Sunday, June 26, 2005

Zen and the Art of Baseball Fandom

Games 66 through 74 - Red Sox

Red Sox 6, Pittsburgh Pirates 5
Pirates 2, Red Sox 0
Red Sox 8, Pirates 0
Red Sox 10, Cleveland Indians 9
Red Sox 9, Indians 2
Red Sox 5, Indians 4
Red Sox 8, Philadelphia Phillies 0
Red Sox 7, Phillies 1
Red Sox 12, Phillies 8
Record: 44-30

Wicked hot streaks have a way of making a body philosophical about baseball. The Sox blew a 7-run lead this afternoon to the Phillies, as Fat David Wells literally melted in the mid-afternoon heat. Were this 2 weeks ago, I probably would have broken something. Were this last season, I certainly would have been headed to Home Depot to replace the window through which I'd hurled the remote. Today, I muttered a mild expletive about Alan Embree (which my daughter repeated - I really am Father of the Year) and briefly changed the channel to watch a bunch of 17 year-old girls and Korean women play really crappy golf.

I also went for a bike ride shortly after the Sox gave away the entire lead, and in an eerie echo of the game that ushered in the Era of Positivity in 2003, the Sox rewarded my calm with a stirring win. Maybe I should re-examine the value of deep, cleansing breaths and mystical stoicism in all areas of my life.

I'm a bit apprehensive at resuming my blogging activities, what with the Sox having ripped off 8 wins in 9 games since I last tickled the ebonies (black keyboard - go with it). Coy and Vance did a great job filling in for me and Whit, and the Sox have taken advantage of my failure to clog the information superhighway with my usual lyrical cholesterol to rocket into first place. Thanks, by the way, to Whit's arch-nemeses in the dirty south for taking 3 from the finally earthbound Orioles to ease the Sox' transition into the division lead.

The way the Sox have been winning has been remarkable. Over the last 13 games, 12 of them wins, Sox starters have been 9-0 with a sub-2.00 ERA. It's almost not fair that the offense has averaged nearly 7.5 runs per game over that span - even with a shutout at the hands of the Pirates in the mix. Opponents are averaging less than 3 runs per game over the same stretch. The Sox have simply been dominant. They expect to win, they play like it, and the results speak for themselves. Manny's hit 8 homers in his last 10 games. (Random aside - Manny should only have 7 in his last 10, but Citizen's Bank Park in Philly is ludicrously tiny. Philly pitcher Brett Myers was caught on camera mouthing "How the fuck did that get out?" after Manny's routine fly to right drifted into the seats in right for his 19th career grand slam.) Tizzle is unpitchable at the moment. Even Eeyore blistered the ball this afternoon. Meanwhile, Matt Clement is 9-1, 3.33, Good Wake has resurfaced after a long hiatus, with 1 ER and 13 hits in his last 22 innings, Mike Timlin's been as good as any setup man in baseball with his 1.21 ERA as evidence, and Keith Foulke's only given up a run in 1 of his last 10 outings. At the moment - and that sound you hear is the vigorous knocking of wood - it's almost unfair. Add the news that Curt Schilling may be back by the All-Star break, and it's easy to understand why things are carefree in the Nation.

It's a simple game, baseball. You hit the ball, you throw the ball, you catch the ball. Right now, there's not another team in the world doing those things better than the Sox, and that's all the zen I need.

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