The Boston Red Sox Just Played a Refund Game for the Ages; Let’s Go Over it in Detail!
It was all going so smoothly… until it wasn’t. When the Boston Red Sox took on the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on June 23rd, nobody watching from the stands or at home knew they were in for a refund game. The type of game where a fan could legitimately complain they deserve their money back. When fans of one side can deservedly question the effort of the players, coaches, and management. The rare instance where a refund is the only acceptable recourse for what they witnessed.
The refund game is not something that happens in a vacuum. The tone for a refund game is usually set sometime before the start of the game. For the Red Sox, it started in their prior affair; where they blew a 6-0 lead, eventually faltering by a final score of 8-7. That was Saturday night. For their Sunday matinee against the Blue Jays, they came out with the type of fire normally reserved for a teenager’s first hangover. Like a hibernating grizzly bear or Sleeping Beauty without a prince in her zip code, the Red Sox took the field with the same zeal a toddler musters when trying broccoli for the first time.
The Refund Game Itself; Just the Beginning
It started innocently enough. A two-out double by Rowdy Tellez on a 1-2 cutter in the top of the second. A pitch that caught a little too much of the plate, Tellez muscled it down the right-field line for a ground-rule double. That was followed by an RBI squibber by Brandon Drury. Marco Hernandez, who was shifted towards the second base bag, tried to track down the squirrely piece of contact in short right by going into a foot-first slide. It was an “A” for effort, but an “F” for execution. He somehow completely whiffed on the ball and once it got by him there was no chance to get Tellez at the plate. If Hernandez fields it cleanly, Tellez is probably dead meat at home because he was wearing cleats made out of cement.
No matter, a 1-0 lead at Fenway for the visiting squad is never safe. Enter Exhibit B.
Although J.D. Martinez flew out to begin the bottom half of the frame, Brock Holt singled off of Marcus Stroman. Stroman did not have his best stuff early in this one. Christian Vasquez continued his hot hitting with a sharp liner to center to move Holt to second. Jackie Bradley Jr. kept the hit parade going with a grounder through the left side. Despite Lourdes Gurriel Jr. playing a Manny Ramirez-like depth in left field, Carlos Febles thought it was wise to send Holt home.
Not only was Holt out by roughly 15 feet, he also came up lame on the play and eventually had to leave the game.
A healthy Holt is out by a mile on the play. Now Brock Holt–playing some of the best baseball of his career lately–is more than likely going to miss a handful of games, if not more.
Instead of bases loaded 0ne out with Michael Chavis coming to the dish, it was two down, 1st and 2nd. Chavis grounded out weakly to end the threat. At this point you would be out of your mind to think you deserved a refund, but the Red Sox’s ineptitude and lack of effort was just getting started.
Quick counter: Bad Effort Plays: 0. Bad Execution Plays: 1. Stupid Plays/Decisions: 1. End of Second Inning.
The Refund Game; What in the World is Going On?
Gurriel Jr. gets on base with two down in the third inning with the Blue Jays still up 1-0. Cavan Biggio proceeds to launch one to centerfield. Off the bat, it sounded like a home run. Taking a look at Jackie Bradley Jr. play the ball it looked like a home run. Instead, it bounced off of the bottom of the centerfield wall. The BOTTOM OF THE WALL! On a ball that was in the air for ages. JBJ could have easily camped out underneath the ball and made a simple catch to end the inning. Instead, he let it drop for… ummm… some reason? 2-0 Blue Jays. Stupid Plays/Decisions: 2. Possible Bad Effort Plays: 1. End of the Third.
With runners at second and third and the Red Sox down 2-0, Marcus Stroman and J.D. Martinez decide to have a staring contest in the middle of the baseball game. Literally no action in the game for two minutes and 34 seconds. In retrospect, both Martinez and Stroman should have been shot. Incomprehensible Moments in the Game: 1.
Rick Porcello (pitching without his best stuff) continues to battle and gets the Blue Jays 1-2-3 in the fifth. Stroman is now settled in however and the Red Sox respond in kind in their half of the frame. Capped off by a weak grounder to third by Mookie Betts where his hustle down is reminiscent of the unathletic child in gym class who purposely gets hit by the first throw so he can go read a book. This is the point in the game where it is painfully obvious the Red Sox are playing like tepid malaria water and we are entering refund game territory.
This is also the point where you can sense through a screen that the fans are growing restless at Fenway while fans at home are wondering if listening to Fran Drescher sing opera would be less painful.
The Refund Game; You Have GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!
Porcello starts pressing and walks Biggio to lead off the inning. Freddy Galvis joins the fun with a ground-rule double of his own and things are not looking so good. But maybe the Red Sox can turn it around and… Porcello balks home a run. But don’t worry, the balk was caused by Vasquez (who kinda stinks at controlling games behind the plate) calling timeout at the worst possible time because it appears he made a mistake throwing down signs.
It gets worse.
After an intentional walk and another non-intentional walk loads the bases, Porcello induces a grounder from Danny Jensen to third. Eduardo Nunez–having replaced Brock Holt–gives it the ole! AKA the Roger Dorn, and instead of a possible inning-ending double play, two runs score for the Blue Jays. Stupid Plays/Decisions: 2. Possible Bad Effort Plays: 2. Incomprehensible Plays: 2. 5 1/2 innings in.
The Refund Game; I Hate Everyone and Everything
Red Sox get a leadoff man on in the bottom of the sixth. He gets to second… and no further… and only that thanks to a wild pitch. The collective approaches at the plate are like a blind man swatting at a swarm of mosquitos. J.D. Martinez’s approach is the most noteworthy before finally striking out.
The ticket tellers at Fenway at this point have shuttered their windows and are preparing the oil in case any angry fans try to breach the barriers.
The Blue Jays hit a home run in the top of the 8th to make it 6-0. Dave O’Brien proceeds to start talking about Geno Auriemma. It is MUCH more interesting than the actual baseball game at this point. Jerry Remy asks if “Geno” is from Philadelphia (he is). *Quick Aside* The broadcast booth of Dave O’Brien, Jerry Remy, and Dennis Eckersley was wonderful during this game. Without them, most viewers–even diehard ones–would have turned the game off. These men are paid to sit there and watch the game. Multiple times during the game they made comments alluding to how brutal of an experience having to watch that game was. I.e. the Red Sox broadcasters on NESN are practically saying out loud this is a refund game… the game they are paid to watch.
The Refund Game; Can Someone Throw Something?
Mookie Betts attempts to get things going with a leadoff single in the 8th. The Red Sox strand him… at first. Martinez adds a pile of elephant dung on the whole proceeding when he half-heartedly jogs up the first baseline on a little roller and never drops his bat before getting tagged out. Give him credit though; he did not use it as a weapon–although that would have shown at least some passion. Possible Bad Effort Plays: 3. Stupid Plays/Decisions: 2. Incomprehensible Plays: 2.
Eduardo Nunez doubles to lead off the bottom of the ninth. It is the only extra-base hit of the game for the Red Sox. Vasquez strikes out swinging on three pitches. A rather impressive approach considering he took the first pitch fastball for a strike and swung at the second pitch. The Red Sox do, in fact, scratch a run home on an error by the Blue Jays (because of course) so they do not even give their fans the ability to complain about a shutout at Fenway.
All in all, this was one of the worst efforts a team has ever produced: the approaches at the plate were unprofessional, coaches made inexcusable decisions, players completely botched routine plays, others put forth the type of effort usually reserved for players more worried about the flavor of snow-cone awaiting them after the game, and one of the broadcasters chirped a player who fired back with a somehow even dumber comment. Put that all in a bun and you have yourselves a good ol’ fashioned refund game. But this is baseball, there are 82 more games to go. And just like in life, we do not get refunds in baseball. So on to the next game. Because it cannot be worse than that one… right?