Before we begin, let me remind you that I am a huge Yankees fan, and therefore loathe the Red Sox. They are my mortal enemy. Also note that my entire town including my younger son are Phillies fans. I genuinely root for them and consider them my second favorite team.
However, as Shani’s dad and I spent the game mushed shoulder to shoulder, deeply analyzing the game with our expert eyes, our conclusions were inescapable. We’ll begin at second base.
The Red Sox second baseman is Dustin Pedroia. As his pitcher winds up, Pedroia takes two quick steps forward and then springs into the air. Check out the photo.
He times it so he’s landing just as the ball reaches the batter. That way he’s in motion and ready to spring whichever way the ball goes. Ball, foul, pop fly…it doesn’t matter that the ball gets hit to him only 5-8 times in a game. Every single pitch, Pedroia leaps into action.
Compare this to the Phils second baseman, César Hernández. He would stand in the field with his feet together and then just as the ball was pitched, he’d crouch slightly, halfway into a ready stance. A stark contrast to Pedroia’s bounce.
In the outfield, when a pop fly went between the center fielder and right fielder, the Red Sox center fielder would get to the ball. The right fielder would run so he was behind the center fielder for the catch. You’ll see this taught in little league. The idea is that if the center fielder misses the ball, the right fielder is there to back him up.
Now, sure, this is a professional ballplayer with a routine fly ball; there’s no way they’re going to miss it. Yet every single fly ball, the Red Sox did this. I didn’t see it once from the Phils.
In between innings, the Red Sox outfielders would spread out into a triangle and toss the ball around, firing hard straight throws.
The Phillies outfielder did the same thing expect they set up a much smaller triangle and their throws were slow, lazy arcs.
In the 6th inning, the Red Sox batter hit a long fly ball that was clearly going for a home run. Phillies right fielder, Delmon Young, trotted in the ball’s direction, watching it fly.
Except it WASN’T a fly ball. He misjudged it. The ball bounced off that wall and away from Young. His slouchy play turned a single into a double.
The exact same thing happened in the next inning on a fly ball that Phillies left fielder Domonic Brown clearly could have caught if he’d run.
The Phillies played like a team entitled to win. The Red Sox looked like a team taking nothing for granted.
These are clearly both teams in decline. Red Sox won the World Series in 2007 and the Phils won in 2008. They were both powerhouse teams. But now it’s 5 years later. They have aging stars and mediocre rookies. I’d say they each have about the same level of talent on their teams. But the way the teams approached the game was entirely different. It’s not a shocker that the Red Sox won the game 9-2.
Watching the Phillies play lazy baseball, I found it pretty tough to root for them.
Watching the Red Sox play tough, smart baseball, I found myself…not even close. It gives me hives just writing complimentary things about the Red Sox. Actually, I take it all back. They suck.