Saturday, May 08, 2004

Unfinished Business

The sea of red sleeves, red jackets, and red sox that greeted Manny Ramirez and Jason Varitek after Manny high tailed it across home plate on V-Tek's hit for the game winning run in the bottom of the ninth was a victory celebration worthy of October.

And that makes sense because this is a continuation of the same positive, comeback vibe that grew stronger as each day of the '03 progressed. What happened in Game 7 of the ALCS was a momentary stall, a mere point of inflection in the parabolic curve rising toward infinity.

I can't truly express how happy, how fulfilled it makes me as fan to see the team taking games with Kansas City in early May this seriously. It's really all any fan can ask for. And to see the joy in the Red Sox faces, to see that little boy "hey, mom, did you see that?" grin on Manny's face as his team mates swarmed him, well, that is essence of why I'm a Red Sox fan.

Win or lose, my paramount desire is that the players care. None of this "It's just a loss" nonchalance, thank you very much.

Now, at the risk of incurring the wrath of many, I just want to make note of something I find curious. The player to whom I, rightly or wrongly, most attribute the laissez faire, "no big deal to lose one" attitude on is currently not only not playing but is not even hanging out with the team. Make of it what you will. It's most likely just another meaningless whacko fan observation.

Meanwhile, the antithesis of the "whatever" disposition, Curt the Hercules Schilling takes the mound today.

Have a happy Saturday.

Friday, May 07, 2004

"And we'll all float on alright"

So how did your positive visualization vibe go when Pedro's first pitch got crushed by Lawton over the center field wall? Did anyone crap in their pants?

Naw, you're too tough that. Everyone had their game faces on, right? Heh heh …

Meanwhile, and I don't know why this didn't occur to me sooner, but I've got a nomination for our positive vibe Red Sox theme song for 2004:" Float On" by Modest Mouse.

Have you heard it? You really have to hear it to get the whole happy vibe (And if you haven't downloaded iTunes yet, what are you waiting for? It is available for Windoze.), but check out the lyrics:

I backed my car into a cop car the other day
Well he just drove off sometimes life's ok
I ran my mouth off a bit too much oh what can i say
Well you just laughed it off it was all ok
And we'll all float on ok
And we'll all float on ok
And we'll all float on ok
And we'll all float on any way well

Fits in nicely with Manny's "Laugh On" tattoo, no?

Did you see that little dance Manny and Ortizzle did in the dugout after Damon (pinch running for Ortiz) made it 5-2 in the 8th? We need to freeze frame that and then replay it in our heads whenever we need a pick me up, whenever we need a realization that things are cool this year. These guys are giddy:

Manny Ramirez, holding court in the Red Sox clubhouse, broke away from a gaggle of reporters when Pedro Martinez arrived before the game wearing a fancy suit, designer shades, and a smile as broad as Lake Erie. Ramirez raucously praised the ace's pricey threads, then delivered a message playfully but bluntly.

"The weather is good," Ramirez told Martinez, his voice carrying to every corner of the clubhouse. "No excuses."
When Martinez smiled back, Ramirez declared, "The baby is ready tonight" (Hohler, Globe).

I don't want to over hype it, but I can't imagine better club chemistry at this point. It's that kind of joie de vivre that makes everyone relax, including the fans.

"The Sox are back!" Derek Lowe declared in the giddy aftermath.

"Way to go, Sox!" Mike Timlin hollered as the players packed for the late flight to Logan (Hohler).

Float on …

Thursday, May 06, 2004

"Cause I'm back on the track and I'm beatin the fox"

Last October this is what I wrote about David Ortiz:

Let's put it this way: If I were fabulously rich and eccentric dude with a peculiar fascination in wax figures of sport heroes (like there's another kind?), I'd commission the world's greatest sculptor of wax to create a life size wax figure of David Ortiz in medias res, frozen in that moment where his eyes tell us he's gone upper deck …

Now if you'll pardon my borrowing from myself and recycling previous blog entries (That's the start of the creative downward spiral, no? Can jumping the shark be very far away?), what I'm saying is it's time to recommission that wax figurine of the Ortizzle:

Ortiz, responding to public relations director Glenn Geffner's pregame prophesy that the Dominican basher would go deep twice, did just that, slugging a solo shot and a three-run blast to start the recovery.…

"I just figured out today that we only have played 27 games," Ortiz said. "Why do we have to panic? Sometimes we worry more than we need to" (Hohler, Globe).

You know what else? Even though Kim didn't have great stuff ("[Failing] to pitch a scoreless inning before he was ushered away with one out in the fourth."), I felt good watching him. And when Arroyo came in and settled things down in the fifth and sixth, suddenly the future seemed awfully bright.

As I approach my 40th birthday next week, it pains me a bit to say it, but our collective fortunes lie in Theo Epstein's ability to find the next young stud. We need the guy in his 20s with the potential to become the next Pedro Martinez far more than we need to overpay to keep the present day Pedro Martinez. Sucks to get old in many ways, but, barring a few outliers like Clemens, this is a young man's game.

With that said, I hope tonight the old man Martinez shows all the kids how you bring it. You better believe it.

Meanwhile, in the comments related to the news that I'll be again joining Fox Sports NE for the season, Evelyn asks,

As a Sox fan.....if you were asked to play for the Yankees, would you? I know, Fox isn't quite as bad as the Yankees, but....even as far as news goes, I prefer watching news that isn't biased.

OK. First a couple of points. Fox is a pretty large media empire and their divisions are quite distinct. That is, there is a huge difference between the news division, of which Evelyn and countless others abhor, and the sports division and the general entertainment division. On top of that, FSNE is only an affiliate so it's even further removed from O'Reilly et al.

Moreover, I'll go on record as saying I'm more or less in awe of Fox with regard to their TV programming. Off the top of my head these are some of my favorite shows over the past 10 years: The Simpsons, The X-Files, Ally McBeal Malcolm in the Middle, Boston Public (season 1 only), Cops (I shit you not, I love that show), Futurama, The Simple Life, The O.C ..... and I'm probably forgetting some but the point is all of those shows are produced by Fox.

I'm totally baffled by how anyone can view Fox as only part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy when they also produce The Simpsons, probably the most irreverent, sarcastic, ironic, culture jamming TV show ever. Or do all of you Fox haters think The Simpons is just a cover? Like the closeted gay guy who's married with children and a wife? (Reminds me Married With Children was yet another Fox program I enjoyed.)

With that said, I'm proud as hell to be associated with Fox, even in this tiny, clutching at straws little way, that my FSNE stint affords.

Now as for Yankees, no, I wouldn't work for them. Of course not. But while I'm thinking of it, let me also confess that while I love to have fun with the rivalry and the hate the Yankees stuff, I don't really buy into Lucchino's notion that somehow they are "evil." What the hell is evil with an owner who is so competitive that he wants more than anything to win at any cost and will spend his own money to do so?

If the Red Sox had had an owner more like George Steinbrenner rather than Tom and Jean KKK Yawkey over the years who knows how many World Series pennants would be hanging a hallowed Fenway. I'll take Steinbrenner's form of evil over racism any day of the week.

And as for Lucchino, I'll let author and baseball historian Glen Stout do the talking:

As much as MLB and ownership always bitch about player salaries, in the one area where ownership has TOTAL control over what they pay – in the front office -- the salaries have escalated right along with the player salaries. Larry Lucchino reportedly makes in the mid- seven figures annually, and many GMs are above the million mark. Why? I just don’t get it. Wouldn’t that money have been better spent on some players? I mean, for what the Red Sox pay Lucchino they could have closed the A-Rod deal. Who would you rather have?

So let's be careful about casting stones and/or living in glass houses.

Now back to the positive visualization …

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

5 In a Row? ¡No Problema!

Full fathom five (is where my offense lies?)
Jackson five.
The fifth element.
Cinco de Mayo. (What a coincidence! Hella good that. If 4000 Mexicans can defeat 8000 French soldiers, then surely the Red Sox can reverse their fortunes by yanking out 5 wins in a row, no? Oh, what's that you said? Right, right, those were French soldiers that Zaragosa and his army defeated. Talk about your losing streaks. What's the last war the French won? They are like, what, 0-fer-the last two centuries? OK. Enough of the Franco dissing and back to the de facto target: I'll be a lot more impressed by the Yankees when they actually defeat a team with a winning record. I'm just sayin'.)

Seriously, folks, I've got the good vibe back. Honestly, I didn't feel it yesterday, though I tried. And you can't fake it, or at least I can't. But today I feel like something tremendous is about to happen. The bats came alive last night and fell just short. That's a good sign.

As Manny says, "No problem, Papi."

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Initiate Coping Mechanism, Level 2

Last night I pulled out all my good luck moves. I put on my lucky Red Sox shirt (100% success thus far). I set up the iBook with MLB.TV in the exact same spot in the house. Tuned it at the exact same time as on nights when they'd won. Hell, I even subjected the wife and stepdaughter to a dinner of Italian sausage, peppers, and onions sandwiches.

And this is what I have to show for it:

They loaded the bases in the fourth with just one out, but Mark Bellhorn grounded into a double play to end the threat. In the sixth, with two outs and Daubach on third, Bellhorn grounded out to second base (Silverman, Herald).

Four losses in a row?!?! When's the last time that happened? Worse thing is, despite my attempts at positive visualization, my mind keeps getting clouded with thoughts of losing 5 in a row.

if man is 5
then the devil is 6
then god is 7
this monkey's gone to heaven*

I was doing OK, coping fine with 3 in a row, but this one last night really hurt. I tossed and turned all night. Woke up feeling like Sylvia Plath. You know all depressed and thinking about sticking my head in a gas oven.

Streets crack through in havoc-split ravines
As the doomstruck city crumbles block by block:
The hour is crowed in lunatic thirteens.*

I'm officially initiating my level 2 coping mechanism which means I'm going to shut out the rest of the baseball world. I'll only visit Red Sox blogs and sites until this horrific losing streak ends. Don't want to hear about Pujols or anyone else. Screw it. I'm hunkered down like a snapping turtle.

Speaking of snapping and Red Sox blogs, between Silva's pic of the dead mule at BDD and The Soxaholix going totally nuts this morning (caution: strong language), I almost feel like I have enough humor to get me through the day. If we can't laugh at ourselves and all that …

Monday, May 03, 2004

Don't Mess With Texas

Nick Cafardo writes this morning,

The schedule game we all play at the beginning of the season has thrown us for a loop. When we saw this three-game series in Texas, one word came to mind: Sweep. We were right. Just had the wrong team.

Ah, not exactly Nick. You need to refer to your notes, visit or spend more time lurking the fan message boards for threads like this one on SoSH: What is it about Texas and Boston? As the Sox fans point out there, Texas always seems to give Boston trouble. If anything, when we see the Rangers on the schedule we don't think "sweep" but rather "oh, crap."

And this past weekend was no different. Worse, one can't even blame the Texas heat for the wilting, as the temps in Arlington were pleasant both days.

Though, it's difficult to overlook the role weather did play over the past week:

Wakefield theorized the Sox were suffering from their grueling schedule, which required them to play a day-night doubleheader Thursday at Fenway before a late-night flight to Texas. Then they waited until nearly midnight Friday at The Ballpark before the game was postponed and folded into Saturday's twinighter (Hohler).

Combine that with the fact that Texas is a hot team at the moment and, well, there you have it.

A win tonight in Cleveland and everything will feel a whole lot better. (But the alternative is something I'm unwilling to consider this morning.)

In other news, it's official that I will be moving over to Fox Sports New England again this season. The move will be happening very soon, as in any day really. Details as I get them. Now I know last year this move led to an outcry among many of the regular readers. Some of you hate all things Fox. Some of you accused me of joining the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Others were kinder, suggesting I was just a run of the mill sell out. And nearly everyone, myself included, was disappointed over the difficulty in commenting on posts and the subsequent loss of the community aspect of the blog.

Regarding the latter I have good news: FSNE is open to the idea of allowing comments directly on posts. We are still working on the nitty gritty on this, but it looks like a green light. It's not that they were ever anti-comments, it's just that there are a whole lot of legal ramifications that are different for a big media company than for a typical blog.

As for the other complaints, well, I hear you and understand. But, at the risk of sounding like A-Rod or Pedro, I will confess that I do like getting a paycheck for doing this, not to mention the increased exposure I get at FSNE. It's really great for my ego, honestly. All things considered, the pros far outweigh the cons and it's an offer just too good to pass up.

With that said, feel free to give me a hard time over it. (I'll take down all your names and send them over to Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter to be added to the enemies list. The VRWC will not be stopped.)