NESN and other members of the Fourth Estate on the Sox beat made a big, ironically humorous deal out of the Mayor's Cup today. Here's how the Projo's Brian MacPherson described today's prize:
Spring training is complete now that the Red Sox have clinched their fourth straight Mayor's Cup over the Minnesota Twins, three-run home runs from David Ortiz and Tug Hulett providing more than enough offense to back Clay Buchholz.
A piece of athletic tape already was on the Mayor's Cup "trophy" in the Red Sox clubhouse after the game -- though whoever inscribed it accidentally wrote "2000" and had to draw a thick line through one of the zeroes to make sure it read "2010."
Such is the thrill the Mayor's Cup elicits in the Red Sox clubhouse.
Yard-sale trophy or not, the Sox would end up taking it in truly dramatic fashion, with a 16-hit, 11-run onslaught against the Twins, including a three-run jimmy jack to put the game away by the gentleman shown cradling the Mayor's
And hey, I'll take it. For one thing, even a tongue-in-cheek hint of real competition is welcome this time of year.
For another, given how just two years ago Clay Buchholz reminded me of a stage-frightened child in a dance recital once he'd given up a home run, watching him turn things around today after Joe Mauer bludgeoned one of his fastballs to death in the first inning was pretty gratifying as well.
In fact, Buchholz's rough start didn't end there -- though the Sox came back to tie the game in the bottom of the first, he spotted the Twins their two-run lead back right away in the top of the second.
In the third, though, Buchholz picked up his first goose egg, and the Sox bats began slapping Carl Pavano silly, thanks to a lethal V-Mart / Pedroia / Youkilis combination at the top of the order (a combined 11 for 13 today, contributing a collective 8 runs).
By the fourth inning, the Sox pulled away, 8-4, thanks to Papi's round-tripper. In the sixth, Tug Hulett and his unforgettable moniker officially began to enrich our lives, when he tacked on his own three-run blast off the second coming of El Guapo.
Meanwhile, Buchholz grew stronger and more confident as the game went on. He had surrendered four runs in six outs to start things off, but he didn't get that deer-in-the-headlights look. He stayed focused and settled, retiring the last nine hitters he faced.
MacPherson's verdict is that there was good news and bad news for Buchholz. And of course there's always small sample size, it's early yet, blah blah.
But from the new muscle he's added in the off-season to the way he regained his poise on the mound this afternoon, there's no denying that the Stickbug has grown.