After a Successful 2021 Season, the Red Sox Hope For More

by npatano


Professional Sports


Julia McCoy ’22

Guest Writer

A standout off-season for the Boston Red Sox has fans excited to see baseball coming back on April 7. After the introduction of former Tampa Bay Rays executive Chaim Bloom in 2020—a year that proved dismal for the Red Sox—fans have been looking for a big turnaround in the program. Watching as all-star players signed with other teams, like Carlos Correa to the Minnesota Twins and Freddie Freeman to the LA Dodgers, fans were worried that the team would not see a big signing in this short offseason.

On Dec. 1, right before the 99-day lockout began, Red Sox fans were excited to hear about the signing of Jackie Bradley Jr., a player who had played an integral role for the team in the 2018 World Series-winning season. The deal did not bring the star appeal they had been hoping for, but it was a sign that Bloom was ready to make some changes to the team.

The 2021 season proved rather successful, with the Red Sox making it to the American League Championship Series and falling short to the Houston Astros, losing the series in six games. It was clear that this team could make a serious run in October and would continue to be successful in 2022 if they could keep the core of their power. Luckily, they seem to have done just that.

As the shortened offseason began in mid-March 2022, teams quickly began picking up all-star free agents and making blockbuster trades. With new additions and contracts from the last few years, the American League East division is stacking up to be one of the most competitive in all of baseball this season, with four out of five teams showcasing immense power throughout their lineups. The Tampa Bay Rays have secured breakout star Wander Franco for the next 11 seasons, the Toronto Blue Jays continue to show off the power of their beloved Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and the Yankees have picked up Anthony Rizzo to work alongside their roster. With the teams slated to play each other 19 times in the 162-game season, this season will not be lacking in competitive matchups.

Photo Courtesy of The Athletic

Red Sox fans waited with baited breath as their team was reportedly in the conversation for several of the biggest signings of the offseason. In the end, they ended up signing all-star infielder Trevor Story, who is lined up to play second base in an already-stacked infield including Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Bobby Dalbec.

In the outfield, fans will welcome back Jackie Bradley Jr., Enrique Hernandez, Alex Verdugo, and will likely see more time from Christian Arroyo, too. Meanwhile the pitching rotation will see the return of staple pieces like Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale, accompanied by newer standouts like Garrett Whitlock, Nick Pivetta, and Tanner Houck.

Looking ahead to the season, there is going to be constant competition for the AL pennant and a slate of games against other competitive opponents. With the retention of standout stars and the signing of more power, the Boston Red Sox look to repeat a successful 2021 season, with a determination to get to the World Series that they were two games away from last October.

Fenway Park is set to host its home opener on April 15, Jackie Robinson Day and One Boston Day. What a way to start a highly anticipated season.

For baseball fans across the country, excitement is rising as the league looks to complete its first “normal” season since 2019. After a shortened, fanless 2020 season and a 2021 season that started with limited capacity stadiums, 2022 will surely bring excitement and competition in the six month season that lies ahead.

Former Pro Finds Home at PC

by Jack Belanger


Friar Sports


Kapstein Enrolls in PC After Career in Minor League Baseball

By Thomas Zinzarella ’21

Sports Staff

While many 18-year-olds look forward to their freshman year at college, Zach Kapstein ’22SCE had something else on his mind: baseball. After being drafted in the 44th round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox, Kapstein opted to sign with Boston in pursuit of his childhood dream of one day playing in the major leagues.

“I went from my high school graduation from small town Tiverton, RI to six days later in Fort Myers, FL sharing a hotel room with the Red Sox 1st overall pick in 2006.”

It is a road that not many baseball players get the pleasure to venture down, so Kapstein jumped at the opportunity to play. “Our goal was to get drafted and get a shot in the minor leagues,” Kapstein said. Less than six percent of high school baseball players get the opportunity to play college baseball and only half a percent of high school players will eventually get drafted by a major league baseball team.

For Kapstein, it all started after playing in the Area Code Underclass Games the summer leading into his senior year of high school. The Area Code Games are an exclusive showcase that draws in the top 225+ high school players in the country. Major Leaguers like Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, and Giancarlo Stanton have taken the field in this prestigious event.

During that summer, Kapstein competed against six future Major Leaguers including Kris Bryant, Christian Yelich, Dylan Bundy, Joc Pederson, Kevin Gausman, and Archie Bradley. At the games, scouts from all 30 MLB teams are present, as well as scouts from some of the top colleges in the country. 

Following the event, Kapstein received some college interest from powerhouse programs like the University of Southern California, the University of Texas, and fellow Big East foe at the time, West Virginia University.

Zach Kapstein

After being drafted in June and signing a minor league contract with the Red Sox, he was assigned to their Rookie League affiliate level in the Gulf Coast League. Kapstein would spend 2010 and 2011 in the area before being promoted back to the New York-Penn League and the Lowell Spinners. Injuries shortened some of Kapstein’s minor league seasons. Life as a catcher is never easy. As he rose up to the full season single-A affiliates, he transitioned to the outfield. Kapstein reached as high as A+ with the Salem Red Sox, before being traded in 2015 to the Baltimore Orioles.

In the Minors, Kapstein was  teammates with big league club players on assignment like Daniel Nava, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Stephen Drew. One story he always gets asked about is the  time he spent with former Red Sox and current Los Angeles Dodgers superstar outfielder Mookie Betts in the Minors.

After Betts was drafted in 2011, Kapstein and he were teammates in Fort Myers that summer and fall during instructional league. They spent time together in extended spring training in 2012 before both were assigned with the Lowell Spinners the following summer. 

Betts struggled initially in the Minors. Alex Spier, a Boston Globe sportswriter, in his book Homegrown, talks about how Betts almost quit baseball entirely. Kapstein had a front row seat to Betts make the big adjustments in 2012. “That summer every ball he hit was hit hard…it was a complete 180 from the summer before,” Kapstein revealed. “He just flipped a switch…we kept saying to ourselves, this kid is going to be in the Major Leagues in two years.”

After one year playing in the Orioles organization, Kapstein signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox. He began to think that it may be time to hang up the cleats. Kapstein was offered a coaching position inside the White Sox organization and accepted it. He spent two seasons with the Great Falls Voyagers and Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, the Rookie League and Single-A affiliate of the White Sox respectively..  

When asked about his time playing and coaching, Kapstein responded: “I saw a lot of America in which I wouldn’t have seen…you really saw a lot of the fabric and the core of America. With me loving history, being a history major now…I saw a lot of the Mid-Atlantic area that played a huge part in the Civil War… I got to see Gettysburg when I was with the Orioles.” He also added that it was “interesting to see places I had seen on a map or read about in history and to drive through them.” 

When he figured it was time to go back to school, all Kapstein could envision was majoring in history. Sure enough, he is now a history major at PC’s School of Continuing Education.

Coming in, Kapstein was always fascinated with the history of the U.S., but especially the Civil War and the American Revolution. He has family members who fought in the Vietnam War, World War II, and even World War I. One of his favorite classes he is taking right now is a class on the history of the Holocaust. 

He is not the only Kapstein connection to baseball and PC, however. His uncle Jeremy Kapstein was one of the first player agents and played a pivotal role in abolishing the reserve clause and creating free agency in baseball. As an agent he represented players that included Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, and Carlton Fisk, among many others. “He got his start at PC,” Kapstein stated. As a student at Hope High School in Providence, Jeremy was able to work the Providence College Men’s Basketball games by keeping track of the stats during the games.

After graduation, Kapstein either wants to get back into coaching at the college or professional level or use his history degree in a more traditional way. Kapstein has thought about teaching history and coaching football and baseball at the prep school or the high school level.

Today, besides going to school, Kapstein still gives advice to high school athletes who are in the same boat as he was almost a decade before. “It was definitely a learning experience. It has you grow up very fast and makes you more mature,” Kapstein stated. “You don’t have anyone saying you have to be up at 7 a.m., you got to do this class, you’ve got to be in the cage. It’s all on you. It makes you very punctual, very responsible, and professional.” 

If Kapstein does become a history teacher, he will have to get used to the routine of going not into the batting cage this time, but rather, into the classroom.

Editor’s Corner

by The Cowl Editor


Professional Sports


A Look at the Red Sox’ Success Without Big Papi

By Jack Belanger ’21

Sports Co-Editor

After Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz retired following the conclusion of the 2016 season, there was a lot of uncertainty as to who would fill his role as Boston’s power hitter, go-to guy in the postseason, and leader. With  such a big hole to fill, there was plenty of reason to wonder how long it would take the team to return to the World Series. After all, in Ortiz’s last season, he had one of his best performances of his career and the team still fell to eventual American League champions, the Cleveland Indians, in the first round of the playoffs.

But who knew it would only take two years? Especially with how the 2017 season unfolded.

While the Red Sox still managed to win the American League East, the team lacked a true power hitter without Ortiz. Outfielder Mookie Betts finished second in the MVP voting in 2016, but suffered a down year in 2017. Veterans Dustin Pedroia and David Price were supposed to take over as the clubhouse leaders, but neither could stay on the field due to injuries.

In the postseason, the team bowed out after four games in the first round to the Houston Astros, losing the series three games to one. Outside of a 10-3 win in Game Three, the Sox struggled to score at any consistent rate. The team was lacking the voice that Ortiz brought in the dugout as well as his big bat in the lineup. It was clear general manager Dave Dombrowski had to make changes for the team to return to contention in 2018.

Newcomer J.D. Martinez proved to be the power-hitter Boston needed as he hit 43 homers during the season, and Betts played like he had back in 2016 to lead the offense in the regular season.

In past World Series runs, it was stars such as Ortiz and Manny Ramirez who would heat up come October; this year it was Jackie Bradley Jr. and under-the-radar, mid-season acquisition Steve Pearce who would prove to come up in key moments for the Sox. Bradley Jr. would lead the team with nine runs batted in to lead the team over the Astros and head to the World Series.

Pitcher Chris Sale became the rallying voice the Sox needed in Game Four of the World Series when the team was down 4-0. A moment reminiscent of 2013 when Ortiz voiced his displeasure with the team’s hitting in the World Series, Sale fired up his teammates and sure enough, the Sox were able to come back and win 9-6.

Somehow Pearce became one of the unlikeliest of heroes in Red Sox history after winning World Series MVP. The 35-year-old journeyman came up big for Boston in the final two games of the series. In Game Four, he had a home run and four RBI’s and in Game Five he hit two home runs to seal the series for the Red Sox.

The 2018 Red Sox will likely go down as one of (if not the) greatest teams in franchise history, and while the stars filled Ortiz’s shoes during the regular season, it was the role-players who came up big on the field during the postseason.

Dodgers, Red Sox World Series Match-Up

by The Cowl Editor


Professional Sports


By Thomas Zinzarella ’21

Sports Staff

The Boston Red Sox boast the best record in baseball and have found their way back into the World Series after defeating the defending champions, the Houston Astros. They are going up against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were defeated by the Astros in seven games last year in the World Series and look to collect their first title since 1988. The Red Sox have won two World Series, in 2007 and 2013, since breaking the 86-year-old Curse of the Bambino in 2004. The Sox look to add another ring into the collection under the leadership of first-year manager Alex Cora.

boston red sox world series
Photo Courtesy of Elsa/Getty Images

Both teams have their strengths. The Dodgers possess a strong rotation and bullpen. Lead by three-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers have a trio of pitchers in rookie Walker Buehler, Rich Hill, and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Buehler started game seven of the NLCS where he threw 4.2 innings and only allowed six hits, one earned run and struck out seven. The Dodgers pitchers are ranked near the top in most categories in the National League, they have the best ERA in the National League with 3.38, first in strikeouts and ranked second in BAA with hitters only hitting .230.

The Dodgers are also one of the leading analytics teams in the MLB, and they love defensive shifting. Manager Dave Roberts loves to use hitters off his bench in crucial situations, especially with the likes of right-hander David Freese, who can combat the Sox lefties Chris Sale and David Price. Freese was the hero in the St. Louis Cardinals’ run to a World Series win over the Texas Rangers in 2011.

The Red Sox have one of the best lineups top to bottom. The Red Sox place near the top in offensive ranks in the American League. The Sox are first in runs per game, average, on-base percentage, and slugging. There may not be any better hitters in the league than Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, and Andrew Benintendi does not get enough credit with his glove and at-bats. According to FanGraphs, Benintendi ranks 31st in the league  for contact percentage at 86.5 percent, and his ability to make contact with tough pitches out of the zone and extending at-bats is even better  at 75.6 percent putting him at 14th in the league. A few key pieces in the lineup are Jackie Bradley Jr. and Steve Pearce. Pearce loves left-handed pitching so expect him to be in the lineup against Kershaw and other LHPs. This year, Pearce hit .304 and had a .959 on-base percentage plus slugging percentage (OPS) against LHPs compared to .265 AVG and .828 OPS against righties. Jackie Bradley, Jr. is only 5-27 this postseason. He has come up with some clutch hits in key moments that won the Red Sox a few games. In the ALCS, his OPS was over 1.000 because two of his three hits were home runs and the other was a double. If Pearce and JBJ can get it going in the World Series, this lineup is dangerous and hard to stop. We already saw the Red Sox put up 16 runs against the New York Yankees on the road back in the American League Division Series.

The key for the Dodgers is to get to the Red Sox pitching early and get to the bullpen. The pitching  has been unreliable in September and thus far in the postseason with only a few viable options. Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel has struggled mightily this postseason. In 6.1 innings pitched this year, he has allowed six hits, five earned runs, and six walks. His ERA is just under eight with 7.71 and his WHIP at 1.89. These are unusual numbers from your closer, who is typically one of the better relievers on the team, so it will be interesting to see how Alex Cora will use Kimbrel in this series.

The Red Sox want to score early and score often. Teams this postseason who score first are 21-6. The Dodgers bullpen this postseason has been lights out. In the NLCS against the Brewers, the bullpen had a 1.45 ERA with hitters only hitting .180 off them. Kenley Jansen solidifies the back end of this bullpen; he has allowed no runs this postseason with ten strikeouts in 6.2 IP.

MLB Playoffs Are Here

by The Cowl Editor


Professional Sports


By Cam Smith ’21

Sports Staff

As the temperature gets progressively more bearable in Aquinas it can only mean one thing: playoff baseball is right around the corner. The Major League Baseball regular season will finally come to a conclusion on Sunday after a grueling 162 game stretch. Over the past six months, the league has seen its fair share of breakout stars and surprise playoff contenders, but after Sunday only 10 teams will remain in the hunt for the coveted Commissioner’s Trophy (All stats as of Sept. 22).

mookie betts boston red sox
Photo Courtesy of ESPN.com

The American League’s five playoff representatives have long been locked in place, as the AL saw four teams reach 90 wins by mid-September. One of those teams is the Boston Red Sox, who clinched the AL East title last Thursday night with a win over the New York Yankees. Boston’s explosive season is due in large part to the impressive performances of MVP candidates Mookie Betts (.339 BA) and J.D. Martinez (41 HR), who have helped propel the team to a 105-50 record. The Sox will enter the playoffs with the best record in the majors but may be hindered by an inexperienced bullpen that has posted a poor ERA (4.00) since the All-Star break.

The Cleveland Indians (86-67) had to stave off the up and coming  Minnesota Twins for the first half of the season but glided to the AL Central divisional in the second half. Cleveland’s strength lies in their pitching staff, as it features two Cy Young candidates in Corey Kluber (2.93 ERA) and Trevor Bauer (2.22 ERA), and a deadly combo out of the bullpen in Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.

Meanwhile in the AL West, the Houston Astros (97-57) hold a 3.5 game lead over the Oakland Athletics (94-61) in the race for the divisional crown. While the defending champions and former AL MVP Jose Altuve (.313 BA) were again expected to make the playoffs, the Athletics were given little chance to compete in a division in which they placed dead last in 2017. The Athletics’ meteoric rise can be contributed in large part to Khris Davis, who has helped power the team into contention with his league-leading 45 home runs.

The 95-59 Yankees will be waiting in the Bronx for the team that finishes second in the AL West. The Yanks have seen their share of success in the regular season, and slugger Aaron Judge’s return to health bodes well for a lineup already boasting 2017 National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton. New York’s postseason hopes may rely on ace Luis Severino returning to his pre-All-Star break form after struggling in the second half of the season.

Over in the National League, things are a little more interesting, as nail-biting races for both divisional titles and the Wild Card will likely come down to the final day. The Atlanta Braves (87-68) are the only team with their fate already determined after a division-clinching win against the Philadelphia Phillies last Saturday night. The Braves have been led all season by the strong play of veterans Freddie Freeman (.311 BA) and Nick Markakis (.304 BA) and will look to make some noise in their first trip to the playoffs since 2013.

Kris Bryant and the Chicago Cubs are looking to hold onto the National League Central title as they lead the Milwaukee Brewers by 2.5 games. However, both teams should find themselves in the playoffs as the Brewers currently possess one of the two wild card slots, along with the St. Louis Cardinals (86-69). The Cubs will look to overcome an injury-plagued bullpen while the Brewers will hope to ride the scorching hot play of MVP frontrunner Christian Yelich. The National League West looks very similar, as the Los Angeles Dodgers lead the Colorado Rockies by 1.5 games. The Dodgers will look to ace Clayton Kershaw (2.45 ERA) in the postseason, while the Rockies’ playoff hopes may rely on the return of slugger Trevor Story. Colorado currently sits 1.5 games back of the Wild Card, and will have to make a desperate push this weekend to secure a spot in the postseason.

With playoff hopes still hanging in the balance, the last weekend of the 2018 season should be an exciting one.

chicago cubs
Photo Courtesy of Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Providence College Investigates

by The Cowl Editor


PCI


The Boston Red Sox Will Win the World Series

By Scott Jarosz ’21

Sports Staff

boston red sox mlb playoffs world series
Photo Courtesy of Jen McCaffrey

2018 has been a memorable year for America’s favorite pastime, and especially for Major League Baseball. Virtually every division in the National League is showing a tight race for the top spot. The Oakland Athletics continue to chase down the Houston Astros in the American League West as playoffs loom around the corner. There is one team, however, that has handily separated itself from the rest, and that team is the Boston Red Sox, who I predict will win the 2018 World Series.

Coming into the 2018 season with a brand-new manager, former MLB infielder Alex Cora, no one knew  what to expect from the Red Sox. Cora had previously been a part of the Red Sox as a player from 2005-2008, and his only prior coaching experience was as a bench coach for the Houston Astros in 2017. Nonetheless, the Boston Red Sox offered Cora the position of manager after the Astros had just recently knocked the Red Sox out of the playoffs in the 2017 ALDS, and Cora accepted the offer, which lasts through 2020.

Despite a lack of previous experience as manager, Cora took the helm in Boston with confidence, and it has showed. The Red Sox have racked up 100 wins this season for the first time since 1946, and are still the only team to have reached 107 wins this season. The Red Sox clinched a playoff berth back on Sept. 11 with a win over the  Toronto Blue Jays. On Sept. 20, they clinched the AL East title by beating the New York Yankees 11-6. As if this was not enough to cap off an incredible regular season, the Red Sox beat the  Cleveland Indians on Sept. 21 to tie the franchise win record of 105 wins, which was set back in 1912.

While capturing the division title and tying the franchise win record are great accomplishments, one question remains: do the Red Sox have what it takes to be successful in the playoffs and ultimately bring a World Series title back to Boston? The Red Sox have one of the most dangerous lineups in all of baseball, led by the league’s batting average leader Mookie Betts, RBI leader J.D. Martinez, as well as shortstop Xander Bogaerts and leftfielder Andrew Benintendi, who have both proven to be integral parts of Boston’s lineup. The Red Sox also have a dominant starting rotation featuring Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez. If the Red Sox continue to play as they have since opening day and the bullpen is able to hold off playoff opponents late in games, the Boston Red Sox will be the 2018 World Series Champions.

 

Red Sox-Yankees Rivalry is Back On

by The Cowl Editor


Professional Sports


By Jack Belanger ’21

Sports Co-Editor

boston red sox new york yankees rivalry
Photo Courtesy of Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports

After the first week of the Major League Baseball season, there is already plenty of excitement around the league. Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels is showing he can dominate on, the mound, and at the plate, the Astros strong play has carried over from last year, and the Mets have surprisingly jumped out hot to start the year. The most interesting storyline this year could be the potential resurgence of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, who played their first series this week.

Both teams added fuel to fire this offseason as the Yankees hired Red Sox enemy Aaron Boone as their new manager and signed 2017 home run leader Giancarlo Stanton.

The Sox made moves of their own by signing outfielder J.D. Martinez and hiring former Red Sox infielder Alex Cora as their manager. Making the playoffs is not the goal for these teams as both owners expect their teams to compete for a title year in and year out. This year, the teams could potentially meet in the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Coming into their first series of the season at Fenway Park, the Red Sox and Yankees each pegged their top three starters to pitch in the series. Each team sent their ace out for the first game as Boston’s Chris Sale faced off against New York’s Luis Severino. Sale pitched like the true ace he is and only gave up one run in six innings. Severino, however, struggled and allowed five runs in five innings. Overall, the Sox won 14-1, highlighted by right fielder Mookie Betts’ grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning. The game had a playoff atmosphere right from the beginning, as the Sox were looking to make a statement win over the AL East favorites. Boos and jeers were constant throughout the night, especially when Yankees stars Aaron Judge and Stanton came up to bat.

The next night the Yanks returned a favor as they scored four runs against pitcher David Price in the first inning and scored eight runs through four innings though the Sox fought back to make it a close game. A brawl also broke out after Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelley hit Yankee Tyler Austin. Austin then charged the mound and both team’s benches cleared out. This opening series has brought a spark back to the rivalry that will continue throughout the season.

Last season was the first year since 2009 that both the Yankees and the Red Sox make it to the playoffs. For the past eight seasons, Boston and New York have had their fair share of disappointing years, causing the rivalry to cool down.

Last season saw the Red Sox win 93 games and their second consecutive division title but lose in the American League Divisions Series, this time to the eventual champs, the Houston Astros. The Yankees, on the other hand, came into 2017 looking to continue to rebuild after only winning 84 games in 2016, and wound up winning 91 games due to a break-out season by rookie sensation Judge and were one win away from going to the World Series, also losing to Houston. The Yankees beat the Red Sox in the season series, 11-8.