Tuesday, October 7, 2008

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.

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