Saturday, July 28, 2001


I'm every bit as shocked after Saberhagen's dominance last night in his unlikely return as I as was when Nomo opened the season with a no-hitter.

Saberhagen retired 14 straight batters and carried a one-hitter into the 6th inning.

As a Red Sox fan, that it the kind of scenario you never even dare dream about, not even privately, not even in the deepest darkest part of your head where you store up all your personal secrets, your madness, your primitive proto-self, not anywhere would you think such thoughts of Red Sox success for fear of being found out and getting the jinx laid on you.

I admit I did believe he would come back and help the team at some point, but not this. No, only someone insane would have dared dream such dreams. I imagined Saberhagen would have a positive, but bumpy return, similar to Cone's.

Even last night, after he pitched a solid first and then the Red Sox game out and blasted 7 runs in the bottom half of the first, I kept expecting something horrible to happen. That the White Sox brought out roughed-up starter Kip Wells again in the 2nd was all the evidence I needed that they saw something, something that made them think they were still in the game despite a 7 run deficit.

This is a very special season. I'm grateful to be a part of it.

And it that isn't enough to feel good about, Everett is set to return today, and Nomar will be back tomorrow (!) or Tuesday. It doesn't get much better than this.

Friday, July 27, 2001

Lowe hears it from Fenway fans

For the 3rd time this season, I got back to back nationally televised Red Sox games here in Virginia. Fortunately, unlike Wednesday's game, this one had a more favorable outcome. That is not to say that anything went smoothly.

Derek Lowe, whose picture now accompanies the term let down in reference materials, just stunk the place up again last night. Lowe faced three batters in the 9th and they all got hits, loading the bases with no outs and the tying run coming to the plate. The boos at Fenway were very loud and anything but friendly.

As for the crowd reaction, Lowe responded

''There's tryout camps in every city. If they want to come pitch, they can try out and come out here and try it themselves. It's not that easy''(The Boston Globe).

I understand his need to lash back a bit, but that's a pretty weak response. As fans, it is our right to boo players who are not meeting our expectations. If you go to a concert and the band sucks, you boo. I wouldn't expect the band to say "Ah, it's not easy to play guitar on stage. Why don't you fans form your own rock band and see how tough it is." Gimme a break. A closer is paid to close the game out. Simple as that. If you can't close the game, oh well. Fans will be fans. I think most people have given Lowe the benefit of the doubt and have stuck with him through the first 100 games although his struggles have been constant since Opening Day. However, enough is enough. Even normally stoic Jimy Williams looked like he was going to strangle Lowe last night after the bases got loaded.

Boy, was I off base

Early last week I posted a diatribe concerning what I perceived as negative bias by the Boston Globe sportswriters toward the Red Sox' Spanish speaking players. Although Dan Shaughnessy was the author to the particular comment that raised my ire, I decided to send off a query to the Gordon Edes Mailbag (part of the Globe's @Bat Insider package), since Shaughnessy only participates in online chats, and I felt this would be too long winded for a chat post and response.

Gordon Edes, being the classy guy that he is, chose to respond to my letter and made me realize how off base I was:

Edward, Your question perhaps would be best put to Dan, since he's the one who made the statement. But since you asked me, I'm virtually certain that Dan was making a commentary on how long-winded Kerrigan can be, rather than taking a shot at Offerman's language ability. Kerrigan's penchant for exhaustive analysis is often a subject of joking in the pressbox, and I suspect this was another example. Dan couldn't imagine Offy possibly being able to relay everything Kerrigan was saying, not because his language skills aren't there � Offy has no problems in English � but because he would have been worn out by the time Kerrigan finished. I think I'm sensitive to such potential slights � my late wife, Yoli, was from Venezuela � so I would have to say that in this case, you're reading too much into it.

Point taken. I guess I never noticed how long Kerrigan's trips to the mound are. Boy, do I feel dumb. I apologize to The Boston Globe and to Dan Shaughnessy for casting aspersions.

Thursday, July 26, 2001

I will not panic ... I will not panic ... I will not panic ...

Last night's debacle was on ESPN2, so I was able to watch things unravel from the comfort of my own couch. Oh, boy. Now I see what Bill Simmons means when he refers to the Lowe face:

The Derek Lowe Face is ... anguished and tortured (imagine someone taking a dump and suddenly realizing that there's no toilet paper in the bathroom). And as soon as Lowe starts making that face, the umpires should halt the game and award it to whomever the Red Sox are playing. I have to admit, I'm haunted by The Derek Lowe Face.

And somehow I must have blocked-out that we had already started to trail the Yankees by more than a game. When I read this morning that last night's loss put the Red Sox a full 2.5 games behind New York, the largest gap of the season, I was shocked.

There are 62 games to go and lots can happen. What worries me, though, is that even if Nomar et al return in the coming weeks, we still have to hope for the Yankees to go on another slump as they did recently. Or, better yet, we have to beat the pants off them the next time the two clubs meet.

Since things have been going better than expected for the first 100 games of the season, I will not let myself panic.

Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Bill Simmons gets it right

While I've been stumbling through this blog for 100 games this season trying to express what it feels like to be a fan, Bill Simmons (formerly known as The Boston Sports Guy) gets at in a single column.

His most recent Page 2 piece at ESPN is a must read.

From his list of 10 Lessons Red Sox fans have learned this year:

3. The more foreign-born players on the roster, the merrier.
This ties in with the aforementioned "Curse," which isn't about Babe Ruth as much as it's about the kooky ways that Red Sox fans react to their team from day to day during the season. We're either wildly optimistic or hatefully pessimistic, with no middle ground; the local media alternately preys on our fears or stokes our optimism, with no middle ground. It's a rollercoaster ride.

As I've mentioned before in this space, all Red Sox fans are terrified that they will live an entire life -- 80-85 years, followed by death -- without seeing their baseball team win a World Series. Maybe that's why the pressure mounts in October, because every game literally feels like a do-or-die event in this area.

The point? American baseball players sense these issues, because they grew up here ...

Could that be one of the reasons why this year's team -- featuring a sizable collection of Asians, Dominicans and Latinos -- has seemed so unflappable? Might that make the crucial, push-us-over-the-top difference between the Pedro Era teams and the Yaz/Rice/Williams Era teams? ...

Thank you Mr. Simmons. That sums up about 60% of what I've been saying all year. And the other 9 reasons he presents are just as pithy.

Choked up

I've always been highly sentimental, so I guess it wasn't any surprise that this morning reading about the imminent return of Nomar Garciaparra and Bret Saberhagen that I quite literally got choked up with little tears of joy in my eyes.

On top of that, the Red Sox beat Toronto last night, Cone got yet another win, and even Derek Lowe had success.

I feel good. Really good. And like one in love with a femme fatale, I don't care if tomorrow or the next day my heart gets broken. Today everything is wonderful.

L'amour est un oiseau rebelle
que nul ne peut apprivoiser,
et c'est bien en vain qu'on l'appelle,
s'il lui convient de refuser.

Tuesday, July 24, 2001

The moment we've been waiting for

Fingers crossed as Nomar sees his first action in his rehab assignment with the Pawsox.

Garciaparra, who had surgery to repair a damaged tendon in his right wrist on April 2, learned yesterday that he will play at least four games with the Triple-A PawSox.

The Red Sox plan to re-evaluate his progress after the series. If all goes well, Garciaparra could be activated from the disabled list as early as this weekend, when Boston hosts the Chicago White Sox (The Boston Herald).

Meanwhile, we have one week until the July 31 trading deadline. Will the Red Sox make a deal?

If you haven't noticed, I'm not the sort of fan who imagines myself as a GM, spending hours on end speculating on whom should be acquired and traded and why. I keep an eye on things, but that's about it. Along the same lines, I don't have much interest in rotisserie league games. I'll take the real team and lineup that the GM and manager put on the field and deal with that. Some might argue that I'm missing out on a fascinating aspect of being a baseball fan, but, to me, it's just information overload. Besides, I tend to look at baseball more as a form of a morality play than a Strat-o-matic game.

Monday, July 23, 2001

La Nausee

You'll notice that I didn't post yesterday. After Saturday's drubbing, I just couldn't face it. Today, of course, isn't much easier:

How bad was it? The Red Sox allowed 25 base runners on 13 hits, 10 walks (two intentional), and 2 hit batsmen. They allowed seven stolen bases for the first time in 12 years. And the pitchers, starting with Tim Wakefield, were so woefully out of whack that they threw 188 pitches in the calamity and managed only 102 strikes (The Boston Globe).

I've got to admit that I'm starting to get very anxious with the way things are going. You've heard it before but it bears repeating: The only guarantee to the post season is to win the AL East. I don't want to hear any talk about the wildcard. First of all, I don't think a team from the AL East has much shot at the wildcard. More importantly, the wildcard is a lame way to do it. The Red Sox have done it that way since the wildcard was introduced, and I'm just plain sick of it. Let's win the division, the league pennant, and then . . .

Speaking of winning, it looks like Lance Armstrong is well on his way to winning his 3rd consecutive tour. I've been following Tour de France cycling since the Greg Lemond v Bernard Hinnault days (and I used to be heavily into racing in the amateur weekend road races known as The White Mountain Series). I mention it because Lemond and Armstrong are two sports successes that I've had. I mean I root for these guys and they win. But it doesn't feel all that exciting. I'm happy for about 3 minutes and then it's back to the humdrum. How does this compare to having one's team win the World Series? What if winning the World Series, from the fan's perspective, is just as unsatisfying? Will all these years of heartache mean nothing at all? Imagine if Sartre was a Red Sox fan ...