Friday, November 23, 2007

We do not remain lucid within our food coma in this house

We hope you're all having a lovely Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Mikey Lowell Contract Week of Joy. Our own celebratory plans were foiled by the MLB's lawyers and the folks at CafePress. Do any of you fine folks know a sneaky alternative where we could possibly get Manny Delcarmen's Bullpen Band T-shirts printed? Because the design's ready to rock, but apparently the name is taboo. Check with us if you have suggestions or questions. We want to make the magic happen!

Anyway, in lieu of jersey-knit gifts or deep hot stove analysis (we're getting a little scared of the "The Angels" Angels of Anaheim; is that just us?), we give you an excerpt from Robert B. Parker's novel Hundred-Dollar Baby, page 182 in the mass-market paperback:

"Is there anything you believe in?" I said.

"My wife," Belson said.

I nodded.

"Anything else?" I said.

"Maybe Jason Varitek."

He ate a third of his donut and drank some coffee.

"That's probably enough," I said.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

We do not know a hawk from a handsaw in this house

Old Business:

We've been easing our way into the offseason by downloading classic games from iTunes, and so far we've watched Game 6 of the 2003 World Series--we were too busy hating baseball and all its works and all its empty promises to properly appreciate the dominance of young Josh Beckett* at the time--and Roger Clemens' 1986 twenty-strikeout game. It's a lot of fun. For the record, Baby Beckett and Baby Rocket really do have extremely similar stances, Miguel Cabrera really was a svelte young thing, and the Mariners really did used to wear wide, gold-striped elastic belts. Next stop for our Tardis: 1965 and Sandy Koufax.

Also, we know we're behind, 'cause we haven't said anything since Mikey Lowell failed to sign on the dotted by the deadline.** It's hard to keep up with all the rumors and denials of rumors and noncommittal comments, even if we limit ourselves to Nick Cafardo's mad flailing as our main source of news. No rumor too random to bite your nails over, huh? And how come there's no news on Mike Timlin?

New Business:

Well, tonight Buster Olney claimed on SportsCenter that he expected Lowell to make a decision within 72 hours. So that'll make the weekend interesting, since nothing else is going in baseball news at all.

Oh, and we heard something about Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez? We heard that they're forming some kind of wacky Harlem Globetrotter exhibition team together, with a $300 million dollar payroll and George Mitchell as the GM? The Alcatraz Sharks, or something? Bright orange uniforms? Do we have that information right? It's not like ESPN is talking about it at all.

Rodriguez and Bonds have had their parallel storylines going all year, with these great Shakespearean overtones. They are men of great talent and power brought low by ego and greed; they're everywhere and yet they seem elusive, surrounded by myths and mockery.*** We should be fascinated. And we would be fascinated to find out what actually goes on in their heads, if they'd like to step to the corner of the stage and begin the monologue. But as long as they have agents and lawyers, that will never happen. And we just don't want to read, hear, or watch any more of Keith Law and Murray Chass and freakin' Charles Barkley pontificating about Barry's or Alex's issues. We're over it.

Unless there is going to be swordfighting, in which case we are there. With bells on.

*He shakes off Pudge Rodriguez like forty-seven times, to no apparent ill effect. Further evidence for our totally intangible case that Jason Varitek is magic.

**We support the Papel-blog's NDRaPRSFftEMRSoML effort and are definitely all for the emotionally motivated re-signing of Mike Lowell, but we could never be club members because we are not normally discerning, rational or pragmatic. Not like you couldn't tell.

***Also, we once read a scholarly analysis proving that King Lear could really rake.

Monday, November 12, 2007

We do not have to be 5'9" to ride in this house

Thank you, Baseball Writers Association, for doing the right thing by Dustin Pedroia. We really weren't looking forward to going around breaking all your kneecaps if you'd voted for Delmon Young. Though, with the holidays coming, we could've used the frequent flier miles.

Congratulations, Monsieur Le Destroya. We will try to talk more about your fantastic gameplay and less about how Papi could carry you around in his pocket like a kangaroo does a joey.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled obsessive refreshing of Extra Bases for even a glimmer of a Lowell update.

ETA: Cursed to First has a delightfully eloquent post about Pedroia's many splendors. And now to bed, and dream of four-year contracts.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

We do not rely on reality in this house

Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester are being put on Jonathan Papelbon's shoulder-strengthening program and likely will visit with Josh Beckett to see how he performs his routine. The Sox will have a minicamp after Thanksgiving to go over the strength program . . .
- The Boston Globe, 11/08/2007

When the Writers Guild of America went on strike, it initiated a sequence of events that will have a domino effect on America's viewing audiences . . . A long strike could alter the landscape of network television by dictating an even greater reliance on reality and game shows.
- The Baltimore Sun, 11/08/2007

Our motto here at the Herradura is: 'Hunt and Live Safely - Teach the Children'.
- Official website of Josh Beckett's ranch.

This is the most perfect, most stormiest perfect storm. Ever.

In fact, The Real World: Herradura Ranch will clearly be the finest program of fall sweeps. Particularly the very! special! Thanksgiving episode where Beckett and Buchholz help Papelbon learn the poignant life lesson that there is a difference between "moose" and "male deer." You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll even grow a little. You'll wonder who the hell invited Kevin Millar.

Other exciting programming options (call us, Les Moonves! We're not union!):

Extreme Home Wakeover:
Tim Wakefield shows up at the homes of folks in need, helps them rebuild, and teaches them the Zen of the knuckleball. Children cheer, parents weep, Jordan's Furniture gets a whole lotta product placement. Each week's episode features a bonus Doug Mirabelli segment: "Chicken Parm for the Soul."

America's Next Top Set-Up Man:
Papelbon: "There are five excellent pitchers standing before me, but I only hold four baseball cards in my hands. The pitcher whose name I don't call will have to return to the clubhouse, clean out his locker, and go immediately to the National League or Japan or somewhere. Of course you know about our prizes: a one-year contract with the Boston Red Sox, your own music video on NESN, and one free ride on Manny's pet unicorn. Now I'm going to introduce our judges: Dennis Eckersley, one of the world's first closers; John Farrell, noted pitching coach; and catching diva extraordinaire, Captain Jason Varitek."
Varitek: "...What the hell did you just say?"
Papelbon: "Okay. The first name I'm going to call is..."

The Amazing Race, Literally:
It's just Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis running across New England on foot and yelling trash talk at each other. That's it. You know you would watch!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

We do not go gently into that good offseason in this house

All week we've been recovering, trying to catch up on sleep and our day jobs and all the things we've just straight up neglected since postseason baseball began, lo, a month ago. Doesn't it seem like it took forever in a temporal sense, but also like there wasn't nearly enough baseball? Shouldn't Josh Beckett be warming up for something right now, and wouldn't we all brave the newly chilly weather to watch him throw one more game? Shouldn't Jason Varitek be strategizing with his binders while Mike Timlin strategizes with his parrot? Can't we play three more games and keep the World Series sweep at the same time?

No? The laws of physics, baseball, and Suffolk County prevent it? Damn. It's going to be a long cold winter. But we've got our love to keep us warm.*

And you know who we love right now? Yeah. Him. And everyone else.

How about two guys not on the World Series roster: Tim Wakefield and Julian Tavarez? Polar opposites, right? The journeyman and the elder statesman. The Red Bull-chugging rubber arm and the reliable starter with the crazy knuckleball. The guy who lets Manny pet him on the head and the guy who keeps Doug Mirabelli as a pet. In spite of their shaky moments, we wouldn't have had much of a season if these guys hadn't been regularly reliable and occasionally spectacular--think of Wake's slick eight-inning outing against Rockies 1.0, or Tavvy's gorgeous relief innings on September 12th. We're delighted the club's picked up the options on these two. Imagining the team without Wake breaks our heart. And Tavvy may just be trade bait, but if not, well, our two baby starters could probably use the backup.**

Speaking of baby starters, we really love Jon Lester right now. We hope he's kickin' back on a couch somewhere, working on his fantasy football team, enjoying the first days of a pain-free, laid-back, regular-guy offseason. He'll have fun shooting deer with Bucky and Becky, and do some running and some weights and whatever it is pitchers do to hone their control. And that's it. And that makes us every bit as happy as knowing he'll come back to a ring ceremony.

How great is it gonna be, when spring rolls around, to see the eight 2004 veterans doubling their bling and their fun? It'll only be topped when Pedroia struts up from the dugout. We loved that boy back in April when he was barely hitting his weight, and only that much because he's a midget. We used to call him the best Little League 2B ever, then JV, and finally a varsity letter man. Now, having proven that he's more talented than he is cute and gritty, our Petey will get a shiny new band of gold to symbolize his triumph. He'll immediately pick a fight with Youk about whose is bigger.

We love Bobby Kielty, too. It'll be good to see him back for the party, and sad that he won't be in a Sox uniform.

Do we really even need to note that we've been breaking into spontaneous "RE-sign LOW-ell" chants*** all week long? We didn't think so.

When we look back in a year or two, this Series, and this season, will seem like they went pretty smoothly--a first-place team for more than five months rolled to a dominant and decisive World Series victory, stalwart veterans and shiny rookies and all. But we watched more closely, and know better. We had Eric Gagne ruin our birthdays. We watched a weakened lineup**** play down the stretch in September while the Yankees were mashing the ball all over the boroughs. We endured three miserable games in Detroit after the All-Star Break and three in Toronto in September, lost to Texas and Baltimore and Tampa Bay, suffered scoring droughts, costly injuries, and a fatigued bullpen tossing batting practice to Cleveland in the 13th inning of Game Two. We should remember all those things. Remember the headaches--our own and Papelbon's--and the ulcers we developed every time Daisuke Bat-suzaka walked the bases loaded. We should remember that the honorable Rockies fought to within one run in three of the four World Series games, making for a little bit of old-fashioned New England pearl-clutching before the town's best Irish dancer slammed the door.

Why hold on to the stress and pain along with the love and glory? Because it all goes to prove the point: our team could make all those mistakes, from the front office to Manny throwing his helmet, and still post dominant numbers across the board. Our team didn't quit until the last out, didn't fear momentum shifts, didn't panic, and David Ortiz made sure they never forgot their bad motherfucker-hood. Don't lose sight of how close they came to falling apart--that's how strong they were, to face that down and lock in and succeed.

This year, they were just that good.

Thank you, Red Sox. Don't stay away too long. What will we do without you?*****

*And T-shirts. T-shirts to keep us warm AND express our love. Thanks for letting us know you're interested--you guys rock, and they will be here very soon.

**Kind of hard to believe that six months ago we were freaking out about Josh Beckett's "avulsion", no? And did they ever define that made-up word to our satisfaction?

***We hope that by this point, Theo is hearing those chants in his head even when it's silent. "Sky Cries Lowell." "I Dream of Mikey with the Crooked Brown Goatee."

****Seriously, we'll miss Eric Hinske but we won't miss seeing him at first base. Maybe he and his awesome tattoos will turn up on a TLC reality show.

*****Next on Respect the Tek, a conversation between Todd Helton and Peyton Manning:
"I know, right? Fuckin' Boston!"