Friday, June 11, 2004

Snowball Effect

Somebody better tell the Dodgers to stop at Aubuchon's to pick up a couple of snow shovels for their series with the Red Sox:

"Tonight they got a chance to see how deep this lineup starts getting … all of a sudden it starts to become a hassle. That's the depth we bring. It's a snowball effect." — Kevin Millar

Easy to forget how just how sweet it is when Nomar connects and lines one off the wall. Considering his lackluster finish to last season combined with the injury this year, it feels like an eternity since we've last felt the splendor of a Garciaparra RBI. And that it occurred after an intentional walk to Manny? Oh, my word, "an Elysian more pure and bright than that of the Greeks."

I've been replaying the highlight of last night's double over and over and it still gives me the chill bumps.

Masacio's Expulsion from Paradise frescoBut, of course, taking a bite off the pomegranate of knowledge is a sure fire way to cut short one's time in paradise:

Schilling said last night that his ankle ailment has not worsened since it began four or five weeks ago, and both he and the Sox believe there is no threat of further injury. Said Schilling: "If it gets to the point where we're damaging something, then we'll re-evaluate" (Massarotti, Herald).

Ah, well, it wouldn't be Red Sox baseball if we didn't have to learn to make do with a little adversity.

Laugh on. Float on. Keep your Sox on.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Hunches a wet black rook

Has anything good ever come from a rain delay?

The Red Sox, of course, were already down 4 nil, when the tarps were dragged out, but sitting in the dugout for 2 hours 21 minutes sloshed away the hopes of a comeback from all but those fans with the most hardcore positive visualization abilities. And, too, it the rain cut short Nomar's return to play, hosing down all our little fantasies of a gargantuan blast from recently healed short stop.

Rain delays always remind me of rainy days in elementary school, second or third grade, and the need for "indoor recess." At first, it was fun. The first mid-morning recess would have you playing games at your desk, or gathering in little groups on the floor, drawing pictures on thick paper, or rolling a ball back and forth, sitting Indian style, devising some sort of ad hoc competitive game … by the lunch recess, with the rain still doing its cats and dogs thing, the indoor recess would begin to lose its sheen, you'd find yourself more and more drawn to looking out the window, gauging the sky with the best of your nine or ten years meteorological experience … by the afternoon recess, all hell breaks lose, kids bouncing of the walls, wetting themselves, desks falling over, teachers screaming in red faced admonishment but you don't care as inside your head a voice implores, "Get me out of here!" Remember?

Has anything good ever come from a rain delay? I wonder.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox drop to three and a half back of the Yankees …

On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain-
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident*

No, I do not expect a miracle or an accident, and this is what worries me: win a couple of games, lose a couple of games, meanwhile, the Yankees keep winning, the Red Sox drop a half a game back here, a half a game back there, and you awake one morning to the wet black rook of 6 or 7 or 8 games in back and we find ourselves in the unenviable but all to familiar circumstance of having to hope for a major Yankees slump in order to retake first place. And when's the last time you've seen the Yankees go into a death spiral in the summer?

I do not expect a miracle or an accident. But I can hope…

The wait's begun again,
The long wait for the angel,
For that rare, random descent.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Petey, Just What I Needed

I know the mental health professionals will advise against living vicariously through a baseball team, especially one as metaphorically bipolar as the our own Boston Red Sox, pegging your daily mood to the ups and downs of the team is a prescription for disaster.

Whatev. All I know is Pedro's performance last night couldn't have come at a better time for my psyche. A fired up Pedro brings out the best in me, brings out the red stocking in me …

In his finest outing of the season, Martinez blanked the Padres on two hits, a walk and a hit batsman over eight innings… (Hohler, Globe).

And Pedro seems to have his fastball back, hitting 94mph on the gun repeatedly.

I'm late getting to this connection between his recent sore wrist and the return of the hot stuff:

"It [wrist soreness] normally happens to me when I pick up velocity," Martinez said. "It's always been like that in my career. The harder I throw, the less command I happen to have. My velocity is coming back ... when I throw hard and I get stronger, the ball feels light, and you just throw it instead of getting the right rotation and getting the key release point to actually throw a good breaking ball" (Browne,

But last night wasn't just about Pedro, of course. Johnny Damon nails it: "That was definitely his best all-around game of the year" (Horrigan, Herald).

Man, was it ever.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

"So Make Yourself an Ark of Cypress …"

When it comes to the baseball draft, I've of the same mind as Dave Pinto when he writes,

"[it's]about a group of players I know little about, most of whom will not have an immediate impact on their teams. I'll wait to see who pans out, and let the other experts in the baseball world inform me on who did a good job" (Baseball Musings).

Still, I'm happy to that they picked a guy from Maine, Mark Rogers. As Marc Carig asks in the Globe, "Who gets drafted from Maine?" Even more interesting, Rogers is not a college player but a senior at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, Maine. I like to think it's a good omen to draft a guy from a school named after the mountain in Turkey where The Old Testament records that Noah's Ark came to rest after the great flood. Of course, it's also Yahweh from the Old Testament who seems to have it in for us.

(Update: Oops! That's what I get for skimming and trusting those damn drunken Soxaholix! Thanks to Brian for pointing out that the Sox had no first round pick and Rogers was picked by the Brewers. What a waste of my Noah's Ark bit.)

Also drafted by the Red Sox, a pitcher who has had a very good college career at the academical village just down the road from me:

[Andrew] Dobies became the first player from the UVa baseball program to be drafted in two years and was the highest selection since the Minnesota Twins took Greg Withelder in the third round of 1997’s draft.

"I am very thrilled. I kind of feel like I'm dreaming,” Dobies said. “I never thought this day would come but it is here and it is over with and I am very thrilled" (Daily Progress).

Now I'm kicking myself that I never mustered the energy to go see UVa play a game this year. Of course, that won't stop me, should the kid blossom into the next Roger Clemens, from saying, "Oh, yeah, I knew him back when he was at Virginia" just like the hundred thousand or so Sox fans who saw Clemens 20 strikeout game despite Fenway being a ghost town on that chilly April night.

Meanwhile, bring on the Padres:

"Boston fans are definitely tough, especially in the bullpen area," Embree said. "There are not a lot of places the Padres go where they'll get that. Even if you've never been there before, it's like they know everything about you. They have your stats down better than you do.

"Believe me, if you can find anything bad to say about Hoffy, they'll find it and they'll say it" (Jenkins, Union-Tribune).

Welcome to Boston!

Monday, June 07, 2004

Putting on my Beer Goggles

Have you ever been so thankful for the end of a road trip capped by two ugly wins? My expectations had become so muted toward the end of last week, that this is reason enough to break out the good booze:

After rolling up a 12.83 ERA and going 1-2 in his previous three outings, the sinkerballer showed the most encouraging signs in weeks that he may be close to regaining his winning touch as he rationed the Royals three runs (two earned) over five innings (Hohler, Globe).

And I was beginning to think I'd never ready these words: "Nomar Garciaparra is expected to be in the lineup tomorrow night" (Silverman).

Still, I'd be perfidious if sat here writing that everything is hunky dory. I feel like I've been watching a bit about average, second place type team, even with the two back to back wins. (I'm not blaming players or management; my lack of confidence has everything to do with the number of guys on the DL.)

Elsewhere, there's a new book out sounding the death knell for baseball, Michael Mandelbaum's The Meaning of Sports. From a Washington Post review:

Mandelbaum sees baseball as a pastoral game that rose to prominence in the 1920s when many city dwellers longed for the not-so-distant past of an agrarian world. In his view, it no longer owns the American imagination because it does not reflect the breakneck pace of modern society (Callahan).

I buy the pastoral nature of the game and the longing for the agrarian world that Mandelbaum puts forth, but I'm not at convinced that baseball not reflecting the breakneck pace of modern society is cause for alarm. If anything, I think consciously or unconsciously we still crave that pastoral world and, more importantly, baseball affords us the opportunity to exist outside of time, in a nether world that is, for those who give themselves over to the game, a respite from the go, go, go 24/7 culture we find ourselves in.

If you haven't caught it yet, HBO's documentary The Curse of the Bambino is now available on DVD for sale or for rent. I know it was overall panned by most fans, but considering that I'm (oh so briefly) in the film, I'm rather partial to it. And it did win two Emmys including Best Sports Documentary, so I'm not the only one who enjoyed it.

Speaking of documentaries, it's not too late to add your voice to an independent film focusing on Bill Spaceman Lee. Read the details here.

Oh, I should mention that I after seeing the HP3, I feel this is the best one yet. I just wish it would have been longer. The film actually clocks in as the shortest of the three, yet the third book was near twice the length of either the previous two.