Back on August 6th, under the same title, I offered six items to replace Youk’s thumb. Some were abstract, others clearly linked to the Red Sox success over the last months. I mean the chances for success. Last week, on the Baseball Reporters, Tony Massarotti told us that “this thing has been over for a long time.” In so many words, he added, If you thought the chances for the postseason were eclipsed by the Rays last week at Fenway, then you haven’t been paying attention. Well, I was still in the game, still thinking of miracles and long winning streaks a’ la Colorado. Yes, I was still dreaming but paying attention at the same time.
And, yes, I enjoyed it. When Ryan Kalish hit that grand slam, the room witnessed more fist-pumping and joyous dancing than it had seen in a while. Kalish delivered again yesterday, during a game few were watching as the football season began. This is just to say that Kalish has fulfilled his spot in the six-point plan. Papi has too. I can go on with the promises and disappointments of filling in for Youk and Pedroia. After all, the Sox seem loaded with young talent. In light of that, I can restate the obvious, losing Dustin and Youk is what finished us. So there it is: I’ve uttered the words of conclusion. of finality. But even in this wait-til-next-year postscript frame of mind, the sounds of cheering, not merely their echoes, remain.
It is the year of the pitcher in Major League Baseball. It is the year of the broken bone for the Red Sox.
Dustin’s cameo this week before returning to our new farm team,
otherwise known as the disabled list, followed by Lester’s beating the other night, I started to think a new curse was upon us. If we are lucky,
we are just living through it and it will pass like an erratic
hurricane. This all means I am starting to think about next year, even as I do my best to forcefully remain in this one. When Jed Lowrie smacked the game winner last night, it wasn’t so difficult to be here now, to stave off the images of spring training 2011 with healthy Kevins and healed Dustins.
In Springsteen’s song, Devils & Dust, he sings, “I got my finger on the trigger but I don’t know who to trust. . .I feel a dirty wind blowing, devils and dust.” What winds are blowing in Fenway?
Around here in Asbury Park, positive signs for the Sox kept popping up. A new neighbor with a Red Sox hat on his head, told me that his dog’s name was Bosox. On the way to the beach, I saw a New York plate “GOSOX.” Then the Rabbi, Yehuda Krinsky, in his Times Magazine interview said, “He’s(Mayor Bloomberg) a Bostonian, as am I. He betrayed me. He deserted the Red Sox.” This third sign tells me what I need I know.
right of the pesky pole notes:
Thomas’ Trolley will temporarily halt for a week as I travel to see my twin in California. Thanks for reading, as always.
I am eating crow.
And I am listening to the Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping Up To Boston.” It’s appropriate that this song was part of the soundtrack of the great movie,”The Departed.” The Departed? Is that our Red Sox lineup perchance? What else has departed after Sunday night’s game. One thing that I know hasn’t gone anywhere is the Yankees lineup and their excruciating ability to pull apart a pitcher, and a defense I might add, until the very same pitcher we thought was our ace has departed for the showers.
I am eating crow pie. Not that I bet any money. I only invited a colleague and friend, and huge lifelong Yankee fan, over for the game. As I am always saying, the rivalry brings out the best and worst in us. And yet, we need each other, right? I mean, imagine if we were playing in the NL Central. Would our blood boil against the Brewers? Even more, it gives a charming thrill to a Sunday night game in August. She’s always been a good sport and while my cable was out three years ago, she let me watch Game 7 of the ALCS, when the Yankees were on vacation already.I did have to survive some off color remarks but the victory more than sweetened those finely tuned insults.
So I didn’t “only” invite her over. I decorated several places of our viewing area with Red Sox gear and blankets I was dreaming of the end of the game, when I could play my Sox mini soundtrack. “Sweet Caroline,” “Dirty Water,” etc. . You know the drill. It was fun while it lasted, which wasn’t very long. All I can say now is that I was messing with forces and karma I ought to have left entirely alone.Mea culpa.
It wasn’t completely barbaric. I managed to find the Yankee Snoopy someone gave me as a joke, one for which I haven’t found a suitable reply. I am open to suggestions. So there I was, smiling, before the game, with my ice cream man hat, and with ample reading material on the table in front of us. It is some kind of divine joke, perhaps that on the cover of one issue of Red Sox magazine is Kevin Youkilis. By the end of the game, I starting dismantling the various shrines. And this morning, one of those smiles is gone, too, which was surgically removed by a doctor better known as 7 runs. We miss you, Dustin. We miss you, Youk.
I keep picturing Youk in this image. I can imagine a thumb with the Red Sox B on it and painted in full uniform fashion. I can imagine this because Youk bleeds the Sox more than any player on this team. His fingerprints have Sox logos interwoven, at a molecular level. If there is one guy we didn’t want to see go on the DL, he is the one. It’s hard to choose, if I had to, between Dustin and Youk. Thinking that they both have gone down for extended periods is downright heartbreaking. I want to pull my own thumb off and send it to Boston. That’s a gross image and a bit dramatic, but the frustration over injuries this year hasn’t stopped. It’s enough frustration to feel desperate enough to believe they can still make the playoffs. Somehow. Some way. Freedom is just another word for having nothing left to lose, right? Is that mixing metaphors? I do know I am not ready to say bye bye until the last out on October 3, or maybe beyond.
The lines from Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Texas Flood” are much more damning than the way we ought to feel right now. Three out of four hurts, but not bad enough to report that the” dark clouds are rollin in and man I’m standin out in the rain,” I saw SRV and Double Trouble once. It was a blistering two hour set, where the man never took his fingers off of his guitar. Inside the RPI Fieldhouse in Troy, New York, where the sound was passable, something in the high range of his guitar left my ears ringing for several days.
I was thinking that yesterday was double trouble, Lackey against Lee. There are those times that Lackey simply bears down, and I think he can do that as the season moves into August and the games increase in meaning. I know they are all meaningful now, but I am not ready to turn the season in until I see Beckett, Pedroia and Clay back on the field. As we all know, Lee is pitching for a team that plays in a park where his ERA is the highest of any other. He lost two games in row as a Ranger, but that is what our offense can do when it’s pressed, especially Youk. You may have noticed (or maybe not since there were no comments on the Top Ten List) that Youk didn’t make it on the top highlights of the first half. I will add the comeback and walk off hits to the list of the second half, if I have to. What I am hoping for is that there will be so many other important and wildly terrific moments in August & September, that this series will drift in a pleasant amnesia. Maybe the kind that gives us 7 wins out of the next ten.Those are my numbers.
I had to miss this afternoon’s game(still waiting for that potent phone) as I was driving to Virgina for 6 hours. Professor Abraham said that he hoped the Sox could keep last night’s mojo going. I listened to Mojo by Tom Petty several times, having the same hopes. Even with Cameron’s monster seat shot, another comeback was washed away. But the music of Petty and Vaughn can remind us that a few dark days can easily turn into clearer skies, where “baby, the sun shines every day.”
Down on the Farm:
Later in the week, I will catch the Salem Red Sox against the Lynchburg Hillcats I hope to have a few photos for 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.
I am a little distracted this morning. Game 7s have a unique magic. Or is it otherwise known as nerve dancing jitters flying around the room with an irritating buzz like tinkerbell ‘s evil twin? Is there some way that the electricity of Youkilis-Pedroia could be lent to the Celtics? Kobe leads the other team (mentioning them by name here is like saying Macbeth inside a theater . .doom ensues), but the game isn’t won by one player. Pretty obvious. When the Celtics bench played its best, there was no stopping them. The bench always wins. Could there be a louder charge at Fenway this season than Daniel Nava’s grand slam? Off the bench, around the bases and onto the top step for a curtain call.
But back to this morning. Back to the moment, even with the anticipation of game 7, we can linger in our faith.We can linger in Lesteration (see previous entries for a definition), even as Lester may have had a necessary shifting approach with more change-ups. We might celebrate Moyer’s effort against the Yankees.
One of the great pleasures of the game for me is knowing a hitter’s home run swing and the angle of his head as the ball leaves the bat, with the follow through that signals nothing else but a home run. As difficult as it is to know each tic of Youk’s stance, the long ball is beautifully apparent. For some reason it was hard not to think of the 4-homer sequence against the Yankees in 2007. Each shot over the monster was definitive. I don’t have to mention that Manny was in that quartet. Manny. Manny.
But back to the morning here in Asbury Park. The new issue of Poetry Magazine arrived and has a short essay by basketball coach John Wooden. (I won’t mention his team by name.) Clearly, as monthly publications go, the editors decided to publish this many months before he died. He writes about how he always used poetry when coaching his players. In the New York Times obituary, the writers( Frank Litsky and John Branch) say that Wooden was a “dignified, scholarly man who spoke with the precise language of the English teacher he once was.” In his pocket, he carried a note from his father, which offered a good dose of wisdom.
“Make each day a masterpiece” was one part. “Pray for guidance, and count and give thanks for your blessings every day,” is the last line.
Ok, Coach. It might not goes so well, but I’ll give it try.
Is 9:00 pm as far off as it looks? Never mind. THANK YOU KEVIN. BOTH OF YOU.