Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Beaches, Bets, Bars, and Bed Linens

Games 105 through 111 - Red Sox

Red Sox 6, Kansas City Royals 4
Red Sox 8, Royals 5
Red Sox 11, Royals 9
Twins 12, Red Sox 0
Twins 4, Red Sox 3
Red Sox 11, Twins 7
Red Sox 11, Rangers 6
Record: 64-47

Channeling Jimmy Buffett, badly, in honor of another successful venture to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with 19 of my closest friends. One of the greatest things about my annual pilgrimage to the beach is that the 19 closest friends part of that last sentence isn't an exaggeration. Idiots, all of us, but the fact that 20 guys can still muster up the the energy to spend the better part of 4 days staying up late, drinking cheap beer, recounting oft-told stories, and reconnecting is one of the great pleasures of my life.

Didn't see a ton of ball while struggling to recapture my youth, but the Sox did okay without me. 2 losses to the Twins stung slightly, but the fact that I found out about them reading the Sports section of The Virginian-Pilot on a porch overlooking the ocean dulled the pain to a near-imperceptible level.

Lots of new faces on the roster over the past few days, with Mike Remlinger joining Tony Graffanino and Roberto Petagine on the active roster. Kevin Youkilis rejoined the big club, and with Alex Cora, Chad Bradford and Gabe Kapler, the Sox have shuffled 28% of their active roster over the past month. Jose Cruz, Jr. was traded to the Dodgers after 12 at-bats in Boston. So long, Jose - say hi to DLowe and his wife. Oops.

With all that transition, the Sox are winning at a pretty good clip, going 10-2 over the past 12 games. All that gnashing of teeth for no real reason, apparently. They're mostly winning because they continue to mash the ever-lovin' snot out of the ball, but last night's win over the Rangers was sparked by one of the great all-around games I've ever seen.

Tony Graffanino (wearing no. 10 and making the Nation forget all about Dave McCarty) went 3-3 with a 3-run HR, 4 RBI, and 3 runs scored. He also scored from 2nd on an infield single by Johnny Damon - hustling all the way on the 2-out hit - and scored from 3rd on a wild pitch that didn't skitter very far away from the plate. He topped those outstanding baserunning efforts by saving Petagine's confused bacon on a popup along the fence in foul territory, sprinting headlong into the tarp to end a Ranger threat. If Derek Jeter'd made the same play, the YES Network would have it on continuous loop until Thanksgiving.

Graffanino's another in the well-documented Idiot mode - solid, scrappy, blue-collar - and has fit seamlessly into the Sox lineup. Enough so that Mark Bellhorn's return to the roster is more than a little questionable. I would not be surprised to see Eeyore head elsewhere before the month-end trade deadline. I'd be sad to see him go, if only because he represents a link to last season - though I wouldn't shed a tear if I never had to watch him swing over a low, inside breaking ball again.

Speaking of shedding tears (and of sublime segues), I sat down earlier this afternoon and re-read this blog's coverage of the 2004 postseason. I hadn't revisited that topic in several months, and I was surprised at how emotional I remain about those 3 weeks. Reading my own words again, I'm still struck by the thought that it doesn't seem real - they did it, they really did it, and I've got the words to prove it. Put that way, this season is really gravy, isn't it?

And Strat-o-matic is cursed. Un...freaking...believable. Though I know what happened to John McNamara now - and I still can't forgive him.

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