Yawkey Way name change gets green light from Boston

Boston officials Thursday approved changing the name of Yawkey Way, the street outside Fenway Park, because of allegations that former Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey was a racist who resisted hiring black ballplayers in the 1940s and ’50s.

The Red Sox filed a petition with the commission in February and said that restoring the Jersey Street name is intended to reinforce that Fenway Park is “inclusive and welcoming to all.”

Principal owner John Henry told the Boston Herald last year that “I am still haunted by what went on here a long time before we arrived.”

Yawkey owned the Red Sox from 1933 until 1976. The Red Sox were the last Major League Baseball franchise to field a black player, when infielder Pumpsie Green was called up in 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson debuted for the Dodgers.

Prior to that, the team chose not to sign several prominent black players, including Robinson and Willie Mays.

The Yawkey Foundations acknowledged that in its statement but said the good it has done far outweighs the negative, including the more than $300 million the foundation has provided to organizations throughout the city.

Snell enters the game against the Red Sox riding a most unusual streak for him: He has posted back-to-back starts without a walk, representing the first time he has done so during his professional career since way back when he was a rookie baller in 2011 — and he faced just seven batters in each of those games back then, compared to 23 and 25 during his active streak.

Remarkably, Snell has done this despite having yet to improve upon the one aspect of his game that might result in a significant breakthrough — getting strike one. Through five starts, he has a mere 54 percent first-pitch strike rate, and in both of his walkless outings, his rate was just 52 percent. In fact, since his major league debut on April 23, 2016, Snell’s 55.1 percent first-pitch strike rate is fourth worst among pitchers who have faced at least 1,000 batters.

In other words, Snell is going to need to show some sort of improvement getting ahead in counts before I’d fully buy into the idea that he’s at the level of a top-40 fantasy starting pitcher. Considering some of his other improvements, however, I am more than willing to buy in at anything even slightly beneath that price point, because I think it’s an area in which he’ll improve.

For one, Snell has shown a noticeable increase in fastball velocity since a mid-2017 demotion to Triple-A Durham so he could refocus and polish his mechanics. As a rookie in 2016, he averaged 93.5 mph with the pitch, and in his first eight starts of 2017 (pre-demotion) he averaged 93.6 mph. In his 21 starts since then, he has seen that speed increase to 94.8 mph. As a result, Snell has allowed a .307 wOBA with his fastball during that span, down from .412 in his career before the demotion.

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