed to be dialed in to what Jon Lester was delivering, and he had the only RBI for either team in game 1[2. He also played a role in the Tigers’ first run last night.].  It’s conceivable that someone else might have stepped up and delivered the game-winning hit for the Tigers in extra innings.  It’s possible.  The Red Sox didn’t look like they would have scored a run on Saturday night if they had been given 100 outs, let alone 27, so there’s that.  I’ll restate my known opinion:  PED cheats should not be allowed to play in any season (regular or post) in which they are caught Cheating.  The minimum penalty can remain at 50 games, or 300 games, but players caught Cheating should not be rewarded by being allowed to participate in the post-season.

Of course, Peralta’s cheating not only is wreaking havoc during the post-season, but it may well have played a part with the Tigers’ playoff seeding.  Given that they finished only 1 game ahead of the Cleveland Indians to win the A.L. Central title, it’s a very simple argument to make that Peralta’s PED habit is the reason that the Indians did not move on to the ALDS.  Cleveland fans may now consider what might have been if they did not have to partake in MLB’s play-in game.

Tom Brady Cashes In On Multiple Chances

If you were one of the 40,000 or so fans who walked out of Gillette Stadium last night thinking the Patriots had lost, shame on you.  While all may have appeared lost, as a fan you should have had faith that if Brady got one more chance, he could deliver another victory for the home team.

For those that walked out early (and for the countless tens of thousands who tuned out at home), there was plenty of reason to think that yesterday would not be Tom Brady’s 40th career comeback/game-winning drive.  Fans that hung on even after the Patriots’ 4th down gambit were rewarded with a Brady interception on the Pats’ very next possession.  Those who stuck around past that fell in to one of three categories:  gamblers, fantasy football players, and true fans.

I hung around because I believe a game is never over until it’s over, but also because I needed to see if Brady would destroy my fantasy match-up.  As I fully knew he would once he got the ball back again, he marched the Pats down the field, and willed his butter-fingered receivers to actually catch passes as he absolutely shredded the Saints’ heralded pass defense.

When Kenbrall Thompkins pulled in Brady’s 17 yard strike, the fans that had held true were rewarded.  Those that left early or changed the channel, you’ll pretend you saw the remarkable comeback in real time, but you’ll be stuck living the lie.  In the words of Dave Attell, “You shoulda hung out.”  True fans always do.

ALCS Game 2

The Boston Red Sox apparently were unwilling to allow the Patriots to grab all of the headlines following their dramatic last second victory.  They set the stage for their own amazing comeback by playing much the same way they did on Saturday night.  Clay Buchholz gave up just one run through the first five innings, before falling apart in the 6th.  By the time the Red Sox came to bat in the bottom half of the 6th inning, they not only were still searching for their first hit of the game, but they were also staring down a 5-0 deficit.

The Sox would finally break through with two outs in the sixth, with Shane Victorino singling to left field.  When Dustin Pedroia followed with a double to center, you might have thought the Red Sox had won the World Series already given the shouts of joy that emanated throughout New England.  Ortiz would strike out to end the inning, but the giant had been cut.  Detroit was mortal, just as much as any other team.

The Sox bullpen kept them in the game, retiring 7 of 9 batters to get through the top of the 8th.  To lead off the bottom of the 8th, Stephen Drew grounded out to Jose Iglesias.  No one who has followed the Red Sox this year was surprised by that.  Stephen has a knack for making big brother J.D. look like Ted Williams.  A double by Wil Middlebrooks, a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, and a single by Dustin Pedroia all wrapped around a Shane Victorino led to the defining moment of the game:  Joaquin Benoit replacing Al Alburquerque to face David Ortiz.

All that you need to know about David Ortiz and clutch situations can be summed up in Mike’s all-lefty column from last week:

…not to mention that he’s the one guy from this era I’d like batting with the game on the line.

I don’t know the amount of times Ortiz has come up with a chance to deliver a game-altering blow and delivered.  It seems like about 1,000 times over his tenure with the Sox.  Of those approximate 1,000 opportunities, I’d venture to guess he didn’t succeed no more than 3 times, and last night was no different.  He sent Benoit’s first offering (along with Tori Hunter) in to the Red Sox bullpen to tie the score at 5.

Koji Uehara came in and made quick work of the Tigers in the top of the 9th.  If there’s been a more reliable pitcher this season, I haven’t seen him.  The bottom of the 9th got going with an infield single by Johnny Gomes, who then advanced to second base on a throwing error by Jose Iglesias.  In my opinion, the error was mislabeled, as Prince Fielder merely waved at Iglesias’ (ill-advised, granted) throw.  Prince would later show his awesome defensive skills when he allowed Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s foul pop go off of his glove, which in turn led to Salty delivering the game winning hit.

All in all, not a bad day for Boston comebacks.  The Red Sox head to Detroit for game 3 of the ALCS on Tuesday afternoon.  The pitching match-up will be John Lackey versus Justin Verlander.  It may be true that Verlander has his mojo back, but the Sox have had their way with him before.  I expect more of the same on Tuesday.  If the Sox are unable to close out the series in Detroit, game 6 is slated for Fenway Park on Saturday.

For Bruins’ Game Action

For all things Bruins, check out MTAF Boston’s newest writer, CJ Witalisz.  He’ll keep you abreast of the comings and goings of the Bruins, and action around the NHL.

Thoughts on this past week in Boston sport?

Let me know what you think:

Matt@morethanafan.net or @tboneMTAF

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