Tuesday, August 31, 2010

These are, in fact, your father's Red Sox*

Maybe next year? Is that what we're supposed to say after two painful losses to that irritating team down south?**

It's weird. We're pessimists by nature--the glass is always half-empty, and the water's always lukewarm with that funky chemical aftertaste--but we haven't quite lost hope this season. Maybe because it's, you know, not mathematically over. Maybe because we were there when the Mets screwed things up last year. And the year before that, etc., etc. And we watched from afar as the Colorado Rockies found Je--uhh--made their amazing run in 2007. We've got approximately a month of baseball left, and we're not about to start watching preseason football.

So it's time to give up on the tired "every season in which the Red Sox fail to make the postseason is, post hoc ergo procter hoc, a capital-F Failure" meme. If life in the big, bad AL East continues apace--hell, if the Matuszes and the Morrowses and the Wieterses and the Sniders of the world continue to improve, it could theoretically get even more competitive up here in the sports world's scariest division of all time***--we could see more seasons just like this. The same team won't be left playing golf in October every season, but when you have three or more legitimate World Series contenders in the same division, well...

Shit happens.

Look, between that glorious day when the Red Sox fielded their actual roster (oh, Opening Day, a time of joy and sunshine and hope) and the present, the Red Sox have lost their MVP-caliber first and second basemen, as well as 2/3 of their opening day outfield. They're down fifteen catchers and seventy-four Jonathan Van Everys. Hideki Okajima, Scott Atchison, Manny Delcarmen,**** and a motley cast of clowns have been allowed to pitch in actual games. Major league games, against other major league teams. The Red Sox are also on pace to win about 90 games.

Think about that, then get back to us about this being a lost season. A bridge year. Run prevention, ha ha ha.

Sure, the Red Sox face long odds against making the playoffs. We're not math people--liberal arts majors FTW!--but we're pretty sure the Red Sox need to win 79 of their remaining 31 games, while the Yankees and (Devil) Rays only have to tread water (literally: they're not even obligated to play out the remainder of their games, so they're all getting into the hot tub). But that doesn't we should consider the season a waste, or stop watching and rooting for our team. There's a difference, we think, between facing up to the odds and the reality behind them--the Sox lost too many games to bottom-dweller teams, and lost too many players to supremely freakish injuries--and giving up, full-stop, on the season.

This is a good team. One of the best in baseball. There's lots of fun left to be had.

  1. Take bets on how many more head taps, exactly, it'll take for Adrian Beltre to really go medieval on Victor Martinez. For a team that has "no star power" he's mighty fun to watch: from the defense to those one-kneed proposal home runs he's fond of hitting. The dude may not have a Beard of Truth or Dreads of Destruction, but otherwise he's definitely our idea of star power: great baseball skills, fun personality, and a sideline in wacky brotherly dugout hijinks. We're bummed that he'll likely be playing for a West Coast team next year.
  2. Dance to the beat of "The Kids Are All Right." Ryan Kalish, Felix Doubront, and whoever ends up on the roster next. We're hoping for a Josh Reddick sighting as early as tomorrow. Now we have all of September to give all the rooks crazy new nicknames. Can we do better than Yamaico "Me Feel So Young" Navarro? The answer is yes. We hope.
  3. Clap if you believe in Jed Lowrie. C'mon, you were starting to think that he was just a figment of our collective imaginations, too.
  4. Write that Made for TV movie you've been talking about writing lo these many years. Base it on the lives and careers of Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava. Shop it around only to have execs tell you it's too farfetched to be believable and that maybe you should head over to Disney with this one.
  5. Invent a sandwich in Terry Francona's honor. No, wait, that's a bad idea--it would probably involve ham that had been left out too long. And by ham, we mean starting pitchers. (We kid, Tito, we kid. But we have wondered if Leo DiCaprio inceptioned you into believing you manage in the National League.)

The Red Sox are still mathematically in things, and if this season has reinforced any of the many lessons we've learned in our time as baseball fans it's that sometimes? Athletes get hurt. Ballplayers underperform. Pitchers throw meatballs right down the middle of the plate, and batters swing through a pitch that's sitting right there in their sweetspot. Baseball is unpredictable. As Kevin Garnett would yell, eyes bugging out of his head, "anything is possible."

In the meantime, why not relax with a nice cold beverage and enjoy what's left of the Red Sox season? Maybe it'll end on October 2. Maybe they'll make one of those miracle runs we'll all talk about for years to come. Either way, it's baseball. And we like baseball.

*And your father didn't whine about it on Twitter, so suck it up, punk!

**Our plan: if the Rays can't scam the city into building them a new park, they should relocate. To Montreal.

**The obligatory "in any other division" disclaimer: in any other division, they'd be no further out than 2 games (and, it could be posited, based on their record vs., say, the NL West, that they'd have more wins and ergo be in first place in that division, blah blah blah conjecture-cakes). But, of course, they're not in any other division. We're not going to go all George Steinbrenner on you and start railing against a tough division our team, in part, helped create, but the facts are facts. The Yankees and Rays are both projected to win close to 100 games. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap. (But not to the Orioles, not anytime soon.)

***Bye, Manny in the Del! We'll probably miss the idea of you--you're from Boston!--more than actual you--you can't throw strikes and give up too many home runs!--but you were a part of a championship season and no one will ever be able to take that away from you. Or us. Maybe now you'll be able to put "Blame it on the Rain" behind you and live up to your potential.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

We're not here to talk nonsense to Bob Loblaw

Sometimes, Twitter lets you follow dramatic news or intricate political stories as they break. Sometimes, you just get bored sportswriters during rain delays. Obviously, we prefer the latter.

And so it was that Joe Haggerty brought this to our attention:
It's time to think about how to store Red Sox players safely over the offseason.

Haggs suggests bubblewrap, a classic choice. We're sure that armed guards and giant cotton balls have also been considered. But by investing literally minutes of deep thought in this, we've come up with an even better plan: Comas.

Not just any comas, protective comas! You know, the kind that doctors on medical TV shows put patients into while they're busy with A) their romantic entanglements, B) their daddy issues, or C) their thoroughly unbelievable hair? Well, we're not sure they're real, but then we never thought Adrian Beltre could break a man's bones with an I-Dream-of-Jeannie-esque blink. And with Dustin "I'm Not A Midget, I Just Play One On TV" Pedroia back in the boot, well, it's time for a surreal conclusion to a surreal season.

Of course, once we came up with this idea, our minds went immediately to Dr. Gregory House, MD. TV's least ethical doctor is an excellent candidate for practicing nonconsensual sports medicine. Just picture House administering a "routine check-up" to one player at a time, slipping 'em a "B-12 shot"* and then tucking them in for a long winter's nap. Sure, some players might put up more of a fight than others--

PAPELBON: I can't be in no coma, man, I got ducks to shoot!
HOUSE: Hold still, I'm pretty sure you have vasculitis!
PAPELBON: Get that needle away from my booty!

[Cue chase scene set to the tune of Yackety Sax]

--But in the end, we think Theo Epstein would agree: nobody puts patients in comas like House, and comas are definitely the way to go. That way, nobody strains a muscle in the winter while golfing or inhaling a pumpkin pie. Everyone will show up healthy to spring training!

And if anyone sues for malpractice, our lawyer, Bob Loblaw, is on retainer. And he's got a blog, so he must be smart.

*Not one of Roger Clemens's B-12s, and we swear that's all we have to say on that subject.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Limping off the DL.

SCOREBOARD: "Last year, JD Drew ranked fourth out of all AL outfielders with a .911 OPS"

GUY BEHIND US: "Does anyone even know what OPS is?"
GUY: "RIght, so what is it?"
GUY: "OPS, dude, it says OPS."
FRIEND: "Well, it's OBS."
GUY: "Fine, OBS, OPS, whatever. But what does it mean? You claim you know, so tell me."
FRIEND: "OBS means...on-base percentage."
GUY: "Is 900 good?"

US, REFRAINING FROM TURNING AROUND AND SAYING THIS TO THESE FINE GENTLEMEN, AND INSTEAD JUST LAUGHING BETWEEN OURSELVES: "Nah, man, a 900 OBS is just walking and clogging up the basepaths. Everyone knows JD Drew's a baseclogging jerk who doesn't care about baseball. Now, 900 RBI and a dirty cap, on the other hand..."

Last night, we went to a baseball game. It'd been a while--Futures at Fenway was our last attempt, and the skies opened and poured down on us and, lo, we were soaked to the bone and the poor kids from Salem had to take a long busride back home without playing a single inning on the hallowed grounds--and we were getting antsy. But things worked out in our favor, and by 5:00 we were pre-gaming at McGreevey's.* A couple of really weak drinks and an inning or two of the LLWS, and we were on our way.

We're not going to get into an intensive play-by-play here--either you watched the game, or you didn't, and there are plenty of places on the internet to get that kind of information--but we figured, hey, what better way to get off the DL and into the game than by talking about a game we actually attended? Much better than bitching about Sullivan's Tire commercials.

And, while we're profoundly not thrilled about the injury parade,** how cool is it to see kids we know from Sea Dogs and Spinners teams past playing for the big team? How awesome is it to look up and see Ryan Kalish on second base or Yamaico Navarro fielding a grounder? We admit it. We cheered for those guys harder than we cheered for almost anyone else. The kids, y'all. They're kind of all right.

Even Daisuke Matsusaka impressed us. Maybe we were still slightly tipsy, but he seems to be working faster and more authoritatively. Sure, he had that one inning where it seemed like everything was hit hard, but for most of the game he kept a really good hitting team off balance and off the basepaths. We approve of this guy. This guy didn't drive us back to the bar once.

Of course, this being our 2010 Red Sox, things weren't easy. As we all know, the game ended up tied through nine, and we had ourselves a little bonus baseball. We dashed to the ladies' after the home nine failed to score in the tenth, then set up in standing room behind home plate for the eleventh. (Papelbon works slowly enough that we really only missed one batter. True story.) A nearby usher started talking about the fact that he really thought Bard should've stayed in for another inning. Another guy looked like he was about to throw up. Someone in another section started the wave.

The wave. Top of the eleventh. Heart of the order up and a closer who had imploded the last time he faced this very opponent on the mound. What better time to stand up and down and lift your hands in the air like you just don't care? Not like there's anything happening in the game or--

--Jed Lowrie drops a routine pop-up in foul territory, and everyone in our section moans and grabs their hearts--


As we stood there, pounding our chests and hoping we'd remember to breathe at some point, Papelbon struck John Buck out. And suddenly the air seemed more oxygenated. We were going to be okay.

Plus: "now that Lowrie kid can redeem himself," someone said. "He has to."


GUY: "But I thought he stole third."
FRIEND: "Nah, man, he had to go back because the batter swung. You can't steal a base if the batter swings the bat."

If there's one thing we enjoy, it's the film Overboard, starring Goldie Hawn and--

Okay, strike that, if there's one thing we enjoy, it's watching Red Sox players embrace each other at home plate. If there's two things we enjoy, it's walking out of Fenway Park singing.

Overboard would make the top five, though.

*Look, we'd seen Friday's game. We figured hard liquor might be key to our enjoyment of Saturday's game.

**We blame Gary Bettman. As every hockey fan out there knows, there's pretty much nothing out there that you can't blame him for. In this case, though, we even have a reason. Bettman brought us the Winter Classic, the Winter Classic brought the Bruins to Fenway, the Bruins brought their broken-itis to Fenway, and the Red Sox all fell down