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Appreciate Your Ace

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When I was younger, Labor Day weekend signaled the end of summer and maybe even worse it meant we were all going back to school.  Needless to say that particular weekend was not my favorite.  It’s funny how things can change over time.  Labor Day weekend is now one of my favorites.  Every year I have it marked down on my calendar.  Why? You may ask.  College Football?  Sure I like college football (check out our college preview on BSoT’s website) but the main reason is fantasy football.  On the Sunday before Labor Day my friends all get together and conduct our sacred fantasy football draft. 

My buddies and I are all members of the Golden Pony Fantasy Football Experience.  A fourteen team, fifteen person, point per perception, dynasty league.  Well semi-dynasty league.  As you get older it becomes harder and harder to hang out with your friends as much as you used to.  Our draft is the event where we all get together.  Every year I look forward to seeing all the boys.  When the huge white board that we use as our draft board is out and the magnets are laid out on table, it’s time to rock n roll.  Draft night was filled with laughs, boos, smack talk and brews.  The mai tais were also flowing.  Another thing that always happens at the draft is the chaotic trade talk.  These guys are always wheeling and dealing.  And this draft was one for the ages.  There’s nothing like a bunch of knuckleheads pretending to be professional general managers trying to get a deal done.  If you close your eyes and listen it sounds like the most dysfunctional Wall Street trading floor ever.  I can honestly say that there is nothing like it.  This year after the draft was completed, all the guys went to watch an impromptu 1 on 1 basketball game for $20.  More on that another time.  But I will say that it was hilarious.  Not the game but the commentary.  As you can tell, it was an incredible night.  This year we took our talents to Ying Dynasty, a local Chinese food restaurant. The Dynasty let us use their upstairs private area to kick off the 2018 fantasy football season.  So you could say we added some solid Chinese food to the list of awesome things that were present on draft night.  I don’t know why I just jumped into detail about the draft…I’m excited what else can I say?  

If you play fantasy football, take a second to thank your commissioner for all that they do.  These fantastic men and women do their best to make sure the league is fun, competitive and fair.  Some even put together phenomenal binders with everything you need on draft night.  They set the tone of your league.   If the commish is cool the league is cool.  If your commissioner is annoying, your league will be annoying.  Commissioners are routinely being criticized and apparently there is an unwritten rule that you must always hate on the commish.  Commissioners are organizers, facilitators, mediators, treasurers, and just all around amazing people.  That is just my unbiased, not influenced by life at all, off the top of my head opinion.

Commissioners are awesome and should be appreciated.  You know who else should be appreciated?  Chris Sale, ace pitcher of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff.  That’s who.  Having an ace is so important to the success of a big league club.  Just like the commissioner of your fantasy league, an ace pitcher sets the tone of the rotation.  Sale is having himself an incredible 2018 campaign.  His recent trips to the disabled list are probably the only things standing in his way to winning this year’s American League’s Cy Young Award.  Chris Sale will be a major reason why the Red Sox either win or lose.

Chris Sale is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball.  Every time he takes the mound, you expect him to completely shut down the other team’s lineup.  He’s tall, he’s lanky, and he’s a lefty, all characteristics that opposing batters dislike greatly.  His stuff is electric, incredibly hard to hit.  All of his pitches are pretty...pretty, pretty nasty.  Sale has a funky delivery that will screw with the hitter in the batter’s box.  If Chris Sale isn’t Randy Johnson for Halloween, he’s not doing Halloween correctly.  Sale could be the most dominating starting pitcher that the Red Sox have had since Pedro Martinez.  Cutting up jerseys and cutting up batters are two things Chris Sale is extremely good at. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look up Sale’s jersey story from his days in Chicago.  Sale is a weapon, and when he’s healthy and pitching well, he does it better than almost everyone in the league.

His injury has been an issue for the Sox.  Some say they are just resting him, others believe there is a real problem with his shoulder.  If they are resting him so he can pitch better this post season I’m on board.  Sale didn’t rise to the occasion last October.  I hope this year is different and if some extra rest can make that happen, perfect.  If Sale’s shoulder is really injured and he can’t get it healthy, then the Sox has a massive problem on their hands.  Boston’s offense is great, best in the league, but their bullpen may be the worst out of the contenders.  The Red Sox chances depend greatly on their starters.  This rotation has the power to swing the team in either direction.  

Obviously this has been a terrific season for the Boston Red Sox.  They have the most wins in the MLB and still have a commanding lead in the division.  Recently they have hit a little bit of turbulence.  Whenever a team hits a rough patch and they lose a bunch of games in a short period, their deficiencies become a lot more glaring.  Their starting pitchers all performed badly against the Rays and that lead to three loses in a row.  Having an ace like Sale is so important when a team facing a losing streak.  A pitcher like Sale can put an end to a bad streak with one dominant outing.  In 2007, it felt like whenever the Red Sox needed it, Josh Beckett was there to get the team back on track.  In between the two most recent DL stints, Sale pitched a gem.  He only threw five innings but he gave up just one hit and struck out twelve Orioles.  No matter how bad your team is scuffling, if you have a pitcher that can completely control a game like that you have the capability to swing momentum in your favor.    

Chris Sale has a real chance to become this season’s Cy Young winner.  For the few who do not know what that is, it is an award given to the best pitcher in the league.  If he can come back from his injury relatively soon and continue throwing the ball like he was before the injury, Sale can be this year’s best.  As it stands now, Chris Sale leads the league in three major categories.  He has the lowest ERA, WHIP, and opposing player’s batting average.  Before he landed on the disabled list, Sales last ten starts were simply magnificent.  In ten starts, he only gave up five runs.  FIVE! That is a run every other game, teams just didn’t have a chance against him.  In that same ten game span he struck out over 100 batters.  One zero nine to be exact.  According to Elias Sports Chris Sale was the only pitcher to have a ten start stretch that dominant.   For the record, if holding him out will help his chances at performing better in the playoffs, I’m all for it.  Going for a World Series Championship is more important.  And to be honest...the Sox have already set themselves up pretty nicely heading down the home stretch.  They don’t have to use Sale more than they have to.  This year has been so magical for the Red Sox maybe Sale can come back at the end of the season, win the CY Young, then win the World Series.  Man, wouldn’t that be nice.   

Since the Sox brass traded for Chris Sale he has been as good as advertised.  He is leading this pitching staff and dominating all along the way.  Personally, I can’t wait for the next Sale Day.  I miss watching a pitcher strike out double digit batters every time he toes the rubber.  Health permitting, I think this is the year you see Chris Sale dominate in the playoffs as well.  Sale is flat out good at pitching and I am extremely happy he is on the Red Sox.  If you don’t know, now you know…make sure to appreciate the skinny lefty, CHRIS SALE.

Oh and I wasn’t joking, appreciate your fantasy commissioner.  Give her or him a nice big hug and tell them how much they mean to you.  Maybe even buy them a beer…or three.  I don’t know, just an idea…

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