Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Game 69 - Red Sox

Red Sox 7, White Sox 4
Record: 40-29

John Burkett gave up doubles to the first 4 batters he faced in this game, spotting the ChiSox to a 3-0 lead. Just when the Nation's guttural roar for his head peaked, he then retired 18 straight batters, 9 on strikeouts, while Manny ripped a bomb to straightaway center to stake the Sox to a 5-3 lead they never relinquished. What a bizarre game, this baseball.

Manny Ramirez may be the most underappreciated athletic freak in all of professional sports. He's weird and quiet and shy, so he gets relatively little press. His game is quiet, too - no flash, no signature batting stance or highlight move. When he bats, his body is so balanced and smooth that he appears to be exerting very little effort, which leads some to question his hustle and desire. His homerun last night in the top of third was a perfect example. Bartolo Colon threw him curveball after curveball, and finally hung one over the outside portion of the plate. Manny waited, drove into the ball, and hit an absolute rocket to deepest centerfield. The thing is, though, that it didn't look like anything coming off his bat, because he just strode smoothly into it and finished in perfect balance. Then, he put his head down and slowly rounded the bases, no fuss, no flash, and no look-at-me theatrics.

Sox fans should carefully catalogue every trip Manny makes to the plate, because when he's gone from Boston, we'll look back and say that he was quite possibly the greatest right-handed hitter every to play in Fenway. I find myself taking him for granted, largely because he gets so little notice for a player of his ability. I think he likes it that way, but I hope that the fickle fans of Beantown recognize the gift they've been given before it's too late.

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