Happy New Year To All. May 2011 bring us the glory most of us are dreaming of after the terrific signings of the past month. But may it also bring us new baseball friends and all the joys of game itself. This is the time of year when the darkness of the off season starts to feel long. Thanks to the MLB Network, all of those replays of the last year quench a bit of our thirst.
In a recent issue of ESPN magazine, writers collectively reviewed rules across sports. Charles Curtis and Eddie Matz wrote about “tweaks” that transformed games. The one-hop out was nixed in 1858. While I wouldn’t call that a mere “tweak” it may have seemed like a small change back then, though its consequences were long and hugely pervasive. Imagine how many no-hitters Roy Halliday would pitch, they ask. The significance of their list reminds me that baseball must continue to proceed slowly with rule changes in order to manage unforeseen effects. The home-run review rule is fine by me, as it hasn’t altered play. An interesting proposition to change the balk rule, with a strict marking on the mound is a practical solution to reducing manager sprints to the face of an umpire. But, I wonder, again, is the issue one of forcing stricter limitations on interpretation the real way to go, or can we just better train those guys, with some salary incentives in the mix?
This past season, there was one element, not necessarily a rule, that annoyed me the most and it didn’t have to do directly with the action on the field. I never understand the announcers need to discuss a no-hitter in progress before the 7th inning. It seemed to me that this past year we experienced a great deal of no-hitter hype, most of it premature, as though reporters were racing to declare an election winner before the polls close. Jason Turbow has an excellent chapter on this superstition and practice in his book, The Baseball Codes. After reading this, I find I am not alone in my request for superstition to be as contagious in the booth as it is in the dugout.
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.