Thanks for nothin', Jason Johnson . . .
. . . and five other semi-coherent thoughts from the first of five . . .
1) Well, that went about according to plan. Johnson pitched adequately enough for man who really doesn't belong on a big-league mound anymore, the Sox bullpen was predictably atrocious in his stead, and Chien-Ming Wang (who reminds me of D-Lowe without the issues; he's actually an underrated Yankee) weaseled his way out of trouble time and again. The Yankees had a tremendous pitching advantage in this game, and it would have been a true coup for the Sox to steal it. They didn't. We move on. Get 'em in Game 2. (Doesn't it freak you out when I'm all reasonable in the face of disaster? For the record, I was convinced a decent fire extinguisher would have limited the Hindenburg to minor smoke damage.)
2) Sure, his silly error opened the late-inning floodgates, but I have no problem reiterating this belief regarding Mike Lowell: With the bases loaded, two outs, and the Sox hanging on by a run in Game 7 of the World Series, there is no player in recent history I'd rather see have the ball hit his way . . . with the possible exception of the guy to his left, of course.
3) Got this email from a former Monitor colleague before Eric Hinske's three-double debut. I thought the deal was a shrewd one, but I didn't quite realize how useful Hinske might be until reading this:
I was amazed at the underwhelming response (regarding this trade) this morning. Doesn't anyone know that this guy's GOOD. Hinske's slugging and OPS numbers are both among the top 35 in the American League (200-plus at bats). The only Red Sox ahead of him are three fellows named Ortiz, Ramirez, and Wily Mo. And Hinske's power numbers are better than Abreu's, and Hinske has more homers than Abreu in 2006 -- in half the at bats!). And that's not even considering the fact that this guy kills Yankee pitchers not named Mussina. (Guess who now is the current Red Sox player with the best lifetime average against that skinny reliever who wears #42.) Since Hinske plays four positions, he can give he can give Youk, Lowell, Wily Mo, Coco (Wily Mo would move to center) and maybe even Manny a break once a week without hurting the offense. Thank you J.P. Ricciardi. (And thank you for picking up half the Hinske tab for 2007.)
One game in, gotta say I agree with every word.
4) Say what you will about the 'EEI radio hosts straining themselves to pat each other on the back, but no one can dispute the Jimmy Fund is the worthiest of causes, and so I will give Ordway and the rest a tip of the cap for all they do on this noble day. Even a black-hearted cynic like me finds his allergies acting up when hearing the stories of some of these uncommonly courageous children, and as a dad myself, it saddens me to even imagine the heartbreak these kids' parents must feel. Of course, it can be rather humorous to hear Joe and Jerry attempt to interview a child during his or her visit to the radio broadcast booth. Castiglione seems at a loss without being able to read the kid's career stats out of a media guide, while Trupiano never fails to remind me of Peter Graves in Airplane when the kid visits the cockpit: "So, Joey, do you like gladiator movies? . . . ever seen a grown man naked? . . . wouldn't you say Albert Pujols is ruggedly handsome, even chiseled? . . . "
5) You know it's a big game when NESN hauls Jack Welch out of his million-threadcount mothballs for the occasion. Oh, sure, he may look like the two grumpy coots in the balcony on the Muppets, but trust me and Tom Werner, inside that shriveled noggin, he's got the baseball insight of Gammons multiplied by the Eck. I mean, why else would NESN have him on? I'll say this much in seriousness: He's better be forking over at least a million bucks to the Jimmy Fund for the privilege of pretending he's a diehard/expert on a day like today.