The Sox need a “larger-than-lifer”. What I mean is-they need a man who can carry not only the team to a championship, but also inspire teammates to do so.
The word “superstar” has been used so much that it no longer means a lot. “Larger than lifer” can probably be defined by who is one and who is not one. Ted Williams was one. Yaz was one. Pedro was one. Luis Tiant was one. Manny Ramirez was not one. For a time in the early 00’s, Big Papi was one. An “ltl”, as I will abbreviate it, is capable of taking over a title run, as Yaz did in 1967. He also must be one over several years.
Some Sox examples- Yaz going 7 for 8 with 6 rbi’s in the final two games of the 67 race. Tiant throwing over 160 pitches to win the fourth game of the 75 World Series. Pedro throwing six no-hit innings to wrap up the 1999 Divisional Series. Nomar hitting two grand slam homers in a game.
Some Sox examples-Yaz going 7 for 8 with 6 rbi’s in the final two games against the Twins in 67. Tiant throwing 160 pitches to win the fourth game of the 75 World Series. Pedro throwing six no-hit innings to wrap up the 1999 AL Division Series. Nomar hitting two grand slam homers in a game.
In Boston, every sport has had a few. Larry Bird. Bobby Orr. Bill Russell. Right now, however the only “certified” one seems to be the Pats’ number 12. The Celtic Big Three have been great, but not ltl’s. The Bruins’ Tyler Seguin may be one someday, but not yet. The Sox, in my opinion, need one badly. They are not easy to find. On the pitching staff, neither Beckett, Lester, or Buchholz will qualify. Dustin Pedroia has been an MVP, but is not yet an ltl.
But someone else has a chance, if he continues to mature, is Jacoby Ellsbury. Even his ancestry stands out. He is the first Native American of Navajo descent to reach the major leagues. In his first full season of 2008, he was third in Rookie of the Year voting, stealing 50 bases and hitting .280 with 9 homers. The following season he led the league with 70 stolen bases (caught only 12 times),and hit 301. After an injury-plagued 2010. Ellsbury had a true breakout year in 2011-.321, 212 hits, 46 doubles, 32 homers, 105 rbi’s, a league-leading 364 total bases. His steals did fall to 39, possibly because he was on first base less often. If the team hadn’t folded, he might have been MVP.
In five years with the Sox, he is batting .301 with 175 stolen bases, 106 doubles and 23 triples. He has committed only two outfield errors and started 6 double plays. He plays Fenway’s tricky center field very well.
For a fifth-year player,he has already accomplished a lot. He hit .438 in the 2007 World Series. In the 2008 ALDS, he hit the first three-run triple in postseason history. Shortly after, he stole second. On April 26, 2009, he stole home off Andy Petitte, the Sox first “pure” steal of home in 15 years. The list goes on.
Some may say that Ellsbury is not a “holler-guy” like Larry Bird or A-Rod. But Carl Yaz wanted only to be allowed to do his thing, have a couple of beers and go home, and he was definitely an ltl-er. So was Bobby Orr, basically a low-key guy.
A year ago, writers were saying Ellsbury was “playing himself out of Boston”, and would not be re-signed in 2014. Those days should be over. The man has a good chance of joining the ltl group. The Sox surely need one.