Friday, October 19, 2007

Bee Gees

American League Championship Series – Game 5

Red Sox 7, Indians 1
Indians lead, 3-2

Is that post title too obvious? Yeah, I’ll give you that, but it sure beats the alternative. Since 1999, the Sox are 12-3 in postseason elimination games, so they’ve done their share of stayin’ alive. Now, like the Yankees and A’s before them, the Indians get to wonder why this freaking thing won’t die, already.

There was only one real story in this game, despite the best efforts of everyman’s favorite announcing tandem. Josh Beckett was Wolverine, the aloof alpha male badass, standing tall on the mound and dominating the Indians over 8 innings of 5-hit ball. After the Tribe squandered a 1st and 3rd, no-out opportunity in the first, scoring only a single run, Beckett brooked no opposition. At times, he almost looked bored by his superiority. Or maybe that was just the well-earned arrogance he carries to the mound when the leaves start to turn and the days grow short.

With Beckett unhittable after the first frame, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver vainly sought new material to keep things interesting. As if on cue, Manny Ramirez delivered in the top of the 3rd. With 2 outs and Papi on first (natch – he and Manny have reached base in 15 of their 16 plate appearances against C.C. Sabathia in the series EDIT - that's wrong, it was 15 of 16 in games started by Sabathia at the time he left Game 5, it's more like 11 for 12 against Sabathia specifically), Manny sent a high fly to deep right-center. The ball hit the uppermost portion of the wall and caromed back into play as Papi rounded the bases to score. Manny thought the ball was out, the umpires disagreed, and the replays were inconclusive. Either way, Manny never made it past first base, a combination of lack of hustle and thinking the ball was gone.

Let’s be clear. Manny jaked it. He should have been on second base. His Mannyness could certainly have cost the team a run (though it didn’t, as Mike Lowell flew out to end the inning). The Mighty MJD noted that the game proceeded, “with Manny Ramirez being a one-man roaming carnival act”. All of those things are true, and any rational Red Sox fan was ticked at Manny for being Manny at that particular moment. But to hear Buck and McCarver, you’d have been absolutely convinced that Manny sodomized a puppy in front of the national television audience. How ‘bout a little bit of perspective, fellahs?

Here’s a little bit of fuel for that perspective. In this ALCS, Manny, Papi, and Kevin Youkilis are 22-for-51 with 15 walks, 5 HR and 15 RBI, good for a .560/.822/1.383 line. The entire rest of the team has posted a .259/.322/.581. Without Manny and his partners in crime, the Sox have already gone home for the year and the Indians are waiting out the interminable delay before the World Series begins early in February. So I’m willing to cut him a bit of slack and hope that he keeps hitting balls hard enough to slack off on his tour around the bases.

The Manny subplot was only one part of a smorgasbord of random, irrelevant fun from Game 5. We had Beckett screaming at Kenny Lofton after the only truly loathsome Indian flew out left (I choose to believe he said, “Yeah, motherfucker!”. Please insert your guess here ___________) which led to both benches “clearing” while Beckett stood by with a bemused look on his face.

FOX led the coverage by dragging the notoriously reclusive Kevin Millar out of his Salinger-esque respite to reprise 2004’s ‘Cowboy Up’ mantra. Wonder how Orioles fans feel about that.

Then there was Dustin Pedroia getting riled up at the media, telling them that he’s not slumping and to leave him the fuck alone before backing up his words with 2 ringing hits and a walk.

And finally, Beckett put a nice bow on things by dropping a very intentional F-bomb in his postgame presser in response to a question about his ex-girlfriend’s rendition of the National Anthem. Said Josh, "I don't get paid to make those fucking decisions. She's a friend of mine. Thanks for flying one of my friends to the game so she can watch it for free."

Josh Beckett, ladies and gentlemen, savior of the season, raconteur, and all-around badass. See you on Saturday.

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