No matter how great a team is, there is always a potential fatal flaw somewhere in the fold.
Take a look at the 2004 Boston Red Sox, which eradicated an 86-year curse and captivated the hearts of championship-starved baseball fans throughout New England. That club had a powerful lineup and great starting pitching, but a player who had been a Boston icon for years was a potential fatal flaw.
His name was Nomar Garciaparra. He had been beset by injuries in 2004, and his defense at shortstop was a liability. He was sent to the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline, and Orlando Cabrera, a great defensive shortstop who could also swing the bat well when needed, was brought in. The rest is history.
The 2016 Red Sox have the potential to bring a fourth World Series in 12 years to Boston. There are no easy outs in the lineup, David Price is pitching like David Price, and Rick Porcello and Steven Wright have pitched very well out of the gate.
There’s just one problem: Clay Buchholz.
To say that Buchholz has been a detriment to the first-place Red Sox is an understatement. Demoted from the starting rotation to the bullpen last week, Buchholz is 2-5 with a 6.35 earned-run average this season. The longball has also been a problem for the veteran righthander, as he has given up 12 home runs.
Young lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez will take Buchholz’s spot in the rotation on Tuesday when the Sox take on the Orioles in Baltimore.
Nobody likes to be demoted to the bullpen, no less in favor of a younger pitcher. Rodriguez was one of few rays of light in a last-place finish in 2015, and has a lot of promise. Lord knows what the heck is wrong with Buchholz, but being demoted to the bullpen should be a wake-up call for him.
Remember when the Sox traded a beloved player in Garciaparra? If Buchholz doesn’t turn things around, his time in Boston could be up soon. We’ll always remember his no-hitter in 2007, but not much else.
DO COACHES CHALLENGES HAVE A PLACE IN HOCKEY?
Replay reviews have been a large part of the NFL for nearly two decades now, but they are now a big part of the other major sports as well.
This includes the NHL, where coaches can now challenge plays, with the consequence for a failed challenge being the loss of your one timeout for the game. The Boston Bruins lost many a goals on coaches challenges over the course of the season, but it was former University of Maine star goaltender Ben Bishop’s Tampa Bay Lightning that fell victim to one recently.
In spite of Bishop being out with a leg injury, the Lightning had a chance to dispatch the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Tampa. The Lightning appeared to seize momentum with a first-period goal, but the Penguins thought Tampa was offsides, and challenged the play.
It turns out the officials agreed, and Tampa’s momentum was gone. Pittsburgh raced out to a 3-0 lead en route to a 5-2 win, and subsequently took Game 7 in Pittsburgh to earn a date with the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Look, I’m not saying Tampa Bay lost the series on that one play, but it’s little things like that which tend to loom large in a series. It’s just too bad Bishop will not get a chance to play in the Stanley Cup Final. Personally, I’m not a big fan of coaches challenges in hockey. I can understand reviewing goals – like whether or not a puck was deliberately kicked, for example – but challenges just slow the game down, and puts the game in the hands of the officials. Which is where it should not be.
Tampa Bay will be back though. Speaking as a Bruins fan, I’d much rather have Big Ben between the TD Garden pipes, as opposed to Tuukka Rask.
I’ll be rooting for the Sharks and Joe Thornton, an ex-Bruin who deserves to have his name on the Cup. I know Bruins fans everywhere would love to see San Jose’s captain raise it, as opposed to Sidney Crosby.
THANK YOU VETERANS
Sports are great, but we wouldn’t be able to enjoy all these games if not for the bravery of our veterans. We should really take a minute and think about that on this Memorial Day weekend.
Thank you to all the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom, and thank you to those who continue to serve today.