After Friday night’s loss, a Globe headline haunted me..”Sox Come Up Short.” Would this be the phrase we would be chanting until October? Third place behind the two best records in all of Baseball is coming up short. Looking at all the injuries is knowing and thinking about what could have been. But there are still many games to play, including next weekend’s series against you know who. Four games that might define the season.
photo by Kelvin Ma, Boston Herald
Another question always comes up. I am happy not to have the responsibility of deciding when to bring relief in from the bullpen. When I watched Clay walk out of the dugout as his beautiful start and shutout disintegrated, my only thought was that a pitcher like Buchholz wants the ball in the 9th, especially with our rickety pen. As the Monday morning pitcher, I think we wait until he gives up his own shutout. Why am I bemoaning a another comeback victory, and even when Ramon I bemoan Ramirez is now in the National league, perhaps where he has belonged all of his short career? I am happy to have witnessed Ramon’s best strikeout of the year before his departure. He threw a great splitter to Miguel Cabrera on Friday night and made him look foolish. Was Ramon actually throwing some nasty pitches on the eve of his trade? This was something Pap couldn’t do yesterday. But enough of that.
Scutaro will continue to have a huge impact. With the Ortizian magic and poise in the ninth inning two games in a row gives one the feeling that there is a potential to keep coming back, to sweat it out until the wheels come off. Is it the great bunt or the throwing error? Is it the long at bat that ends in the walk-off? It’s a victory no matter what. Two of three from the Tigers after a sweep of the Angels? We couldn’t ask for a better way for August to come upon us.
Right of the Pesky Pole Notes:
How do we not say anything about Ryan Kalish? There was some Kalishian magic, too, this weekend, and local celebrations were sparkling with Ryan’s first appearance at Fenway. Kalish was born in California but grew up and played baseball in nearby Shrewsbury, NJ, about 15 minutes up the road from where I write this. Tito’ heaped some Green Monster sized praise on the young player, comparing him to Trot Nixon. We could use another Trot, don’t you thnk?
In the other dugout was Jeff Frazier, from Pt Pleasant, 15 minutes in the opposite direction. With Anthongy Ranaudo’s (Jackson,N.J) rise I am starting to think that it’s truly possible to grow baseball players in the Garden State. If you look at some of the National All-Star games for High School players, you might assume that California and Georgia have the only fertile soil.
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.
I don’t even want to look. This game do that to you. I had some terrible dreams and tried to remember we are at the All-Star break. I don’t even want to read any of the news. It’sYouk and that ankle. His stance, besides his grimaced bouncing out of the box, looked as though his weight was shifting differently. Well, hell, his stance is like that. He could have nails inside his cleats and we wouldn’t know.
Crazy things can and will happen in the second half.
This season has had some exhausting lows and wild highs. This game do that to you. (You have your own ideas of its best and worst moments. I have to ponder that further.) Everyday I turn to the Globe and MLB.Com. Later in the day, I tune into WEEI and 98.5 and Red Sox blogs. I forgot I am supposed to vote to get him into the All-Star. Will he end up on crutches and join that crew on the bench? Last night, before Darnell smacked that double down the line, the camera panned a slovenly, tired group of guys hanging over the railing. That wasn’t a shot of disheartened, drunk Red Sox fans in the beach bar near left field. It was the Sox bench. A comeback would have changed that body language, more like the slang of losing. It would have changed my dreams, too. This game do that to you.
There have been essays written about optimism when one is a Sox fan, including one excellent piece by Jerry Thornton. It comes up a lot, this optimism/ pessimism thing. On the blogs and in the comment boxes, persnickety and downright mean peeps sling metaphorical pig snot at each other when the Sox lose. Three losses in a row guarantees some good action today.
Some will question Tito. Some will bemoan the Ramones of the bullpen. Pun and misspelling intended. Some will want Theo’s head. Some will tell Peter Abraham that he is a closet Yankee fan, even though he covers the Sox with a Sox-like grit and passion. Others will tell me to shut up. This game do that to you. “The Stresses of the Game” is the title of the next chapter I’ve reached in Doug Glanville’s new book. It helps to keep that in mind. There is a set of stresses for us as fans. Then there is the unimaginable stress as a player.
But as I write this, I am drawn back to video clip of Dustin provided by my fellow blogger, Fenway Bleacher Creature(FBC) Dustin says, in so many words, people counted us out in April and May, They talked about my slump. They talked about Papi’s slump.Then what happened??! Laser show. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to have him as a teammate. Hysterical.
If you are feeling like me this morning. Game over. No fight. Like we knew it all along with all those line-up changes and Lackey lacking, like you are looking at your shoes and can’t see the next game, remember there is another whole half of a season. And tomorrow is another game. Go watch Fever Pitch and have a cold beer. Or come over and watch it with me. I have the beer. And after last night, I have a case of it. This game do that to you. But then what happens?
Right of the Pesky Pole: Notes
I lifted the phrase, “This game do that to you” from the outstanding short story by Nicholas Mainieri in the baseball issue of The Southern Review. See my links for more about the lit mag.
The Orioles snapped a ten-game losing streak yesterday and I snapped an 11-day blog writing streak. Both were conscious, willful decisions.My reasons were personal, as you can see from the previous entry. (Thank you for the comments and emails from many new blogosphere friends.)
In fact, the Orioles reasons for winning were personal, too. It seemed they clawed back yesterday, determined to avert a sweep in front of a mixed crowd, where Sox fans chanting “Let’s Go Red Sox,” were so audible on my computer that I was confused about the game’s park. The O’s fans valiantly chanted back. Ah, Fenway South. It hurts being an O’s fan, so the players wrestled back for them. So why are you reading this on a Red Sox blog you are asking by now. Do I really need to hear pity for a team we needed to sweep?
Maybe it’s the gracious O’s fan, a colleague, who lives in Maryland (yes, he has a two hour commute,as opposed to my 12 minutes). Ken, a lifelong fan, was the first person I thought of when I found out I couldn’t go to the game on Friday. He suffered an 11-0 defeat, all while sitting behind the Red Sox dugout in our Fenway South filled stands. Of course it was all beautiful to me, and to us. As was Saturday. And then Sunday happened, all the clunky, just- missed plays, the bloopers, the hit-by-pitches, the sore backs, the decreased velocity of Lackey, the errors, the 0-for-Ortiz, the high-pitch counts, topped off with a high-dosage of bubble-gum mixed with tobacco for Tito.
The good news is that we are 14-5 over the last 19 games.
The good news is that Lackey isn’t injured given the suggestions yesterday about his velocity. It seems that Sox fans are going to protest each game Lackey grinds out. I have vowed my faith and remain by it. If the Antagonistas de Lackey continue their uprising, so be it. He will win the next time out. Before then, I suggest looking at the stats from the last 9 years. His record is 108-75. At 6’6″ and 245, he will give us the innings and win games, even sometimes when our bats get quiet.
PS. As I linked to the Globe to look over our place in the standings, I saw Professor Cafardo’s article about how meaningful this win was for the Orioles. I hope my entry doesn’t seem too unoriginal given the tone of Nick’s terrific insights. “To Orioles, this was a big deal.” But what the heck, I am writing as the Monday Morning Pitcher. Also, I await the return of the Boof. Where’s the Boof? His velocity is back up at 95 in a rehab session.
On the IPOD as I write this: Reckoner by Radiohead
I want to apologize. I was wrong. I said that Tigers fans wouldn’t applaud him twenty years from now, as Red Sox fans did for Buckner. Maybe it won’t be exactly like that, but yesterday they clapped for him, at least those fans along the ramp from the locker rooms. And having Gallaraga deliver the line-up card? I don’t even know what to say about this. Simply, it makes me love baseball even more than I do already.
The implications of my title yesterday were that Joyce’s career would end, and it would end in shame of having blown the most important call of his career, and that he would replay the moment with pain into old age.
This is the portrait of Jim Joyce I wanted to include yesterday:
It looks more like a mug shot, appropriate enough for where all this was headed the night before last. After what I have seen and heard and read and read for the past 36 hours, I think this picture is more important.
In James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, we find these words:
“O, Stephen will apologize . ..O, if not the eagles will come and pull out his eyes.”
Jim Joyce needs no eagles. He would have pulled out his own eyes.He entered yesterday’s game with tremendous courage, uncertain about what would happen. I raise my coffee cup, in the mean time, to Detroit’s fans and Jim Leyland.
Let me ask: has anyone seen an umpire this emotional? One of the job qualifications is stoicism. Let us be reminded that if players are flawed, then so are umpires. The game itself is imperfect. Do technology and replays make it perfect? Where does it stop? If steroids are not allowed to “enhance” performance, then why should we allow technology to do the same?
I was wrong about Joyce. And I may be wrong about some comments I posted last night and this morning. I want to see the call overturned. Then I agree with Tito and Theo. It’s an imperfect game. That’s the way it goes. Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. We contain multitudes, to paraphrase Wat Whitman. It’s complicated. Like Gallaraga shifting into overdrive in that new Corvette, the game moves on, as time does. PLAY BALL!!
PS. Wake’s knuckleball was again Knucklehell. Did we expect this series to have as many hits and runs? Without hits with RISP, we can’t sweep any series. But 2 out of 3? I’ll take it. Heading to Baltimore, how about a return of the favor from the last series. Sweep sweep sweep. Go SOX!
If Griffey’s retirement has been overshadowed by the imperfect Perfect Game, we needn’t worry. We have plenty of time to honor one of the greatest players of all time. Sometimes the news cycle goes every which way and important stories are overshadowed. On a personal note, the news of my Great-Grandfather’s death on the front page of the Newark Sunday Call in 1933 was adjacent to the Lindbergh baby’s disappearance.
According to Formosa & Hamburger, in their Baseball Field Guide, there are no rules when it comes to caps. Even more significant is the fact that the rules don’t even mention them(47). As the Red Sox were breaking other rules in the world of fashion, they smoked to a another win, even though it was awkward at first.Even with the walks, the Red Sox got 7 innings of Lesteration* Throughout the first three innings, he was uncomfortable and clearly frustrated with himself. I blame the new hat –It seemed to slip down further on his head, pressing on the ears. Even with its CoolBase technology,something wasn’t right.No worries–they have to wear them only two more times this season. But before we send the entire team off to an episode of What Not to Wear, there are a few things to keep in mind.
This is a Baseball blog, right? So I can have some fun here. It began with Professor Abraham mentioning Tito’s comments on the Extra Bases blog. We can just wear flag patches instead of these “dumb-***” hats, but MLB can’t sell patches, he said in so many words. Several of the reader comments were hysterical. We should mention that MLB will donate $1 to the Welcome Back Veterans Fund. A whole one dollar? I digress, but maybe the bill with Abe Lincoln’s face is more appropriate, on many levels. Then I wouldn’t hesitate at all
About the image above.(Photo Courtesy:Greg Peterson) As I watched the game, I kept wondering why I was having flashbacks to the turn of the century, and not the one we saw in our relatively recent past. Hugh Bedient wore a white hat, as did the whole Red Sox team.The unofficial American League Rookie of the year(20-9, 2.92) in 1912, his career ended after he was drafted for World War 1.In Honor of Bedient, and many others of course, I just added yesterday’s hat to my shopping cart. Go ahead, laugh all you want. My lovely girlfriend has even chimed in, adding that I will look like I just retired and moved to West Palm Beach. Hell, frivolity is part of the game. Enjoy, Baseball friends. Happy Memorial Day.
1) feeling associated with victory, provided by Jon Lester, usually following a win delivered by Clay Buchholz
2) the act of lesterating
3) grit and grace under pressure, even while wearing a silly hat at which your fans and beat writers are poking fun.
Origin: May 30, 2010, Boston, MA, USA, Fenway Park
1. Jollity, exhilaration, hillarity after sweating it out.
You already know the 1908 uniform. Yesterday could have been much worse, as the fans in the stands would have been waiting for Lester & Co to cook some afternoon BBQ.
I know it’s a game too soon and superstitious friends will curse me for mentioning it, but taking three from the Angels is the sweetest stand we’ve had thus far. But let’s talk about life. Baseball that is. As Nomar said to reporters before the game, I see those t-shirts, ” Baseball is Life” and that’s really true. More importantly, he said, “I have lifelong friends. I have family because of this uniform.” Then when he stood on the field he thanked the Red Sox, for “Bringing me back home, where I belong.” Beautiful. It was an emotional night, one filled with my favorite baseball nostalgia. And all around us in baseball is a theme of loyalty. Derek Jeter tied Lou Gehrig for consecutive games as a Yankee.(Yes, I do mention the Yankees on occasion. After all, what would we do without our rivalry?) Ryan Howard committed to a long career contract with the Phillies a long time, on baseball clocks, before going on the market as a free agent. In our nation, Tito notched his 1,000th game as Sox manager. And then there was Nomar, reminding us of what’s important in life. It’s baseball.