May. 09, 2017
Chris Sale is taking the reigns as the leader of this Red Sox team
Coming into the first season without David Ortiz since 2003, the talk was who was going to be the new leader and face of the Boston Red Sox. A lot of us thought it would be Mookie Betts, who is coming off a season in which he was the runner-up for American League MVP. Some people even thought it was Dustin Pedroia, the heart and sole of a team he has worked his ass off for since 2007. But through all the controversy that has gone on between the Sox and the Orioles over the first month of the season, the Sox looked like a team that was struggling to find a leader to fill the void of Ortiz in the first season without the 3-time Champion.
But last night in the 2nd game of this current 4-game series with the Orioles, starter Chris Sale finally took a stand. In the very 1st inning, Sale zipped a 97 mph fastball behind Manny Machado, the player who spiked Pedroia on a late slide that ignited this flame. Both benches were warned, and Machado glared and showed his anger towards the Sox' dugout. This came just one batter after Sale stepped off the mound for Adam Jones to receive a well-deserved standing ovation from the Fenway crowd, who had racial slurs yelled at him by some classless jackass during Monday nights game. It was retaliation for not only what happened on the slide to Pedroia, but for Orioles' starter Dylan Bundy throwing at Mookie Betts the night before.
After the game, Machado had a meltdown when talking to the media, and even went as far as to say that he had lost all respect for the Red Sox organization. When Sale was told about how Machado felt about the pitch, he replied by simply saying 'I'm not going to lose sleep over it.' An awesome answer from a hard-nose player. Not only did Sale throw at Machado, he went on to strike him out along with the first five batters of the game. The league leader in strikeouts finished with 11 strikeouts to lead the Sox to a 5-2 win over their new-found rivals. It was his 5th straight start with 10+ strikeouts, the first Sox starter to do it since Pedro Martinez.
After what Chris Sale did last night, I realized that he is the real leader of this 2017 Red Sox team. Pedroia is still a leader and as important as anyone to this team. But it's hard to look at him as the guy after pretty much throwing his team under the bus following Barnes' throw behind Machado. Sale went out to his mound in his ballpark and made an early statement showing who's team this really is. When Sale returned to the dugout after the 1st, he was fired up and it looked like the team was gravitated toward him. That's what the Sox need, a guy to rally behind much like they did with Ortiz. It doesn't seem like the young guys like Betts and Bogaerts are assertive enough yet to lead, and the team desperately needs someone to step up. Sale did that last night, and the Sox appear to have found the new chief of Yawkey Way.