My absence didn't slow down the Red Sox, of course, who continued to assert their interleague dominance.
What was it like missing games and are you OK?
–James, Middletown, R.I.
Very strange and somewhat scary. In my 10 seasons of announcing Red Sox baseball, I had never missed a game for which I was scheduled to work, which spanned more than 1,300 Red Sox telecasts and 11 nationally televised games on TBS. In Cleveland, before the fourth game of the series on Thursday, I experienced what has been diagnosed as vertigo. I missed the last game of the trip and the first two of this homestand before returning Tuesday night for the beginning of this series against Arizona.
I am extremely thankful to Dr. Larry Ronan and Dr. Paul Cusick of Mass General Hospital for all that they have done to assist me in helping to get me back incredibly quickly.
Does the Red Sox' play against the Philadelphia Phillies over the weekend provide some assurance that things are finally heading in the right direction?
–Ramon, Somerville, Mass.
Yes. Part of it is that the Phillies are really struggling offensively and really miss Jimmy Rollins as their spark plug. His MVP abilities and stature around the clubhouse and on the field are impossible to replace.
But yes, the Red Sox are heading in the right direction and I think the amazing part is that some of the most unexpected heroes are getting it done. The Darnell McDonald's and Daniel Nava's are winning some of these games, and that’s what makes a winning team. Depth and unexpected bench help can win a lot of games. This has been fun and can only help when all the regulars do return. The Red Sox just need to stay close to the Rays and Yanks in the meantime.
Why do the Red Sox seem to enjoy so much success against the National League over the years?
–Tara, Northbridge, Mass.
I think these things are cyclical. Just look at the domination of the All-Star Games over the past decade. The bulk of of better players are currently in the American League. National League pitchers, for the most part, thrive in their own league but do not fair as well against the AL.
I think this will change again as it always seems to. I do believe the DH has a large part to do with it as well. I realize the NL teams have pinch-hitting specialists, but they are not guys who are DH-only types of guys. Generally, they are utility guys who can also pinch hit — a guy like Alex Cora comes to mind.
Terry Francona has always said it is unfair because AL teams are put together to compete with AL teams. When AL teams go to NL parks, they are undermanned. That said, the results suggest otherwise. The trend will shift again at some point, I am sure.
Has interleague play run its course? Do you like interleague play and why?
–Don, Manchester, N.H.
I do very much. Selfishly, I like working and seeing and experiencing all the parks in MLB. I like seeing the stars of the other league and to see how the other half exists. Working in some of the cathedrals of the other league and working in them is great. Dodgers Stadium and Wrigley Field come to mind.
None of this would be possible without the current structure. I realize this is not all about me, but I really like it.
Now from a fan standpoint, if the fans hated it or if it was a failure, MLB would have abandoned the idea years ago. It works and it's fun. The thing that needs to be somehow fixed is the different schedules that teams face that makes the schedule unfair. What needs to change is the natural rival thing. Every team in a division should play the same teams. Sorry New York, Chicago and L.A., but it is for the better of MLB as a whole.
Is it hard not seeing these teams regularly to prepare for the games?
Normally yes, except that I am a baseball freak. When our games are over, I drive back home and watch the TV package to relax before heading to bed. I see West Coast teams more than anything just because of the time of day that I return home, but it relaxes me to watch others work and I enjoy watching the West Coast teams.
So generally, when these games and series arrive, I am ready with some knowledge of how the teams are constructed and their strengths and weaknesses. I think back to the one-game playoff I did in 2007 for TBS between the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies. I found out I was doing the game just 18 hours before it started. Had I not had the MLB package and watched a lot of both of their games, I would have been clueless. Also, the MLB.TV package on my computer for the road is also extremely helpful — if the hotel has a strong enough signal.
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