Professor Daniel Gilbert(a real professor as opposed to my nicknamed Globe journalists), a professor of psychology at Harvard, wrote in the NYTimes about the mind’s workings under pressure, as in the case of Rodriguez’s 600th home run. In his opening sentence, he says “The Boston Red Sox haven’t given their fans much to cheer about this summer, so we have had to take our pleasure where could find it, for example, by watching Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees struggle to hit his 600th career home run—again and again and again.”
I am not about to take on a Harvard Professor, especially one who has written excellent books on the subject of happiness. After reading his bio, I realized I didn’t know he also has a tv show, “The Emotional Life,” to top off his achievements. His essay, “The Weight at the Plate” is illuminating. But it’s that first sentence that has got me stirring this morning. Some may say, well that’s because it’s true and the truth hurts. Not only that, these injuries, especially Youk’s thumb, hurt like hell. But is all this swelling going to silence us? Are all these broken bones enough to choke our cheers?
I wrote about an article earlier in the season that challenged Red Sox fans to stop acting like Yankee fans. With 27 rings, the Yankees have come to expect a championship every year. That’s natural, even if some think that the way they got there is unnatural. So be it. With two rings in the last ten years, are we spoiled and greedy? First, we love this rivalry. And any great play or better, any victory over the Yankees, gives us something to cheer about. Will this be a Bronx massacre that desecrates our entire season? Well, maybe.
I keep thinking about the tickets I bought for October 2 at Fenway. The second to last game of the season AND it’s against the Yankees. Some somber fellow Sox fans have said to me that the game will be meaningless, why bother going. I won’t write my dissertation on why i love baseball here. I will say that there is a long list of moments this season where I have thrown my hat into the air in celebration, some of which are listed in my first-half highlights list. Yesterday I saw a surfer with a t-shirt that said, “The Journey is the Destination.” Somewhat of a cliche these days, bur you know that phrase stuck with me through the day. I don’t mean to get too mystical, but I do intend to convince myself, or even you, that this season is not even close to over.
Right of the Pesky Pole Notes:
After yesterday’s entry on Youk’s thumb, I started thinking about a list of things we need in place of Youk’s thumb, or more literally, his absence.
In no particular order:
Drew’s clutch hits
Please add more to the list. . . .
When I heard Joe Castiglione talk today about Pedro Martinez’s use of the subjunctive tense during interviews I thought it was the only high point of the game. English professors everywhere popped champagne for the rebirth of proper English, not only employed by big leaguers but pointed out by radio announcers.I heard Tampa won, then the Yankees won, then my imagination started going towards a longer off-season, and my own English turned to French, if you get me and i know you do.
Beltre hit another homer over the 388 ft wall and we were back in it. I had to recall the look of Oakland’s wall as I listened to the game. The mountains of Virgina don’t afford much internet power but the radio is as clear as ever. 67 games left, 16 total with New York and Tampa is mainly what I heard.
Beltre hit another home run and we were back in it. We were back in it with two men on, with bases loaded, with that young A’s fireballer going wild west with 99’s. We were back in it when Clay took the mound today. Coco Crisp was 0 for 18 until Boston showed up. When I gave my assistant, a New England native, a Coco bobblehead, Crisp was soon traded. Last year, the Ellsbury big head bobble went on sale and that now stands in her office next to Coco. Can we call this a bobblehead curse?
Do you sense dark days of August in my voice? What the hell was I saying about being back in it? We said 67 games, right? So why can’t we score after the 7th inning recently?
My own head feels all a bobble after losing two out of three to a B-squad A’s. My head is bobbling with too many ideas, concerns and questions. But I will make sense of it somehow.
Maybe that will happen Friday when I see the future playing in Lynchburg, when the Hillcats take on Salem. Though it’s hard to predict, some of the young talent on the Salem Red Sox will play great ball someday. When Alex Rodriquez was traded to the Yankees, the Rangers chose Joaquin Arias over Robinson Cano. Things that may you go hmmmmm. . .I don’t want to sound like Donald Rumsfeld when I start with known knowns and the unknown unknowns, but I have to keep reminding myself that baseball is quirky and painfully unpredictable. I mean why the hell are the Orioles 6-6 against us?
Clay wasn’t himself. Neither was Dice-K, this time that was a good thing. Who is he, anyway? We’ll figure that out, like a long marriage. Everyone, though, from the cast of Cheers to the Boston Globe knows that the bullpen is ready for changes. Bowden will get a few more chances, I guess. I am happy to see Lowrie’s return, even if we aren’t so sure about his dispositions(sic).
So what about the Cape Crusader (title stolen from ESPN de mag)? Fellow Jerseyan Anthony Ranaudo is making his superman status known in the Cape league with his 6′ 7″ frame shooting 94 mph. Even if the Boras monster is difficult, I think it’s time to push the chips onto his number. It’s always about pitching, damn pitching, goddamned pitching, like the first three rules of Golf. Keep your eye on the ball, keep your eye on the damn ball, keep your eye on the goddamn ball.. . .
When the Sox won the other night, I loved the sight of Dustin leading the high-five line with Tito and then I saw the future. Too far into the future perhaps. He could outwit Yogi and Ozzie with his managerial quips I bet. First, we have to turn some tides and what better place to do that than Seattle. I promise I will try to make my head will stay still
The Thomas’ Trolley First Annual Poetry Prize Deadline is fast approaching, but if you work in my world, a deadline is a deadline and the work gets done down to the very smallest decimal of the last second before the deadline. So, it’s July 31st at Midnight. We are looking for Red Sox Poetry. Can you resist being crowned the Bard of the Red Sox by this wildly popular blog? Yes, someone in China and another in Australia checked in. No, it’s not a million, nor is it wildly popular but maybe your poem can make it so. Send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org and you could win a really nice Red Sox Prize. If you enter now, you might the only entrant and the odds are with you. Remember, a minimum of 6 lines. The rest of it is up to you.
After writing a beautiful poem about running, based on images of a long-distance runner he saw at 2am in New York CIty, the late Kashmiri poet Agha Shahid Ali was inspired to start running. He ran most days for the rest of his short life. Whenever he read the poem at a public reading, he quipped, “Don’t tell me literature doesn’t have a purpose in our lives–it got me to start running.”
A few days ago, the Red Sox unveiled the beautiful bronze tribute to Pesky, DiMaggio, Doerr and Williams.(I happen to love bronze sculptures.) All of you know this already, along with Halberstam’s great book. Here we have another example of what great writing can do in the world. Would the dedication have happened without the book? Perhaps. But now the book and this quartet are forever linked.
On page 43, in a chapter about Pesky, Halberstam writes about Pesky’s respect for Willie Stargell. “To this day, when Pesky spots a young player he likes not just as a player but as a man, he uses Stargell as his measuring rod, the requisite qualities being uncommon inner strength and human richness.” The reason I have the Willie Stargell blues this morning has almost everything to do with the crumbling loss last night.This bullpen faltering again defeat is in stark(to state the obvious) contrast to the permanence of the Teammates. The statues cause me to wonder about elements of the game like consistency and duration.
Bard might have what it takes to become a great closer. For now, though, I believe he is the best set-up man in the game. In his bereavement absence (my sincere condolences to the Papelbon family) the Sox have been without their closer. Hindsight I know. But Lester’s Cleveland blues could have been cured not only by Adrian “don’t touch my head Beltre, but also by Papelbon’s consistency in Cleveland.
In the tradition of Ameican Roots music I call out to readers to respond. Whom do we call our Stargell? Or perhaps not so exact, who has the best inner strength and human richness on the Sox right now? After all, there aren’t many Willie Stargells in a lifetime. Nor are there friendships like Pesky-Doerr-DiMaggio-Williams that last over 60 years. The idea of that makes me just about weep.
PS.In the final minutes of their victory last night, the Celtics kept passing the ball to Paul Pierce, their Willie S.Tying the series up 2-2 was the best medicine after the bloop single by Branyun.
On the Ipod as I write this: “Keep on Runnin'” Cat Power
Note: A shout out to Jen, Red Sox Faithful, a blogger teammate.
I am not using the exclamation points for this entry’s title, so as not to duplicate the Boston Globe Headline for the 2007 World Series victory for fear of hyperbole. But the Sox looked that good. Maybe not 2007-World Series-sweep-good, but sweeping the Rays, with-the-best-record-in- baseball-good. That’s so good.
From what I could see of the dugout during the game, via MLB.Com, this is a club of passionate intensity, to use an overused phrase from Yeats’ poem, The Second Coming. Isn’t this a kind of baseball second coming, at least as far as this season goes? What was fractured and frustrating a few weeks ago has turned into this intensity. The other mood in the dugout was a relaxed, even joyful, confidence with smiles from Yo Adrian!-isn’t-Sox-baseball-fun-Beltre, expressions that I haven’t seen until last night. Jerry Remy pointed out, this is a Red Sox team that is clicking! No more slouching through what some of us worried would be an endless season.
Daniel Bard’s stinging the other night gives me even more hope for this season. Talk about good. In 8 innings of relief he has given up only 2 hits. This is in contrast to Ramon I bemoan Ramirez, who I tip my hat to for last night’s smooth inning. I would much rather tip my hat than tip my drink, which is usually going bottoms up when he comes into any game. I am beginning to imagine what may happen if the Red Sox re-draft Daniel’s younger brother, Luke, in a few years. Has there ever been a brother to brother save situation? Ah. So good.
Now back to my breakfast of leftover bbq’d stingray. Spicy, and a perfect accompaniment to my scrambled eggs.
PS. Today’s Poetry Prize goes to Peter Abraham for his Anglo-Saxonic Tweet(did I just write that?), which he wrote in the 9th inning: ” The cowbell clangers depart downcast.That’s two perfectly accented syllables in each half of the line with two alliterative phrases. Beautiful!