Delivering bad news is never easy. Many people choose the explosive, erratic tirade to reveal the worst truths, at least when it comes to romantic relationships. “I have never really loved you; I just felt sorry for you!!!” (For example.) Maybe because it’s easier to get through it faster. But even in that, would one believe those words, erupting from a foaming, red face?
That’s why I think Lou Merloni is good source for insights about the Sox. Not the kind that are revealed from a sports radio call-in segment, where guys are sitting in traffic and hungry and not fully aware of what pours forth. The antithesis is Lou Merloni, he knows how make to a point, in a measured, thoughtful way. Last week, he told Red Sox Nation that he is concerned about Papelbon. That means all of us should have concern. It is just spring training, as he notes, but our concerns go back to all last season, when Pap and Dice-K competed for inconsistent player of the year award. Professor Sean McAdam followed this discussion by asking if Papelbon is in denial? Using psychological terms, even informally, when talking about Pap is easy to do. We can think of many other possible diagnoses. That is also what I love about closers. With Papelbon, the erratic intensity, the goggle-drunken Irish -dancing nut is what I hope for in a closer. But Pap, maybe Lou has a point, and maybe you ought to think about his delivery. After all, Merloni is never full of baloney.
Thomas’ Trolley Top First Half Highlights
10) Big Papi Winning the Home Run Derby: Meaningless but memorable
9) Darnell’s first at-bat home run and game-winning sac fly: Who’s there? Darnell I am
8) Opening Day Comeback against the Yankees: Full Blossomed Optimism, which vanished faster than Jayson Werth’s liner back to Dice-K on May 22, which leads me to . . .
7) Dice-K’s One Hittter against the Phillies, May 22: Dreaming in Technicolor of the old Dice-K
6) Clay Buchholz’s Complete Game Shutout against the O’s, June 4th: Masterful Season in the making.
5) Big Papi’s 2 homer, 4 rbi pounding of the Tigers, May 14: Meaningful & memorable May
4) Papelbon’s save against the Yankees, May 18th: Saving the game and our souls
3) Nomah Night, May 5th: The Past is the Present, or something like that.
2) Dustin’s 3 HR Laser Show, Colorado, June 24th: Fans required to wear protective gear in the left field stands.
1) Daniel Nava’s First-at-Bat Grand Slam: The story with many stories, like Tolstoy.
I was distracted yesterday, since I was happy to get on the road to see some live baseball. Sadly, I wasn’t on my way to see the Sox. Or perhaps not so sadly. After watching highlights and reading some of the brutish details of miscommunication, I realize my travels were much more fruitful.
The lucky pairs of dice I usually set up when Dice-K pitches went missing. Then I ran out of time and we had to head out to Philly, where the temps stayed in the low 90s and where my lovely girlfriend sat patiently while we sweated out the first 6 innings.We drank lots of water and I held lemon ice against her forehead. (To my fellow gentleman baseball fans, you might consider some different brands of deodorant and/or a nice cologne. It’s a baseball game, I know, but you know . ..do something and you will Smell better)
There was relief later when, after Greg Dobbs’ home run put the Phils ahead, we headed to McFadden’s inside the park, where the AC was pumping. And also where at game’s end in celebration of Halladay’s beautiful complete game, beautiful women wearing x-mas in July elf miniskirts were pouring shots straight out of the bottles into the mouths of thirsty boys and girls, whose necks craned up like baby birds.This was relief, and it was all my girlfriend’s idea. Those womens are smarter, ye see. And they smell nice too, even in 100 degree heat.
Back to the Sox. Off-track again. Derailed. But not much more than our pitching efforts last night. As I watched the board at Citizen’s Bank Park, I was excited by the Sox’s lead built against Garza, especially after last Wednesday’s ace performance. But I reminded myself, the game was long from over. I just had that feeling.I won’t say more about the middle relief. See last week’s entries. You are tired of my bemoaning Ramon. Nor can I solve the mysteries of Dice-K, any more than I can solve the dealings of Jacoby’s hidden path to health. Everyone knows it. A deal is coming. Patti Smith is singing in my earphones. Bob Dylan’s “Changing of the Guards.” How about throwing Dice into the pen??? There are no other solutions. Dice in middle relief. A new nickname is on the horizon. A new life found?
“A messenger arrived, with a black nightingale. . .peace will come with tranquility and a splendor on the wheels of fire, but will bring us no reward when her false idols fall. . .”
playing for James Caldwell High School. He went on to play for West Point.
This past year, our university Men’s Soccer team won its first Div. 1 NCAA Tournament Game, on our home field. It was singularly the most exciting sporting event I have witnessed in 13 years on our small campus, a home game against UConn. I started going to soccer games about 4 years ago, and I mostly watched the women’s team, since my student Alessandra DeTata was doing well. I was a fair weather fan at first, trying to follow the action with little knowledge of rules. A yellow card was bad, I could tell that. And goals were good.. But this year was different, with both the men’s & women’s teams going to the tournament, and at both games I cheered until my voice was gone and my bones were frozen from the 40 degree rainfall conditions. And now the World Cup means even more, when 4 years ago I didn’t watch any of it, even preview commercials.
There is nothing like seeing a game in person, smelling the grass, whether its soccer or baseball, which is the reason I drive to Citizen’s Bank Park to root for my baseball mistress(the Phillies–more about that tomorrow).The talent, technique, physical intensity, speed and also the emotional extremes all have found a place under my skin, and with my students playing, the game has grown roots in my heart. As Coach Bradley and the players take the field today, I will watch with that and with the addition of a heavy heart after the death of my brother’s friend, John. In a blog article in the New York Times, Coach Bradley’s ties to John were revealed:
Soccer Blog: Coach Bradley
GO TEAM USA
Notes: I would not be following my duties or my thoughts if I didn’t talk Sox. The good game, bad game trends, the high and lows continue at Fenway. Today is filled with the anticipation about whether we can get two solid starts in a row from Dice-K and also two consecutive good starts in the Lackey-Dice combo. Somehow I knew our bats would explode at Fenway against Moyer, but I wasn’t thinking we would tune up to 12 runs. And there was Mikey Lowell hitting one over the monster with only his hands. The price of admission for that hug between he and Papi.Looking forward to more bombs today. Blanton can be tough but if he misses with a fastball, the fans in the Green Monster seats better keep their hands free of the beers they are drinking when the Red Sox are batting. GO RED SOX!
On the ipod, a painfully timely song: Day After Tomorrow, Tom Waits
I promised fellow Sox fans I would help Dice K with my newly found dice, three pairs that were in an old storage box. I think they came with a deck of cards in a bonus pack. The day I dug them out of the box was the night Dice-K came close to a no-hitter. As is the case with most games, I cut out everything and everyone in my life to watch.
In so doing I forgot to place the dice near my screen or perhaps more elaborately, wear them around my neck somehow. My girlfriend makes jewelry, but I haven’t ventured towards that request yet. After all, she, too, is a Sox fan(as all her boyfriends have been, even here in Jersey). Speaking of Jersey, besides our infamous reputation for delivering industrial waste to the world, many automobiles come fully equipped with rearview mirror dice. This is actually my preferred method of spell-casting for Dice-K victories. It’s funny how many Yankee fans drive around doing the same thing, unwittingly. Even here at the VW dealership, from where I write this as my car gets serviced, several loud Yankee fans are driving off in Jettas, GTI & Passats, with dice dangling right above their GPS screens. (One patron donning an old Yankee cap was yelling for all the dealership to hear, “I need a stick, because I don’t like people driving my car!” Another example of Yankees avarice.I am not making this up.)
The other important personal subtext here is my pick up from waivers of Dice-K for my fantasy team, made up of fellow professors, adminstrators and deans. None of my league members would go near him. Two hours before the roster deadline yesterday, I made a quick exchange for Kevin Slowey. Normally, I don’t win these kinds of leagues since I have a hard time rooting for other players. Dice-K now accompanies Youk, Drew, Buchholz, Lester, and Scutoro on my team, the Idiot Winds. Hope you get the references.
The numbers: 15 scoreless innings for Dice over two games. 4 hits(I know, it’s only the Indians). A 0.75 WHIP.
And $175 for my 30,000 mile service on my Red Sox red GTI.
On the speakers in the dealership waiting room: “Whole Lotta Love” Led Zeppelin
Way down inside, we needed Dice-K
If I were from another planet and landed on earth last night, with the assignment of returning home with a report on baseball, I would begin by saying that there are only three humans in the game. That’s one pitcher, one hitter, and one less fit human called an umpire. This umpire, with the ugliest uniform doesn’t sign autographs and is very rarely greeted with the human sound called cheering.The other two players are named Griffey and Gallaraga.
For the first time this season, Joe West is not the most famous(infamous?) umpire in baseball. The 3rd top search on Google for Jim Joyce today is followed by the phrase BLOWN CALL. This will, as it seems now, follow him for the rest of his career. But these things happen in baseball. He will have to live with it, just like Buckner did. But I don’t see Tigers fans giving him a standing ovation twenty years from now.
In the Umpire Rule Book, “umpire dignity” is second only to one other mantra: “make the right call.” After the blown call, Joyce admitted his mistake. This is an example of dignity. As is Jim Leyland’s postgame interview. Last night, Leyland displayed his best. Pure wisdom.
(Before I move on to our Sox, can someone please tell me why the Avis ad on this/my Red Sox blog says “Proud Sponsor of the Yankees.”??? That is almost as incomprehensible as the Memorial Day Hat having a Made in China tag.)
All the reports on Griffey’s retirement made me think of one current Red Sox player, the one who, like Griffey, runs hard after fly balls. The commentary on ESPN repeated how often Griffey was on the DL. More than a majority of the outflield highlights showed Griffey losing the fight with the wall by TKO, as he went down time after time.Is there a clear correlation between risk and durability.Unless this is a case of Fragile Freddy Syndrome, as smartly written about by Chad Finn in yesterday’s Globe. My humble blog advice to Ellsbury is to stop running into the wall(not to mention your teammates), unless it’s the postseason.
Yes, a team from Boston USA, called the Red Sox, my fellow creatures, plays the game..Still
We were all worried about Dice-k, with many fans claiming they would watch with one-eye closed or not at all. Dice-K climbed out of the Dice-Maze and turned the boos (WTFFF–“What the F**K Fenway Fans?”) to cheers loud enough for a cap tip.You know the rest.
In honor of June and summer–Marilyn Reading Joyce:
On May 26th, fellow Paisan (redundancy intended), Tony Massarotti, wrote, “[t]hough nothing is ever guaranteed in baseball, there is every reason to believe Lester has turned the corner for good.” Can I get a second motion on that? There’s a third motion and millions more. That was easy–nothing else seems as true when thinking about our pitching. I will repeat what Tony repeated: “Jon Lester has the highest career winning percentage of all ALL-TIME after 100 starts. ALL-TIME. If we start to doubt and get caught up in the Dice-Maze, we can rest assured with Lester, who clears us out of the rotational maze.
So what do we do about Dice-K, who made headlines today for all the reasons opposite his last start in Philly. Didn’t he make it look so easy, and against one of the toughest line-ups in baseball? When things are going well for any Major League player, it always looks effortless and natural. I have been watching baseball for 86 percent of my life, but I can’t pretend to know what the heck Dice-K is doing out there when he is that wild. As I tried to follow the Twitter feed(ing) frenzy during the first five innings last night, there were hundreds of ideas, but equal parts cheering and woes. It’s sort of like sitting in a room with a bunch of fans. Sort of.
I went to the bookstore after Bill Hall’s home run, which did, in fact, look quite effortless. When his balance falls on his back leg, he looks as though he can hit 50 at will.
I bought Doug Glanville’s The Game From Where I Stand. “[M]ost of us have only a dim understanding of the lives of major league players–until now,” the book jacket says. That phrase alone has kept me thinking about Dice-K and the mysteries therein. Will the next start be another strong one, alternating each time? Perhaps more importantly, what does he need to be nearly unhittable? Is it personal, cultural, Fenwayal? I return to the moment one Japanese reported revealed at Yankee Stadium. He had never, throughout Dice-K’s entire career seen him so mystified and emotional trying to answer questions, as “though he was about to burst into tears.”
PS. In the voodoo corner, I forgot to put the dice that came with my pack of playing cards out on the desk, as I did for the last start. I won’t forget next time.
In imitation of Professor Peter Abraham at the Globe, I will report “on the Ipod right now”–
West Country Girl by Nick Cave and Bad Seeds.
AP PHOTO BY CAMERON SMITH