Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Another bad sign?

Citgo sign on fire? Electrical problems, my ass. Put that blunt out.

ALDS GAME 4: The light's fading.

Yeah, that was a bad loss. Bad enough that the very dependable automated typewriter the Globe secretly replaced Dan Shaughnessy with after the 2004 season broke down:

"Fenway Park is already a morgue. Six feet under. So bad. So bad. So bad. So bad. So bad. So bad. So bad. So bad. @@)(#*)!)($_@#. Crush. Kill. Destroy."*

Tim Wakefield was chucking up lobs early and often, although Manny Delcarmen's return to shite form sealed the deal. But on the bright side, it was our best performance against Andy Sonnanstine yet! That'll come in handy when he comes back later in this series. Right?

(Checks pitching match-ups.)

Oh yeah. Right.

This is not 2007, in that this is not "Win one, go home for two." It's win one, pray that something resembling Josh Beckett shows up, then take your chances in Game 7.

It's bad. So bad. So not good. So bad. Tan mal.

*Quote slightly embellished. Could you tell?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ALDS GAME 3: Why do I smell burning?

Red of Surviving Grady has the optimism going today. I just don't feel like writing about what I saw, except to maybe say that if Paul Byrd was going to pitch like that if he came into Game 2 in the 5th inning (or even the 11th), I apologize sincerely to Terry Francona for doubting him. (And just wish we had David Aardsma on the roster instead of Dave Ross.)

Lester wasn't bad, just off. Just one awful inning.

Garza wasn't great, but no one hit. If shallow pop flies to center were home runs, David Ortiz would be having the greatest postseason ever.

It's 9:54 in the fucking morning and just talking about this makes me want a drink.

Are you ready to catch Wakefield fever? (Symptoms include a constant movement in the stomach/bowels similar to the movement on the knuckleball, sharp stabbing pains hit deep to left, and anal bleeding. Better call 1-800 54-GIANT.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

2008 ALCS Backwater Series, Part 1: A split's a split.

Having escaped the first of our possible two two-game backwater mini-series with a split, the result, from a straightforward perspective, is good. From an offensive perspective, even including "Big Game" James Shields' mastery (although, sorry, your nickname is taken), the corpse of Jason Varitek, and the decoy status of the Heavy-Set Patriarch, is good.

The pitching? Goes like this.

Surprisingly fucking awesome: Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Fucking awesome: The bullpen. (Javier Lopez's single pitch appearance being the only bullpen-related run, an inherited one at that.)

Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit:

While Game 1 featured Terry Francona pressing his luck with Daisuke Matsuzaka starting the 8th and getting away with it, Game 2 featured Francona perhaps still more pressing his luck, leaving Beckett in after a very long top of the 5th, having shown no signs of out-making in his previous 4 innings out there. Aside from a 2-seamer similar to good ol' zinger, the arsenal of Josh Beckett was not there. Bad location, not many appearances of the real curveball, 92 mph fastballs down the plate...I don't know what to say here.

I'm too busy listening to the game right now to go on too long, but here's your basic math in the 9=8 dumb math thing.

Very good Matsuzaka plus mediocre Beckett plus excellent Lester = Mediocre Matsuzaka plus excellent Beckett plus very little Lester.

In other words, this could all work out.

But it's 1-0 Tampa now off a walk, a dink hit, some bullshit ball Varitek let get past him that transformed the situation dramatically, and the wouldabeen double play ball that scored a run. And so I must be going.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Josh Beckett's a bad bad man.

Beckett will be back. His stuff was fine in Game 3 of the ALCS, now it's a matter of command.

Seriously, would you bet against this man? With all that cash, flames, and death around him?

Sox in 6.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Doc Morgan, Curt, and Nothing.

Cute, Doc. If Curt had had his surgery in January, he would have been available for the ALCS.


At which time, having not even pitched so much as a minor league rehab start, we would throw him into the heat of action, as surely as Steve Nebraska threw his famed 81-pitch perfecto in his first major league start, Game 1 of the World Series.

Of course.

Furthermore, Curt Schilling had no idea he was in poor health when he signed his easy $8 million in spite of comments he's made saying he "broke" his shoulder midway through last year and never fully recovered. None at all.

I believe that. (I also believe whoever on the Sox staff performed Curt's physical better be the trainer for a Cape Cod League team. Perhaps it was Dr. Craig Morgan?)

The bigger point here, doc, is that as my man Billy Preston put it, nothing for nothing leaves nothing. You gotta have something, if you wanna talk this shit.

A pitcher available just in time the American League Championship Series without any regular season starts is useful only to the most desperate of teams, usually the kind that don't make it that far.

And planning a player's season around his team making it to the ALCS is just stupid.

And attempting to get $8 million worth out of a pitcher in one, possibly two playoff series is genuinely impossible. The Red Sox needed some return on their value. They went for broke. It didn't work out. Surgery probably wouldn't have either.

Doc Morgan is proud of his work on Curt's shoulder, and that's great. He's so proud of his work that he's deeply disappointed Curt can't show it off in 2008; for that matter, he might not show it off in 2009. That's silly.

Schilling had it right the first time. And now, because he got it wrong the second time (Curt: "This city, this team. This is where we want to retire, raise our kids, and walk away.") we're fairly likely to see a dreadful half-season incarnation of the third time, probably not in Boston. The third time, in sports retirements, is rarely the charm.

Sometimes it's better to cut your losses than get booed off the stage. I'm clutching the cane just in case.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

ALDS Post-Script Letter

Dear John Lackey,

First of all, I feel your sadness. And so, I play this for you:

GROW THE FUCK UP. Are the Red Sox a better team than the Angels, definitively? No one can make such an assessment. Over these four games? Yes. Absolutely. No doubt.

Was it so tragic that "[Sunday] night they scored three runs on a pop fly that was called a hit, which was a joke." Depends. You know whose fault that was? YOUR TEAM. If any of them had at least made a move towards the ball and dropped it, they could have called it an error. Which would have been fair. And still scored three runs.

In other words, this comment constitutes throwing your defense under the bus. Which is your m.o. judging from the faces you made as Aybar let a Bay single go under his glove, and Figgins fucked up a throw to second. I bet your infield just loves playing behind you when you show them up.

What about how, "[Monday] night they scored on a broken-bat ground ball and a fly ball that anywhere else in America is an out, and he's fist-pumping on second base like he did something great." Well, there's two points here.

The broken-bat ground ball out: with runners on first-and-third, a ground ball out can score a run. That's baseball. I agree with you that it is unfair that it didn't score via blistering single delivered straight for your ear hole, John. That would have been more fair, scored a run, and left you bleeding. From your ear hole.

The "fly ball that anywhere else in America is an out." Well, let's see.

--In Citizens Bank Park, PNC Park, Yankee Stadium, and many other fairly small parks: It's an out. Out of the park. Dustin Pedroia was robbed of two bases and one RBI here, and the Red Sox were robbed of a 3-0 lead, by your logic. Cue the violin.

--In Williamsport, PA: A super homerun. Orange slices for everyone as they beat Curacao! (Hey, you said anywhere in America, John. I'm staying true to your word.

--In Anaheim: A double unless ol' man Anderson is playing deep. Maybe even so. He kinda clocked this one. And in Anaheim in August, it's a home run.

--Most importantly, in Boston, when hit on October 6, 2008: A motherfucking double. That's the park. It's been that way for 61 fucking years, when the Monster was built. You think it's unfair? Go cry with Bob Feller and Pat Darcy, since Fisk's home run wouldn't have been a fair ball in, um, Petco Park.

The game is the game is the game, and for hitting a solidly hit double unplayable in Fenway Park, Dustin Pedroia has the God-given right to pump his fist. Your team employs a dickhole who celebrates every save like he just won the Powerball. What are you talking about, John Lackey?

These are the grapes I am eating right now. They are sweet and delicious, let me tell you. But don't take my word for it. Keep believing they're sour. You dumb, self-centered, arrogant fuck.

Look forward to facing you in 2009,


ALDS Wrap-Up: Jon Lester is the new ace, Rally Monkey is the new dead, Anaheim Angels are the new Chicago Cubs.

Phew. I was jumping up and down when Jed Lowrie's hit went through, yes, but ultimately, were you celebrating this victory, or were you deeply, deeply relieved?

This wasn't exactly a "Eh, we can lose this one and get 'em the next game" situation, even if Buck Martinez thought this attitude was somehow responsible for a somewhat silent 3rd inning Fenway crowd. (Buck Martinez may have been a better manager than an announcer. I wish I was kidding.)

No, this was a, "We'd really better fucking win now, or we're taking our chances with our 3rd best starter, in Anaheim, having lost two heartbreakers in a row." This was Game 6 of the 1998 NBA finals, where the wounded Chicago Bulls wouldn't have even been able to suit up Scottie Pippen in Game 7. This was everything.

And wow, did it get harrowing. Game 3 was a huge factor in Game 4, because had Papelbon not pitched two innings, there is no way he wouldn't have come in with two on and two out in the 8th, for a four-out save. Instead, Torii Hunter came up big after Masterson crossed up Varitek on a wild pitch I still believe is officially a passed ball. Was Masterson bad last night? Er...kinda; I'd be more willing to give the benefit of the doubt had he not also almost put on the game-winning run with the leadoff double in the 9th. I still have faith in him all the same.

But let's focus on the positive.

Lester was magnificent. The shortest synopsis of this series I can give is: Lackey was very good, Lester was fucking brilliant.

Bay, as he put it himself, was better lucky than good on an end-of-the-bat double, but he was both lucky and good this series.

These shirts are stupid, but so is Papelbon, in just the right way.

We're going to miss Mike Lowell, but he was clearly a shadow of himself. As the two excellent plays Mark Kotsay made in Game 4 show (one a scramble forward that Youk wouldn't have had the speed to make, the other a classic over the shoulder catch), it might be a nice thing to have a center fielder playing first base. As for Youk, I've got no problem with a third baseman playing third base.

Relief pitchers dousing Boston police detective William Dunn. Why? Fuck the police.

Dustin, please, stop. You're hurting Daisuke.

John Henry is a pimp.

We may well have just beat the best team in either league this year, we may not have. It doesn't really matter now. Tampa Bay's legitimacy is unquestionable, as is the AL East's in 2008. They took one flag. Let's take the one that counts.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dear Red Sox,

Normally, I don't believe sports teams owe their fans anything, but I haven't been to any games at Fenway, so this is very different.

Beat the Angels. I want to see Game 5 of the ALCS in two weeks, goddamnit.

ALDS GAME 1: I guess these are the Angels after all.

Another year, another series with Anaheim, a very different set of expectations, the very same result. Substitute a dominant performance from Josh Beckett for a stellar, slowly-building sort of start from Jon Lester, take a 2-run home run from David Ortiz and make it a vital, game-changing 2-run homer by Jason Bay, and the results aren't too different.

2007: Sox win 4-0, Lackey loses.

2008: Sox win 4-1, Lackey loses, bitches on about it.

It was a taut game where Lester started very shakily, but really found his footing and an absolutely wicked, downright spiteful curveball, as the innings went on. Even the run was unearned.

Justin Masterson's appearance in the 8th wasn't as shaky as it seemed--there was one solid single, one bloop made an out by a diving catch by an apparently-October-loving Jacoby Ellsbury (3-5, 2B, RBI), and one bloop over Youkilis' head made an out by Vlad Guerrero's dumb-assedness. Or forgetfulness that he wasn't fucking with Jason Giambi, or any other throw-averse first baseman. He was fucking with a bad motherfucker third baseman. And so he was out by three country miles. Thanks, Vlad.

A few insurance runs made this one go down easily in the 9th, and now we can give ourselves a hand while not going and sucking each others' dicks just yet.

(Well, maybe, maybe not. The 45 King's 2 a.m. text ["GAY FOR LESTER"] was merely the most overtly homoerotic Sox love message I received. I replied, "Gay for Bay." It's a special time of year.)

But I love Matsuzaka as my house money pitcher much more than as a pitcher of need. The Angels are a good but deeply mortal team with 100 wins fattened largely on the least competitive division in baseball. This could be fun.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More good news.

Baseball Prospectus picks us. Far and away. Health don't fail us now.

Tick...Tick...(Checks watch, realizes it's actually ten hours to go.) Tick...

It's actually good I'm going to be out on an anniversary date rather than waiting for this game to start, because the wait is going to be awhile. Yet another reason why not winning the AL East hurts: 10 p.m. starts to start this series. Work productivity in New England from the hours of 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. is about to go dramatically down. Just what this economy needs.

A moment of silence for the Minnesota Twins; if there were justice, the head-to-head tiebreaker would determine home field for the 163rd game rather than a fucking coin flip, but then again, the Twins had a chance to get their own justice. Against the Royals. Thus, they had to enter the blackout. (Dumbest fan stunt ever, by the way. What could be more intimidating than a crowd...that doesn't appear to be there?! Worked wonders for the Georgia Bulldogs last Saturday too.)

The Twins are a young team with good pitching, and a likeable team too; I'm sorry to see them go even if I think they're the more likely unlikely run of the two AL Central teams. A Chicago-Chicago World Series isn't happening, but the mere possibility of it is a heavy one. My parents live in Chicago. I don't want them to be around when Chicago '68 II: Ozzie Strikes Back! starts.

I almost care about the NL playoffs this year. The Cubs could be somewhat real.



Maybe I don't. The Cubs are the 2004 Cardinals redux: good to go down in 5 in the World Series unless the White Sox make it.

I don't know what to expect tonight. Lackey gives up home runs by the bunch this year, so I think he'll give up two tonight; the outcome of the game hinges on if there are runners on when they are hit.

Let's go get it.

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