Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ass Ponys

Game 43 - Red Sox

Red Sox 6, Braves 3
Record: 30-13

I come here not to praise MLB's television packages, but to rub their noses in my not-quite potty-trained daughter's crap-filled underwear. I'm not a television executive, nor do I draw a paycheck from a professional sports league - it seems clear to me after years of experience that I'm way, way overqualified to serve in either capacity. This weekend's events, hard on the heels of MLB's DirectTV nose-thumbing at the most dedicated portion of its fan base, serve as an object lesson in the anti-consumer evils of a monopoly system.

I'm quite certain that lawyers, MLB execs, and television honchos could point out the valid and logical reasoning behind their byzantine shotgun marriage. I'm not here as a representative of valid logic - I'm here as a pissed off baseball fan who wonders why it's so goddamn hard to actually enjoy a product for which I've shelled out a reasonably large sum of money.

Friday's rain brought a Saturday twinbill, and gave me an opportunity to watch much of Matsuzaka's start, or so I thought. Silly me, I forgot that the complexities of moving a game to a different day resemble rocket surgery. As I turned first to NESN, then to Sports South only to find the damnable "Program Not Available In Your Area" blackscreen, my blood pressure rose measurably. I called Whit, saying, "I'm gonna need you to talk me off this ledge." Fortunately, the Sox' 13-3 victory and an opportunity to show my daughter how the ESPN Gamecast works served as a bit of a salve.

Then, yesterday, morning rains delayed the scheduled Sox/Braves start from 2:05 to 4:35. Worked out great for me, as I was busy until 3:30 or so. I was watching from my kitchen as I prepared dinner (tuna and grilled vegetables served in butter lettuce wraps - brilliant idea from a taste perspective, completely asinine when you factor in the need to explain to two children under the age of 6 how to eat lettuce wraps), when the NESN feed blacked out at the stroke of 6:00, victim of the ESPN Sunday Night blackout rules. I was frantic for a moment before realizing that TBS was carrying the game, and avoided the blackout for whatever clusterfuck of logic.

I understand rightsholder's claim on the post-7:30 period on Sunday, at least a little, but the Sox game was all but certain to end before that time, and frankly, Sox and Braves fans care a hell of a lot more about their game than they do Mets/Yankees. A smidgen of flexibility was all that was required to make baseball fans from Macon to Maine grateful to MLB. Why, again, would you punish your most ardent fans, those who've shelled out $175+ bucks to ensure that they get to watch all 162 games? If David Stern was alive, none of this would be happening.

Deep breathing, and moving on to the action on the field, my man Whitney sure seems prescient after predicting the Sox would tally 6 against Tim Hudson. I'd like to know how Dancing with the Stars turns out, Whit, if only to make sure that my wife stops watching that dreck two nights a week. Kason Gabbard, hippie for "not Devern Hansack", acquitted himself quite nicely over 5 innings, striking out 7 and keeping the Braves scoreless until Brendan Donnelly allowed 2 inherited runners to score. Javier Lopez cleaned up Donnelly's mess by getting Scott Thorman to hit into an inning-ending 3-6-1 twin-killing with the bases loaded.

Kevin Youkilis, the Greek/Jewish God of Hitting Baseballs in May, continues to sizzle, "blasting" a homer just inside the Pesky Pole to plate the Sox' 6th run. Youks has a 13-game hitting streak, and is 6th in the AL in OPS over the past 30 days with a 1.022 mark. Mike Lowell and David Ortiz are 5th and 7th, respectively, over the same span.

Jonathan Papelbon came in to pitch the 9th inning with a 4-run lead, and proved once again the adage that closers don't function optimally in non-save situations. Paps looked human, allowing a run on 3 hits and bringing the tying run to plate with 2 out. Fortunately, it was Andruw Jones, who offered one of the worst hitting performances I've seen, striking out swinging 5 times against Sox pitching yesterday. His ineffective waves against a hanging Papelbon curve and a Lalooshian fastball to end the game probably (hopefully?) took the Sox out of the running as potential free agent dance partners for Jones this offseason.

In semi-related news, I hate the Yankees, but it's hard not to feel sorry for them after losing yet another starter to injury. Hard, but possible.

Speaking of the Yankes, the Sox head to New York for three in the Bronx starting tonight. A combination of work-related dinner meetings and a scheduled softball game mean that I'll likely not watch much of any of them. At this point in the season, I'm up in the air about my feelings on that. The nail-biting is difficult when actually watching a Sox/Yanks game, but it's almost matched by the singularly sick feeling in the pit of your stomach waiting for the score to load on the computer or cross the ESPN Ticker. That concentrated moment of nauseous uncertainty is unique to the lunatic sports fan. I love it.

Headed to Myrtle Beach this holiday weekend to see my folks. The Braves' high-A affiliate is based on the Grand Strand, and Mom & Dad love them some Pelicans. They spent some time yesterday recounting all the ex-Pels on the Braves roster - I'm starting to wonder where their allegiances lie. We'll be taking in a Pelicans game on Sunday night - great little ballyard with terrific family amenities. I'll try to bring back souvenirs.


Whitney said...

Could you please bring me a foam #1 finger? I'm collecting them.

rob said...

will do