Thursday, March 22, 2007

Let's hear it for Tito and company

Put me down as a fan of Red Sox Manager Terry Francona and company.

They made the right move in appointing Jonathan Papelbon the official closer. After all, he can't possibly keep that scowl going for six or seven innings.

Seriously, folks, it's the logical choice, now that Daisuke Matsuzaka has shown he's for real with a convincing five-plus inning performance on Wednesday (March 21, 2007),

Dice-K, as he's being called by sports writers too lazy to write the whole name and who haven't figured out how to use the save/get key on their computers, looked strong in pitching.

He also looked strong in the way he got upset at calls and reacted. In one such call, the ump got it wrong on a low strike that catcher Jason Veritek caught just before it hit the dirt. Matsuzaka looked ticked off, grimaced, and then put the next pitch in the same spot, only a couple of inches higher. Strike Three -- that time the ump got it right.

That takes heart. The kid looks like he's got a lot of heart and looks like he's a nice guy, too. But then again, everybody is a nice guy in spring training where it really counts only in the last four or five games.

Papelbon was a slam-the-door closer before he was hurt last year. With Mike Timlin on the disabled list, it's a no-brainer. It's great Tito and his minions agree. Schilling, Matsuzaka, Beckett and Wakefield and whoever else starts has to know that if he's getting a bit tired after seven innings, there won't be a guy who enjoys seeing balls flying out of the stadium taking over for him.

There needs to be other aces in the bullpen -- nobody's saying no. But with important (read Yankees) games on the line, we need to be able to count on THE STARE.

Good one, Tito!

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