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Leaving The Nation Weary

There is a group of about 10 of us inside The Washington Post newsroom who either grew up in New England or have direct ties to the region. We follow the Red Sox. Closely.

A few years ago an in-house message group called "TheNation" was created. It's essentially a message board where we'll take a few minutes out of our day to banter about and share our opinions on the team. Some say we need a life; they're probably right. But as one Nation member so eloquently put it last night, "Dice-K makes my hair hurt."

For those who missed it, Daisuke Matsuzaka helped the Red Sox take a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Angels. He was in line for the win before the bullpen coughed up the lead in the eighth inning, but his effort was far from extraordinary. In fact, it was typical: 5 innings, 8 hits, 3 walks, 108 pitches and 8 runners left on base. Did I mention he only pitched five innings??

Yes, Matsuzaka went 18-3 this year. He had the third best ERA among starters (2.90) and allowed the fewest hits per nine innings (6.87). He went 9-0 on the road, pitched on a team that won 95 games and even had his name thrown around by some in the media when discussing the AL Cy Young Award.

Please. This is a pitcher who more often than not has struggled to get through five or six innings and then relied on his bullpen to pile up the W's. At one point this year opposing hitters were 0 for 13 against him with the bases loaded. One might argue that a win is a win is a win and why all the complaining.

Maybe so, but more than anything else Dice-K has been a magician this year and at some point you gotta believe the opposition is finally going to catch on.

By Tom Heleba  |  October 4, 2008; 8:57 AM ET
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Great to see your work among the giants - Shenin and Boswell. Dice-K is Exhibit A in how context-sensitive pitchers' win-loss records are. Without Boston's bats, no way he records that record. OTOH, put John Lannan in Boston and, while his ERA would go up by a run in the slow-pitch softball, oops, I mean American League, he would no doubt flip his record around -- or maybe even get 2-3 more wins. Think of Walter Johnson's W-L record had he played for the Red Sox in the 1910s and Yankees in the '20's. He'd likely surpass Cy Young!

So, with a 2-0 lead, does Francona hold back Beckett and go with Wakefield?

Posted by: Nats Fan from Wheatfield | October 4, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Pink Hat Nation. The Sox and their gang of front-running fans are more insufferable than the Yankees ever were, because they cling to the delusion that there is something lovable and endearing about the Sawx and their rust-bucket, rat-infested stadium. There is isn't. You are just another big-market team now, with supremely obnoxious fans to boot. Here's hoping that The Pink Hat Nation's ride ends in Tampa, and you all get to watch from the outside as Manny earns another WS ring.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | October 4, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

More rank hostility from Coverage. I suppose we should look forward to an LAD -Tampa Bay series opener in the Trop, a fine baseball venue if I ever saw one, loaded with Tampa Bay tradition. If that happens, you might be surprised to discover that the majority of Boston fans hold few hard feelings toward Manny. BTW, lose the pink hat reference Cov, it's hardly original and so six months ago...

Posted by: oldchief | October 4, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

oldchief, let's be clear about something. Your organization and fans are the ones who have cheered "hating" other teams. Your fans cheered a player who thought it was appropriate to wear clothing showing his "hatred" towards another team. Not to mention things like tampering with other teams' players. Any hostility I--and hundred of thousands of other baseball fans--have towards the Sox at this point is well-deserved.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | October 4, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Cov: Well, poking you is sort of fun, but I think I'll leave it with this: Winning a few World Series every hundred years or so is enough for me ... I'll let others take the credit or blame for the climate of crankiness pervading the sports world. I just enjoy baseball and always have ...
and just for the record, the Red Sox are not "my organization." I've never seen a penny of John Henry's considerable revenue.

Posted by: oldchief | October 4, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Tom - see my rant on Carig's previous post. Dice-K is a major contributor to my hair loss. When Sheinin was in China, I think Daniel Cabrera was pitching against Dice-K. I asked him the over/under on walks that night, and I think he said 13.

Do you remember and of the Bill Lee 14 hit shutout complete games? The man is a deity!

Wheatfield - before anyone starts saying AL ball is softball in comparison to NL, let's see the NL take some season series in interleague. If you take account of strength of schedule, there is an argument that the Blue Jays would have been the 2d best team in the NL.

CiL - pink hat derision is a bit sexist, no? Why are you down on the casual female fan but not the front running male fan? If your beef is with the Johnny-come-lately fans who "adopt" the Red Sox when they are successful, just as they would have adopted the Phils if they won a couple of World Series recently, fine. Say so. But your repeat short-hand of "pink hats" has other connotations. I don't think you mean the connotations, so you may want to think about being a bit more clear when you express your derision.

Posted by: PTBNL | October 4, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

No sexism intended PTBNL. I think it is an apt metaphor for the Sox' new-found fans, regardless of gender. In fact, the vaunted "President" of the so-called "Nation" criticized the idiots at Fenway who booed Damon on his return to Fenway by saying on the air that they must be "the pink hat fans." He wasn't just referring to women either.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | October 4, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Carrying forward with a Pink Nation addendum (re. Pink Nation, as a female fan, I don't find use of that term offensive. OTOH, I prefer to wear my team colors rather than pink Nats gear and am not sure why some doofus marketing guru assumes that I would choose to do otherwise, but that's another story/rant ;-)). Carryover post below:

I'm with Flynnie in rooting for the underdogs, though to me the Red Sox aren't that anymore.

PTBNL, I respect your long background with and loyalty to your team. Our opinions as fans aside, IMO the television networks think that the Red Sox, Yankees, and Cubs are a better story angle than other teams because they are more likely to be shoved down viewers' throats on any given week than other teams (probably true of the Post as well - as Rays coverage is relegated to AP stories and the odd entry here). Maybe we have a bit of Yankee/Sox fatigue as well.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 4, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

CiL, natsfan1a - thanks. I don't suppose the networks would be giving us so many red sox, yankees, and cubs games if the ratings and webhits were not there. As much of a Sox fan as I am, I would prefer to see more variety as well. I would like to see emerging teams before they make the playoffs, like the Royals (Alex Gordon, Bill Butler, Joakim Soria - a great story) or the Nats, as well as the contenders like the Twins, etc... I actually thought ESPN was getting a bit better at showing some of the AL Central teams. But I guess ESPN and TBS will always get me and you to watch and are working on the fans who follow the celebrities.

I'm probably a bit more sensitive to the derisive use of "pink hat" and the sexism angle due to the Globe article on fans that that wear those hats. Someone other than me linked to it a month or two ago on NJ.

I'll still use as shorthand sometimes "look at what Boston does" when I discuss the Nats and what I'd like the Nats to become. I don't think this team should be run as a low budget franchise, I think the approach of the Boston med and training staff should be copied, I think they have built a strong development system, I like the plate discipline and intelligent running, etc. . . Washington should be a great market,and I'd love for the Lerners to max out its potential the way John Henry has.

Posted by: PTBNL | October 4, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse

PTBNL, thanks for your reply. Good point on drawing casual as opposed to diehard fans. The Sox' rival Yankees certainly seem to have plenty of the celebrity-chasing variety (I sometimes wonder how many of the NYY-gear-wearing people that one sees about the country could name the starting lineup of "their" team).

Last but not least, from your mouth to the Lerners' ears. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 5, 2008 5:19 AM | Report abuse

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