Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hey, the post-Massacre Sox DID come back to tie the AL East in '78 . . .

. . . and five other semi-coherent thoughts that aren't so blindly optimistic . . .

1. Nine walks. Nine. I know the Yankees lineup is patient and disciplined, the scourge of any pitcher with the slightest hint of a command problem. Still, how in the hell does a major league pitcher - an accomplished, talented, 26-year-old major league pitcher at that - walk nine hitters in five-plus innings? How, Josh Beckett? How? How do you walk A-Rod - who's strangling the bat so hard these days the damn thing is turning purple - with the bases loaded in a 5-5 game? It's pathetic, inexplicable, and goddamn aggravating. And let me tell you, I'm getting really tired of Beckett's standup guy routine after his scheduled every-fifth-day shellacking these last few weeks; he's starting to remind me of Drew Bledsoe at his worst, when he always accepted fault and yet never seemed to do a damn thing to make sure it didn't happen again. I miss the glowering jerk who yelled at the mountain known as Ryan Howard in spring training and showed no fear; that pitcher took crap from no one. The Beckett I thought the Sox were getting would have brushed back anyone he felt was too comfortable or taking big hacks against his fastball. Where'd the cockiness go? Where'd everything go? Man, I was so convinced that Beckett-to-Boston was the perfect convergence of player and team; well, he somehow has 13 wins, and I can't remember three of them, they seem so long ago. And now he's out there walking nine guys in a must-win game, pulling a Matt Young, regressing further from start to start and pitch to pitch. I'm not giving up hope here - Beckett has too much going for him for this to be permanent. I'm just pissed, and I want to rant. I wouldn't mind if once in a while, he did too.

2. At 1:01 p.m., we're walloped with the requisite Babe-Bucky-Boone opening montage. At 1:09, the fawning interview with the Mary Kay of shortstops commences. At 1:13, the intrepid Jeanne Zelasko tells us it's "shocking" Jeter (most similar statistical comp: Ray Durham) has never won an MVP award. At 1:14, Kevin Kennedy adds a touch of sanity by saying Big Papi is the real MVP and should win . . . and then I remember Kevin Kennedy is wrong about everything not related to mustache grooming or Jose Canseco. At 1:15 p.m., I head to the refrigerator to concoct my new favorite drink, Gin and Drano. My, I do love me some Fox baseball coverage. And to think, the pregame was the highlight of the day.

3. Happy freakin' trails, Rudy Seanez, and hey, how about bringing your whack-job partner-in-arson Tavarez back to the NL with you? Thanks for nothin', and see you in three years, when the Sox inexplicably forget how useless you are on a decent team and bring back your 58-foot curveball and arrow-straight heater for a third time.

4. So how's it going to go with Schilling today? Well, hopefully he restores a little professional pride for this team and uses Pitch No. 1 to knock Johnny Damon on his ass, thereby setting off a catfight between Mrs. Curt and Mrs. Johnny worthy of a lucrative soft-core pay-per-view rematch. Sadly, though, I have a hunch that Schilling's start, like so many others of his recently, will unfold like this: The Sox will scratch out a run or two early and carry a slim lead into the sixth or seventh. Schilling, after looking toward the bullpen and noticing that Mike Timlin is completely engulfed in flames, will stay in the game even though he is clearly gassed after 120 pitches. And . . . thaaaaaa Yankees will find a way to tie it up. We all know what happens after that. Sorry for the pessimism, but I've seen this movie before.

5. On the bright side, Gammons was at Fenway today, and judging by his pregame chat with Joe and Jerry in which he referred to the Yankees as "some of the best people on the planet" and the Red Sox as "some of the best people in the game," he's well on his way to a full recovery. I just hope watching this hideous affront to Red Sox fans and aficionados of a well-played ballgame didn't cause a setback. In all seriousness, it truly was reassuring to hear him sound so well, and typically, he made a thoughtful point about the Red Sox: Everything that they expected to go right has gone wrong, and there's not a whole lot they can do about it at this point.

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