Friday, October 26, 2007

I asked of her what do we celebrate/She said these be the good old days

I launched this little website not long after the 2004 World Series, the impetus and inspiration being that it absolutely crushed me that I didn't have a forum to write about the Sox as they fulfilled our lifelong dreams as a fan. (I had left the Concord Monitor - and given up writing a column - to fulfill another dream, working at the Globe, in December, '03.) So it's ironic in an extremely aggravating way that, with the Sox back in the Series, I have this rewarding, interactive outlet to write about it, and scarcely a free minute to do it. Well, with the kids snoozing and me having my first real day off from work and other assorted duties in some time, let's get right to some of the things I've been meaning to say. (P.S. - My son has never seen the Sox win a World Series in his lifetime. Seriously, how terribly sad is that? Sure, the boy's 14 months old, and like his old man has sixth teeth and knows about a dozen words. Still . . . heartbreaking, no? )

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In their postseason careers, Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling are now a combined 17-4 with a 2.05 ERA. Yes, I think it's safe to presume Beckett is the heir to Schilling for the title of Best Postseason Pitcher of His Generation - astoundingly, he's allowed just 40 hits in 72.2 postseason innings in his career. That's Gibson/Koufax stuff right there. My wife, who pays casual attention to the Sox for the most part, asked me the other day if Beckett is a better pitcher than Pedro. Of course I said no, explaining in my sweetly condescending way that Pedro in his prime was the best pitcher me, my dad, my granddad, our kids, our cats, and any and all of our unborn children will ever see. . . but I have to admit, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I'd take Current Beckett over Vintage Pedro in a must-win playoff game. Probably not, but there was a time not so long ago when, posed with such a question by Mrs. TATB, I wouldn't have even considered it, instead rolling my eyes and telling her to go make me some waffles already. (Kidding. Kidding.) As for Schilling, unlike some certain other baseball writers, I've said all year that it would be a mistake to keep him around beyond this season. But after watching him do his John Burkett routine to great effect in the playoffs, and well aware that you can never have too much pitching, I'm open to the idea of bringing him back next year for $12-$13 million as the fourth starter, particularly if Tim Wakefield does not return. I'm beginning to the think the guy will be able to give you five quality innings in a playoff game when he's 45 years old and a few Nutty Bars north of 300 pounds.

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I am so freaking sick of those ridiculous, contrived stories about how Sox fans miss their angst. You know who misses the angst? Tweedy, eggheaded George Will wannabes who like to imagine themselves as The Thinking Man's Baseball Fan, yet lack the insight to come up with a compelling angle now that their contrived story arcs are three full years into their extinction. Them. They miss it. And they're the only ones. I mean, c'mon, do you think those of us who have true, lifelong affection for the Red Sox, who associate this baseball team with milestone moments and cherished people in our own lives, really miss the agony of painful defeat? Are you *%*#**# kidding me? I've mentioned this here before, but my wife says the most bummed out she's ever seen me was in the days after Game 7 of the '03 ALDS. I suppose that tells you I've led a pretty happy existence all in all . . . but I genuinely hated the Yankees then, especially after the Karim Garcia/Pedro/Clemens b.s. in Game 3, and after that hillbilly blockhead Grady Little ruined what I had considered to that point to be my most enjoyable season as a fan, I seriously contemplated why I wasted my time investing so much emotion in something that always let me down. If that wonderful, irreverent '03 team couldn't win, what Sox team would? Then came the vindicating joy of '04, which was tempered only - and ever so slightly - by those blinking morons who kept telling us, "Be careful what you wish for," as if our identity would be lost once all that Curse nonsense was rendered irrelevant. What's the matter with these people? Why do they cling to the misery? Don't they know any real Sox fans? All of my friends - not to mention the countless readers who email me here - are happy and grateful and appreciative regarding the current state of the Red Sox. We've waited a long, long time to feel like this, survived so many Zimmers and Kerrigans and Littles, and we appreciate having the faith that a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning of Game 2 will hold up, whereas five years ago we would have been waiting for the other cleat to drop. Hell, yes, these are the good old days. We know it, we love it, and you bet we're savoring it. That old sense of dread is long since dead. Why that is so hard for some people to grasp and comprehend . . . well, maybe they really should be asking themselves why they miss the misery. I'm guessing they wouldn't like the answer.

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If the Sox do return to Fenway for Games 6 and 7, I really hope Dr. Charles can convince Keith Foulke to return to Fenway and throw out the first pitch for one of the games. (Maybe the promise of a new truck would do the trick.) I'll always remain convinced that Foulke sacrificed the rest of his career by coming to the Sox' rescue night after grueling night in the '04 postseason, and it doesn't reflect well on a certain segment of Sox fans that the pitcher who was perhaps their real MVP of that championship run left Boston on bad terms. (That segment being the *%**#*$* segment, and I'm thinking specifically of that pathetic Bud-fueled imaginary tough guy who screamed at him from behind the Sox dugout after one of Foulke's rougher performances in his lost '05). I have a feeling Foulke would get a rousing ovation at Fenway this time around, especially if the appropriate highlights precede his appearance, and such a show of appreciation is long overdue. It never would have happened without him.

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Other stuff: Royce Clayton is this year's version of Ricky Gutierrez, though I don't remember Gutierrez having quite such a hankerin' for a taco in '04 . . . Go ahead, just you try to convince me that a Jon Lester victory in Game 4 wouldn't be preordained . . . Speaking of Lester, after getting a good look at Jeff Francis in Game 1, I'm pretty sure the Sox' kid lefty could win 15+ games in the National League. He has better stuff than the Colorado ace right now. All he has to do is learn how to trust it . . . Tim Wakefield sounded like a guy who had a serious decision to make, didn't he? . . . As frustrating as his first season in Boston has been, I never wanted the Sox to give J.D. Drew the Renteria Treatment in the offseason, and it's hard not to feel good for the guy as he's picked the perfect time to produce like a player of his ability should. Lugo, however, still stinks . . . Love to hear the real story why Clay Buchholz is back in Texas rather than with the team right now. Brandon Moss was allowed to hang around before he had to leave for winter ball a couple days ago, but the kid righty has been nowhere to be found . . . I've plugged his excellent work in this space before, but I feel the need to say it again: If you don't check out my former Concord Monitor teammate Dave D'Onofrio's blog, you're missing out. He's kicking some serious Asdrubal during the postseason . . . The pick? Let's put it this way: The next time we see the Sox in Boston, Papelbon will be doing some ridiculous spasm he calls a "dance" from atop a duck boat. They'll wrap it up in 5.

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As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:

Remember the April days when we cynically assumed Hideki Okajima was just here as Dice-K's concierge? Has any player ever exceeded our expectations more than the self-proclaimed Hero In The Dark? A old buddy of mine, a successful high school coach who is like Earl Weaver to my Maury Wills in terms of baseball knowledge, said at midseason that he thought Okajima was the Sox' real MVP. I'm not sure that held true for the rest of the season, but watching him mow through the Rockies during those crucial innings in Game 2, I shuddered to think where this ballclub would be without him. Okajeemer, as a certain broadcaster calls him, is one of the great finds in Sox history.


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