Thursday, August 30, 2007

We do not let young pitchers near the Rocket in this house

8/28/07: Yankees 5, Red Sox 3
8/29/07: Yankees 4, Red Sox 3
8/30/07: Yankees 5, Red Sox 0

Okay, so that hurt. In a variety of ways.* We can analyze it to death (Dice-K and Beckett both pitching into the seventh when even we could see that it was a bad idea? Manny being broken? the Yankees discovering pitching and defense to supplement their crazy offense?), we can weep and scream and crawl under the covers until Thanksgiving, we can stick our fingers in our ears and pretend like the pennant race isn't going to be just that-- a race. Or we can face reality, recognize that the season isn't over--for either the Red Sox or the Yankees** or, hell, the St. Louis Cardinals, if only because everyone else in that division decided to start losing, too--and hope and pray and do all those crazy superstitious things we do that the Red Sox remember how to hit,*** how to run, how to pitch, how to field, how to play the game we all love.

Moving on. There's another game tomorrow. And the day after that. Play ball, guys.


*Can we just take this opportunity to please remind opposing pitchers to stop hitting Pedroia already? Let's not even get into the fact that Joba Chamberlain apparently got a standing ovation for trying--and failing, thank whatever deities you believe in--to bean Youk in the head. We say "apparently" because we were both at work today, and while this means that we were at least spared the horror of actually watching the game go down, it also means that we only know what we've read on the internet. Jennifer's Yankees-lovin' mother reports from behind enemy lines that Joba looked "really, really sorry and young" in his post-game press-conference and that she "felt bad for him because the umpires clearly overreacted." We report that we could really care less, and that this is your brain on Roger Clemens.

**And, seriously, thanks so much to all those people who said, "oh, the Red Sox have pretty much clinched it." Really. Because no way was that a jinx or anything.

***By "remember how to hit," what we actually mean is, "finally learn how to hit consistently."

Monday, August 27, 2007

We do not stain the game in this house

Idle questions for an idle day: What's the over/under on a bench-clearing brawl in the Beckett/Clemens game on Wednesday?

Will the brawl actually start before the game, when Beckett walks up to Clemens and says, "Dude, you were my idol when I was, like, nine," and Clemens replies, "Get off my lawn, punk"?

How many hit-by-pitches does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie-Pop?

Friday, August 24, 2007

We do not blame it on the rain in this house

Sorry we've been such terrible bloggers. As you can see, we've been out to lunch.*

08/24/07: White Sox 3, Red Sox 11; White Sox 1, Red Sox 10

Thanks to the rains on the plains, neither of us was able to watch the rain-delayed opening bout of the Hosiery Hostilities, only monitoring the scoreboards through the entirely unsurreptitious workplace use of CBS Sportsline's live scoreboard. This means that we didn't get to watch Jason Varitek's homer until the replay much later. Now, granted, we've watched it a half-dozen times apiece, with the added bonus that MLB's clip has the call by the entirely downtrodden White Sox announcers.** And it is spectacular. As were Papi's and Youk's blasts later on in the night, especially Youk, who may or may not actually have hit that ball with his spectacular slump-busting chin.***

Still, we feel deprived. Actually, we were kind of wondering whether Tek would catch Game 2 instead of Game 1, given that Kevin "Rules Everything Around Me" Cash was already slated for today's Wakefield start. We're sure the idea crossed the pitchers' minds, too...

BECKETT: Tek, you're catchin' my start, right?
SCHILLING: The hell he is.
BECKETT: The hell he ain't. I called dibs.
VARITEK: J.B., it's up to Tito. Also, you can't call dibs on me.
BECKETT: Don't worry, Tek, it's just a saying.
SCHILLING: He pointed at you across the field during spring training and said, "Mine."
BECKETT: So you admit I have dibs!
VARITEK: There are no dibs!
BECKETT: Listen, you and me, we've got a game plan. Curt can come up with his own game plan. He's smart like that. I'm dumb as a fuckin' rock. Everyone knows that.
SCHILLING: ...He makes a point.
VARITEK: It's up. to. Tito.
BECKETT: Hey, Tito! [points to Varitek] Mine!

And then they all lived happily ever after. Or at least for twelve hours that Ozzie Guillen will never get back.

Finally, since Mike Lowell mentioned the use of Google in the latest Friendly's Scoop w/Jonathan Papelbon, we feel compelled to leave him a note in case he does Google himself and somehow end up perusing our illustrious site.

Dear Mike Lowell,

You're definitely muy sexy, as you correctly pointed out to Cinco Ocho, and you don't need the Just-For-Men. And if you ever get tired of playing baseball, well, we think the sports world definitely needs the equivalent of the Daily Show--we respectfully submit that SportsSnarker Featuring Mike Lowell would be a high point in broadcast TV history, particularly if you retain one Cinco Ocho as a correspondent. Make it so, number 25!

Peace, love, and empathy,
The girls of Respect The Tek

*Yes, we each signed up for Red Sox Kid Nation under the flimsiest of false pretenses. Yes, we did it for Lunch: J. Papelbon (2). Though we might also use the ice cream coupons. Is that evil?

**As much as Don and Jerry can sometimes annoy, with their mascot fixation and their relentless plugging of Red Sox Nation (TM) paraphernalia, at least they muster up some nonpartisan baseball enthusiasm for great plays, regardless of who makes them. They're not ridiculous homers; they applaud the game as it happens, and nothing Jerry Remy has ever said, not even about "exploding chest hair" is as irksome as every third word out of Tim McCarver. Did we mention we're watching today's game on Fox, and they're using Coldplay as incidental music? Coldplay? In 2007?

***To be perfectly honest, we were happy about the wins, but positively giddy that both Varitek and Youkilis whipped out the offensive production. Victory is sweet, but when you see how hard they've been pushing themselves, and punishing themselves, and it finally pays off, seeing them smile is sweeter. Goatees and all.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

We do not sing "Happy Birthday" in this house*

08/17/07: Angels 7, Red Sox 5

Dear Dustin Pedroia,

People born on
August 17 are totally the best kind of people.** Rock on with your home run hitting self, and congratulations on making the varsity squad!

Jennifer, Respect the Tek

Dear Eric Gagné,

Why did you ruin Jennifer's and Dustin's birthdays?***

Okay, look, intellectually we realize that you did not lose last night's game all on your own. Plenty of people contributed. Julio Lugo gave up a run through the power of his seventy-gazillionth error**** of the season. The offense, with the obvious exception of that beautiful eighth inning rally, was anemic at best. Manny in the Dell gave up two runs in his inning of relief; without those runs, the three runs you handed out send us into extra innings rather than bitching our way out of the ballpark and planning ways to get you deported back to Canada. But, see, you're an easy scapegoat. You came into the game with a lead, and left with a loss, and we're sorry if it makes you want to cry over a nice helping of poutine, but we blame you.

We're not going to boo you (it reflects badly on all of us, the fans, not to mention the fact that we personally find it... tacky? rude to the other players on the field? annoying? all of the above?), and we're certainly not going to throw things at you, but we're not exactly going to feel comfortable seeing you trudge out to the mound with anything less than a 20-run cushion and three guys warming up behind you. Three guys minimum.

In conclusion, no, really, why did you ruin the Jimmy Fund's day? Did you not get the Lowell-Lester fuck cancer memo?

No Love,
The Girls of Respect the Tek

Dear Terry Francona,

Mike Timlin, Kyle Snyder, Julian "Batshit" Tavarez: three people we would've felt more comfortable seeing in the top of the ninth with a one-run lead. Hell, three people we would've preferred to see after Gagné gave up his first run and very obviously did not have his A (or B, or C, or even F) game. Send Beckett back out there, he'll close out his own fucking game. Send Wake, he'll do it. Hell, send Jim Flippin' Belushi out there with some water balloons, a pair of night-vision goggles, and a pack of Big League Chew. Just do not, we repeat, do not send out Eric Gagné.

Look, we know you like to give your players a chance. It's your thing. We get that. But there is a difference between giving a guy a shot and sending in someone who has, in his short time with the Red Sox going into last night's game, given up seven runs in three innings***** when the team has a one-run lead. It just does not make sense. There's trust, and then there's whatever this was, and whatever this was loses us ballgames. We hate to say it, but facts are facts, and Eric Gagné is a free agent at the end of the season and there is no excuse for you coddling him like this. And we get it: this was just the sort of situation for which Gagné was originally acquired, blah blah blah, adjustment period, rah rah he can do it. However--and, again, we don't mean to be crass here--he's floundering. He's not getting it done. It's mid-August, not spring training, and this is not the time to be campaigning for Happy Good Time Feel Good Camp counselor of the year.

The ejection was fun, though. Next time, try swinging a base over your head and then seeing how far you can toss it.

No Love,
The Girls of Respect the Tek

P.S. The answer last night, by the way, was Mike Timlin. We're, like, 102.4% sure about that one.******

Dear Kevin Youkilis,

Thank you for adding a little bit of extra pizazz to that devastating ninth inning, but, please, we beg of you, do not actually kill the umpires. And, yes, it was totally a foul tip.

The Girls of Respect the Tek

Dear Wily Mo Pena,

We wish you all the best with the Washington Nationals. May you get tons of playing time and learn to recognize breaking balls and develop into the kick-ass player Papi tells us you have the potential to be. It's not like the Nationals have a whole lot to lose by giving you a fair shake. Watch out for Dmitri Young!

The Girls of Respect the Tek

Dear Doug Mirabelli,

Get well soon.

Tim Wakefield and the Girls of Respect the Tek

Dear Captain Varitek,

You, sir,
are our hero.

Semper fidelis
The Girls of Respect the Tek

*Because we do not have the money to pay those pesky royalty fees.

**Jorge Posada would be the exception that proves the rule. Caroline, on the other hand, shares her birthday with Mary Lou Retton and Neil Diamond, and Respect the Tek greatly regrets this.

***Followed by seventy-gazillion and one.

****Slight exaggeration. We do not allow Eric Gagné
to dictate our fates in such a manner. Plus, there was still ice cream. And a win in the day game. And we may have acquired, under false-ish pretenses, Jonathan Papelbon lunchboxes.

*****Yes, yes, if you look at his record (and how we hate having to look at his record), he also pitched two scoreless innings during this period, but that is not the point.

******We had a feeling.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

We do not hit the road, Jack, in this house

We are not in denial.

We're not denying that the Sox played some alarmingly bad baseball during this road trip, including abysmal pitching, embarrassing defense, and incomprehensible bullpen management (you know who you are). But we're pretty sure every other Red Sox site in the world will handle that discussion for us. Just picture us participating in the collective forehead-slap, waving our "Impeach Gagné" signs, and chanting along with everyone else in the Nation, "The sky is falling!"

Instead of making ourselves feel even worse about the narrowing division lead, we thought we'd try and get our focus away from losing and flailing and failing. The scoreboard and the standings don't tell the whole story. Here's a countdown of the things that, win or lose, make us happy about Red Sox baseball in 2007.

5. Jonathan Papelbon: how is he real? He throws like a mofo, scares opposing batters, but off the field, he's an overgrown puppy dog, clamoring for attention and correcting Josh Beckett's grammar. He is the guy who can't handle losing at cribbage on the team plane. He's the guy who calls his manager a father figure and calls himself Cinco Ocho. Just when we start to think we might have made him up in our heads, we turn around and there he is, pumping his fist and calling Beckett a "mulligan."* Oh, Jonathan, we applaud you--clap your hands if you believe in closers!--and we hope you never change.

4. This team may not be quite as balls-out silly as the '04 squad, but they're damned entertaining in some surprising ways. For starters, even without some of the pure power-hitting we've come to expect, it's fun to watch them terrorize opponents with sheer plate discipline. It's especially fun when a struggling pitcher intentionally walks Varitek only to be tagged by Coco Crisp, or, even better, when said pitcher goes from struggling to completely baffled and walks in a run. We don't have numbers handy**, but we've seen this enough over the course of the year to learn to love it. Plus, it's definitely fun to yell, "Good eye!" from the cheap seats.

That's just one example of the unconventional ways this team's found to kick ass. How about Coco being Ichiro in centerfield? How about Josh Beckett cheering for Coco being Ichiro, and alternately venting his unutterable rage on innocent coolers, benches, and reporters that cross his path? How about Mike Timlin coming back and bringing new weapons--only figurative, we hope--to the bullpen, along with surprising strength from Okajima and Delcarmen? How about Dougie going deep? This team has survived injuries to its starting aces, and sub-Mendoza performances in the first half by key players. They've survived moose attacks. They've survived the continuing, soul-sucking presence of Dan Shaughnessy. They've survived cancer.

In a season where Bonds, A-Rod and Glavine made history***, Kerry Wood and Rick Ankiel staged comebacks that nobody ever thought would happen, and there are approximately 27 teams in the wild card races, the Red Sox remain the least boring team in baseball.

3. Our first, second, and third basemen. 3-4-5. The hot corners plus one. It's sort of shocking and awesome to think about how much of our team's offense has come from Youkilis, Lowell and Pedroia. All three are batting above .300 as of this writing; the lowest OPS in the bunch is Petey's more-than-respectable .840. They've also been defensive rock stars.**** Few things are sexier than Mikey flicking a ground ball over to Youk's waiting glove like they've rigged up their own private zip-line. Except possibly Pedroia leaping around like a Californian jumping bean and magically transforming a single into a double play.

There's also the small issue of their completely terrific personalities. We've seen 'em in the field, at the plate, and chilling with Tina Cervasio and/or Jonathan Papelbon; we feel like we know them, and to paraphrase Margaret Cho's memorable routine: There's the sweet one, the smart one...and then there's the Youk.

Watching these guys play for the season to date has been a treat. Here's hoping Theo "Yoko" Epstein doesn't break up the band next year.

2. Stumbles and all, the season so far really hasn't been bad. Remember that the Yankees were supposed to be leading the division all along? Remember that time our boys hit four home runs, back to back to back to back? Remember that we sent six guys to the All Star Game and have spent a good part of the summer debating which of our three Rookie Of The Year candidates is having the best season? Last season the Red Sox limped to third place in the AL East. This season, despite injuries and illnesses and an oddly grueling schedule and Julian "Batshit But Beloved" Tavarez as a starter through the All-Star Break, the Red Sox maintained a division lead all season (knock frantically on wood until your knuckles are as bruised as ours), a lead which is still the biggest in baseball.

No matter what happens with the rest of the season, whether we end up in a division race or a wild card race or even if we never win another game, we've gotten a much better ride than we expected. Definitely a much better ride than, say, Oakland fans (sorry, you three) have gotten after their team won the division last year. And it's true that some guys haven't produced at the level we might like, especially considering their salaries, but nobody on our team is Barry Zito.

Regardless of the eventual outcome (knock on splinters), we'd still take the 2007 Red Sox over the 2007 anybody-elses.

Sure, the Bronx may be burning again these days, but ladies and gentlemen, the Fens are still en fuego.

1. The Captain. We have one. He fought back from injuries for us. Behind the plate, he's a rock. Harvey Keitel would say he has a gun. His bat still has some pop left in it. He wears ice that beeps. All his pitchers are madly in love with him.

Nobody works harder. Nobody prepares better. Nobody has more binders.

One day he and Gabe Kapler will co-manage the Red Sox. And we will say, "We told you so!" But for the time being, we'll just watch Tek give everything he has to each pitch, watch him get spitting mad at himself when he strikes out on one of those high fastballs he can't resist, and listen to him demur the credit for one of his own home runs by praising the opposing pitcher. He's so completely committed to his team that it makes us proud to be on his side. We fully realize how embarrassed he'd be to hear us say this, but Jason Varitek could pretty much make baseball worthwhile all by his lonesome.

Forty-four games are left, just about a quarter of the regular season. It's too late to jump off the crazy train. Play ball, guys. We'll be with you.

*Papelbon is really, really obsessed with Josh Beckett. This can only lead to good things, like competitive awesome pitching, and possibly a home run derby. Or a wizards' duel.

**If you're joining our show already in progress, you might not realize this, but we virtually never have numbers handy. And we're writing this on the Internet, which is where numbers come from! But we did go to the trouble to look this one up: we have the second highest OBP in baseball, and have taken the most walks. Sing it with us: not too shabby!

***We don't want to give ourselves too much credit for reversing their karma, but--we guess you're welcome, guys. Please send checks and/or money orders to the home office.

****We're not excusing Mike Lowell's inexplicably numerous errors, but the 95% of the time when he isn't playing double-A defense, he's lights out. Big points to whoever took away his Just For Men.

Friday, August 3, 2007

We do not think, therefore we are not in this house

Scene: A drawing room in Second Empire style. A massive bronze bust of Babe Ruth stands on the mantelpiece.

BONDS: [enters, accompanied by A-ROD] So here we are.

A-ROD: Yeah. Waiting for history.

BONDS: Pass me that copy of Highlights?

A-ROD: Sure. I got Redbook.

[They read.]

BONDS: [laughing] Oh, Gallant. You so crazy.

GLAVINE: [enters, slamming the door.] This is ridiculous--they keep cancelling my appointment!

BONDS: Oh, crap, a paparazzi. [A-ROD hides his magazine.] Look, how many times do I have to say this? There are way worse killers in the world than steroids! Like Voldemort!

GLAVINE: I'm not a paparazzi.

A-ROD: Don't listen to him, Barry! I've seen him around New York! He's here to ruin our family lives!

GLAVINE: I play for the Mets.

A-ROD: The what now?

GLAVINE: I've been in the game for years. I was a World Series MVP. I pitched to you both this season, for Chrissakes. I even gave up a home run to Barry.

BONDS: Nope, not ringing a bell.

A-ROD: Anyway, how did a pitcher get into history's waiting room? Mr. Torre always says that pitching doesn't count.

GLAVINE: Right. Well, I've been going for my 300th win for about a month.

[BONDS and A-ROD exchange smirks.]

BONDS: 300? That is a tiny number, man.

GLAVINE: Oh, yeah? So is one. Which is exactly how many home runs you have not hit in your last thirty-something at-bats. [A-ROD snickers.] What are you laughing at, Slappy? You're not getting it done either. I haven't seen you swinging this badly since...well, October.

A-ROD: [flinging himself down on a chaise longue] Why is it so haaaard?

BONDS: I've been wondering about that, actually. It's so weird, but that one last roundtripper can seem harder than hitting the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds--

[GLAVINE pretends to vomit into a potted ficus.]

BONDS: --and hundreds and hundreds that came before.

GLAVINE: I hate to agree with you, but it does feel that way. It's kind of ironic.

A-ROD: It's like meeting the man of your dreams, and then meeting his beautiful wife.

BONDS: Why is that one home run--

GLAVINE: Two for you, actually.

BONDS: --So hard to come by?

A-ROD: It's not fair! What have I done to deserve this? Nothing! That's what! All I've ever done is play by the rules! Unlike some people.

BONDS: Hey, what the hell, man?

A-ROD: No offense, Barry. I mean, I am glad that your giant head got everyone in the game to stop hating me, but we all know--

BONDS: Oh, and you never did anything wrong? Listen, when your closet's clean, then come clean mine.

A-ROD: I don't know what you're talking about!

BONDS: Sure. And I thought that stuff was flaxseed oil!

GLAVINE: [pretending to cough] Cheater.

A-ROD: [turns pale] I will have you know that Derek is a valuable teammate of mine and nothing more!

GLAVINE: ...Actually, that was for Barry.

BONDS: Hey, man, I ain't even know Derek all that well.

GLAVINE: No, I--forget it. You know, maybe it is karma, though. We've all done things that didn't exactly help the game of baseball. We've all put money ahead of the sport--

A-ROD: Don't be ridiculous, Mr. Met. Pitchers don't get paid.

GLAVINE: [blinks] Roger Clemens?

A-ROD: He's not a pitcher, he's a Yankee!

GLAVINE: My point is, we've all done things that tarnish our public image. Me, I once cost the game a whole season and thousands of fans, and also killed the Montreal Expos. Although, really, it was more like putting them to sleep. Now, we've been lucky enough to keep playing and persevere to the point that all three of us are just about to reach these amazing milestones. Maybe it's a struggle because karma is kicking our asses until we remember that baseball has given us more than we could ever give back.

[Silence as all three contemplate this.]

GLAVINE: And also, my bullpen sucks.

BONDS: And bitches aren't throwing me anything over the plate.

A-ROD: And I lost my binky.

GLAVINE: Nuts to this existential stuff. I'm gonna go beat the snot out of Guillermo Mota.


BONDS: You mean we can just walk out of here? Sweet, I have someplace to be.

A-ROD: Yeah, don't you have a game tonight?

BONDS: Nah, fool, Sanford & Son is on.

[BONDS exits, then returns to take his copy of Highlights For Kids! Magazine. Exit BONDS, for good this time.]

A-ROD: [looking around the empty room.] You know, I've learned something today. When we focus only on the milestone numbers, we forget so many wonderful things about baseball. Like the loving support of our teammates. And making tons and tons of money. And elbowing people in the crotch at second base. The paparazzi can't take that away from me, no matter how hard they try!

[Exit A-ROD, pursued by a bear.]