Strike three and game three. Saltlamacchia struck out swinging; at least he swung. The whole team swung during the past three games. Granted, they lost, three times over and it doesn’t look good from afar. Not to mention the loss to Detroit in the makeup game from May 28. The Red Sox have four dark losses in a row. But it could be worse, it could be April again and they could have played worse.
It’s better to look at the little things. It’s a double play to end an inning that has stretched on for too long. It’s Varitek’s homerun during the bottom of the fourth to put the right colored Sox on the scoreboard during the May 31st game. Or Varitek’s base hit in that same game during the bottom of the sixth after 4 runs were gained by the White Sox, just to lift the team again to realize, ‘hey, we’re still playing.’ Ortiz’s Monster homerun in the sixth during yesterday’s game, putting the Red Sox on top, at least for a moment.
The moments that inflate the spirits of the team and the fans, they came back from a rough beginning, they played almost non-stop through the month of May. It’s Jenks coming back after being gone for the month, and coming back to play against his former team. It’s errors made by the umpires, like the fifth inning declaration that Juan Pierre was safe, though all angles (except apparently Marty Foster’s) that Pedroia had tagged him. It’s the little things like Rene Rancourt singing the anthem before the game because the Bruins were in Vancouver. It’s the movement of Saturday’s game from it’s night slot to a 1:00 pm time just so fans can watch the Bruins take on Vancouver. It’s the little things that make the losses not as dark.
In the aftermath of the tornadoes that swept through Western Massachusetts, it’s messy to look from afar. The destruction and sadness is there and leaves a dark mark of loss on the state. But if you look at the little things, you see state police and search teams helping people, you see hospitals setting up extra triage units to help the injured, and you see people grateful and relieved that the majority of things lost can be replaced or rebuilt, realizing, ‘hey, we’re still standing.’
It’s better to look at the little things because the big picture can be messy and overwhelming, and heartbreaking. But it’s in the little things where you find some solace and happiness in the small moments where the right play is made or communities helping one another to clean up and rebuild.
Yes, the Sox were swept, but it was bound to happen. In 162 games, they can’t be expected to win them all. And just because I can’t help it, the Bruins lost to Vancouver with 18.5 seconds left, that’s a hard loss. But, it’s the little things, the fact that Tim Thomas had 36 shots on and only one got in. The things like, another game will come, whether it’s Friday against the Athletics or Saturday’s game 2 against the Canucks. The losses could always be worse and the limited destruction of the tornadoes has given perspective to the games we love.
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.
Willie Stargell called the knuckleball a “butterfly with hiccups.” Last night the ball had movement more closely resembling a peregrine falcon, that is when it was moving in the opposite direction off the Royals’ bats, to the tune of more hits than they have had in five years.
“If a knuckleball flounders, it is proof somehow, that the craft
itself–just look at it–is unreliable,” wrote Ben McGrath in his
article “Project Knuckleball.” With respect to Wakefield, I will avoid
Instead, imagine if we sent out umpire Joe West to fight the Royals’ black-belt in residence, Kyle Farnsworth. I know some of us might pay for such a spectacle, even though it wouldn’t last too long. The momentum shift feels pretty much like that. Like Joe West’s face in the infield dirt. Perhaps I should refer to another image, in case some readers find that too violent. That’s easy. How about the aforementioned falcon picking up a slovenly pigeon.
The only regret I have watching the Celtics pound the Magic is missing Bill Hall pitching a 1-2-3 inning in relief.
In more optimistic realms, I hear this pitcher will be available by the end of June.
PS. On the Ipod right now, a la Professor Abraham: “Nadine” John Hammond. (This is outrageously synchronous, given the lyrics, “it seems that every time I catch you, you are up to something new.” That is Vmart singing himself to sleep last night.
The first time I saw the Sox play in Citizens Bank Park, in 2006, when it was easier to get tickets there, Josh Beckett hit a home run. Things just seem to go right when we play in Philly.(By the way, my dream World Series is Sox-Phils I asked Santa Claus last December. He never emailed me back.)
This time it couldn’t get any better. Dice K. Youk. Beltre. Wake, plus the happy return of Ells. It was all what we dreamed in the off-season. The questions about Wake’s potential are always relentlessly doubtful, but he is relentless in proving that he could pitch into his late 40’s as did Phil Neikro, knuckleballer of my youth.(I have to reread the New Yorker Article on Wake and the knuckleball,
“Project Knuckleball” by Ben McGrath from May 17, 2004.) Is the knuckleball better in warmer, humid weather? Something we may have learned in the post-Boone era.Ramon I bemoan Ramirez likes to makes us sweat, and I had fears that he would blow it as he did following Wake on July 3, 2009 against Seattle as I watched from a right field box.Professor Benjamin reported today that Sox starters posted a 1.66 ERA in the last turn through the rotation, allowing seven earned runs over 38 innings. Wow. A 1.66 ERA supports the philosophy of Run Preventionism, a movement we have seen in theory, not so much in practice. And there is that beautiful element called luck that gives us magical moments like Dice-K snaring Future Red Sox Star Werth’s liner.
Can it be any better? I ask in my joyful daze. No. Wait. Assign Ramon to Pawtucket.
Beating the Rays would make me dizzy.
Does anyone know if there is any software that blocks out the sound of cowbells?
Painting by Frank Tencza