Game 19 vs. Baltimore Orioles: Walt Dropo

The Rookie of The Year Award was established in 1947, and Jackie Robinson was the first recipient of the award. In 1950 Walt Dropo was the first Boston Red Sox player to be awarded, and he beat out future Hall of Famer Whitey Ford for the honors. Dropo's career was never the same after he fractured his wrist in 1951. He was a serviceable player for 13 years, but he never regained the level of talent from that 1950 season. He wrapped up his career with parts of 3 seasons as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. 

Though his best days were with the Red Sox, Dropo had flashes of greatness as a member of the Tigers and White Sox. Throughout his career, he seemingly took enjoyment in tormenting Whitey Ford. In 87 at bats, Dropo hit .299 against Ford, including hitting 5 home runs over the years. Dropo also had early success against Early Wynn, another future Hall of Famer, against whom he cranked 4 home runs.

Dropo passed away in 2010, but he left behind a legacy of being a solid player on a bunch of decent teams. He never reached the postseason, but he played with a plethora of great players. Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, Mel Parnell, Dom Dimaggio with the Sox. Hal Newhouser, George Kell, and Al Kaline with the Tigers. Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso, Luis Aparicio with the White Sox. Finally, Hoyt Wilhelm, Milt Pappas, and Brooks Robinson with the Orioles. 

Dropo was a great supporting cast ballplayer. Wade Miley pitches against the Orioles today, and he's a great supporting cast starting pitcher. He won 16 games in his first full season as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Though he hasn't duplicated those numbers, he's steadily logged 200 innings in each full season he has played. That's pretty much the equivalent of doing your job by keeping your club in the race. Many of the O's haven't faced Miley, so perhaps he'll show up with a bit of that rookie year greatness and help ensure the Sox walk away with another series win.

Game 18 vs. Baltimore Orioles: Pat Rapp

Who is Pat Rapp? He pitched the 9th inning of a 13-1 blowout against the Yankees in the 1999 ALCS that was supposed to be a duel between Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. Pedro struck out 12 over 7 innings while Clemens lasted just 2 innings. Pat Rapp had mop up duty at the end of the night. It was Clemens's 11th postseason game(of 34 he would eventually pitch in), and it was Pat Rapp's one and only postseason game.

He's one of those guys you vaguely remember playing for a bunch of different teams, and you don't really remember if he was good or not. Pat Rapp pitched a scoreless inning against a New York Yankees team that was in the midst of a three-peat World Series Championship run. His yearly numbers may not suggest greatness, but the guy pitched better than Roger Clemens one night. 

Justin Masterson has pretty bad career numbers against the Baltimore Orioles, except the last time out he threw five innings of one run ball. Maybe he needs to find his Inner Pat Rapp to continue this upward trend. If Pat Rapp cam harness the good, why can't Masterson?

Game 17 vs. Baltimore Orioles: Dan Duquette

Straight up fact: Dan Duquette is the man who bamboozled both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Montreal Expos in the name of acquiring Pedro Martinez. 

True Story: Red Sox fans can thank Jody Reed for Pedro Martinez. When Reed opted not to accept a three year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers during the off season before the 1994 season, the Dodgers were in need of a second baseman. The Expos traded Pedro to the Montreal Expos for Delina DeShields as a result. A few years, and his first Cy Young Award later, Duquette acquired Pedro for Red Sox greats Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. The rest, as they say, is history.

Duquette is credited with building up the Expos and Red Sox farm systems, and his fingerprints are all over the 2004 World Series Championship team. Since joining the Baltimore Orioles, he has tweaked the roster and turned the team around is dramatic fashion. They have reached the postseason twice since Duquette joined the organization, after a 13 year hiatus. 

The Red Sox are at the top of the AL East and the O's are at the bottom, though the season is only a tenth of a way through the season. The teams split a 4 game set last weekend, which is a minor miracle for the Red Sox considering their recent history against Baltimore. Dating back to the crushing Game 162 defeat of the Red Sox to end the (collapsing) 2011 playoff hopes of the Red Sox, the O's are 37-23 since in regular season games versus Boston. This is a stark contrast to the previous decade plus. From 1997 until 2011, the Red Sox had a commanding dominance over the O's, winning 153 games out of 250 contests. 

So where does that leave us today? Rick Porcello takes on the O's for the second time this week, after being knocked around by them earlier in the week. The hope here is he shakes off the bad start and ignores the reality that the O's seemingly have the Red Sox number right now. There's no time like the present to turn things around!

Game 13 vs. Baltimore Orioles: Patriots Day

I thought about talking about the Marathon Bombings, but honestly, I'm going to leave that to the real writers. I'm just a guy with a blog, so I'm going to stick with baseball.

My dad has been to maybe 3 baseball games at Fenway Park. The last time was in 2005 when he sat atop the Green Monster with a bunch of family. If my uncles didn't go, I'm pretty confident his streak of not attending a game at Fenway would have extended another decade.

One of my first games at Fenway was on Patriots Day, or Marathon Monday, in 1992. Coincidentally, this was my dad's last game until 2005. The Red Sox, with the great Jody Reed playing at second base, were playing the eventual World Series Champion Toronto Blue Jays. It was the third Monday in April, and the Red Sox were already in 4th place. 

I don't remember a lot about the game. My dad doesn't either. He just remembers the game going beyond the 9th inning, sitting in an uncomfortable chair for hours on end, and then watching the Red Sox cough up a loss at the end. Why would anyone sit that long to see a game end in a loss? So he made it a point to not return until he couldn't refuse. 

For what it's worth, he's come around to enjoying baseball...though even today he'll take a Boston Celtics game any day. I think he's been to the Garden more times than Fenway at this point.

Patriots Day is awesome. An entire region of the United States celebrates a day that the rest of the country pretty much ignores. Baseball at 11AM, crazy people running 26.2 miles to the heart of Boston, and everybody is off of work. The clip above was during the Red Sox game on Patriots Day. The awesomeness of this captures the overall essence of Patriots Day...but you probably won't understand until you've experienced it.

Put it on your bucket list if you haven't already. Boston is the place to be today.

Game 12 vs. Baltimore Orioles: Mike Timlin

There comes a time, whenever a key player is acquired, when you take stock in the acquisition and determine if the pickup was a good decision for the team. For some, this happens to be right after the new player totally bombs. Other times it's after a few starts of continued success.

The Red Sox acquired Rick Porcello for Yoenis Céspedes during the off-season, and if we were to take stock before his 3rd start as a member of the Red Sox, we would be pumping our fists and high fiving our neighbors. The 26 year old right hander has so far come as advertised. For a team without a defined ace, Porcello might fill that role on the days he pitches.

Mike Timlin, a 2004 and 2007 World Series champion with the Boston Red Sox, also came as advertised when he joined the team in 2003. He shut down the opposition in the late innings, and occasionally closed out a few games.  The same cannot be said for Timlin's Baltimore days. He saved a bunch of games for the O's in 1999, but was shipped out of town at the trade deadline in 2000 with an ERA approaching 5.00. 

The hope here is the ghost of Red Sox Timlin will guide Porcello to victory today!

Game 11 vs. Baltimore Orioles: Bill Dinneen

There is only one person in the world who can claim to have thrown a no hitter, and later on in life call a no hitter as an umpire.  Bill Dinneen, the man who can make this claim, did just that. He logged 12 seasons a pitcher, many with Boston, and his last few with the St. Louis Brown(before they moved and were known as the Orioles). 

Can you imagine if Jim Palmer and Derek Lowe decided to become umpires as their second careers within baseball after playing a bunch of years in MLB and tossing a no hitter? 

Bill Dinneen tossed a no hitter for the Boston Americans on September 27, 1905. Clay Buchholz, today's Red Sox starter, tossed a no hitter against the Baltimore Orioles on September 1, 2007. Chances are Clay Buchholz will not become an umpire when he finally hangs up his cleats. Buchholz was knocked around during his last start, so perhaps dusting off the ghost of Bill Dinneen will rub some luck into today's game for the Red Sox.

 

Game 10 vs. Baltimore Orioles: Dwight Evans

Have you ever seen photos of Dwight Evans in a Baltimore Orioles jersey? Were you one of the lucky kids in 1991 to pull a Dewey card featuring the Orioles uni? It is jarring. unsettling, and completely unnatural. 

After 19 seasons as a member of the Boston Red Sox, Dwight Evans logged 329 at bats with the Baltimore Orioles. There were 7 games where Dewey played at Fenway as a member of the Orioles. A Google Image search doesn't show any images of Evans in Fenway wearing an Orioles uniform, but the image in my mind is appalling. We can chalk the events of 1991 to bad management decisions. 

Speaking of management decisions, the Orioles entered the 2015 season as a team that has reached the postseason in 2 of the last 3 years. A lot of this has been attributed to Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter. Duquette, another member of the Sox/Orioles alumni group, has also been linked with moving on to the Toronto Blue Jays.

The hope tonight is the Orioles will fall a bit short, like their recent playoff hopes, and the Red Sox will reign victorious!