Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The The

American League Championship Series - Games 3 & 4

Indians 4, Red Sox 2
Indians 7, Red Sox 3
Indians lead, 3-1

I'm trying, really trying to work up some righteous indignation, or some fire and brimstone rallying cry for this segment of the fanbase (Red and Denton at the sublime Surviving Grady have done a nice job on the latter), but my irritation is measured in thimbles and my outrage more embers than a conflagration.

And much like the aforementioned 2005 ALDS, it's the way the Sox have lost that's prompting this measured reaction. After Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees, my vim was vigorous as I sputtered out the following:
I simply am not smart enough, or talented enough to put adequate words to my utter disappointment with these Red Sox. It would be one thing if they'd played the Yankees close and lost heartbreakers because of bad luck or quirky bounces. But they have simply not deserved to win any of the first 3 games of the series. Stupid baserunning, indifferent fielding, and godawful pitching have overcome any spark provided by their prolific bats - and the fact that they've scored 16 runs in the series is the lone bright spot, despite it being 3 fewer than New York scored last fucking night. The Sox deserve to be swept, plain and simple. And that is just abjectly painful to admit.
But after 4 games of the 2007 ALCS, the story is a combination of the Indians and their solid play and the Sox' inordinately bad baseball luck, not the Sox' ineptitude, though that's been on display at times, too. Indians pitchers have induced 8 double plays in the series' 4 games, many of them at crucial junctures. The Tribe is scorching the ball with 2 outs and runners in scoring position, while the Sox are 3 for 22 in the same situations. Papi got hit randomly by a groundball. Kenny Lofton hit a killer 2-run homer. Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd shut the Sox down. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield didn't reciprocate. The Indians bullpen has stepped up, and the Sox' stepped in it. And the beat goes on.

It all combines to produce not gut-wrenching angst or steely resolve, but a wistful sense of what-the-fuck. It's baseball, man. Silly damn game.

And still, Josh Beckett gets the ball tomorrow night, Commander Kickass of the Fuck-Yeah Brigade, with nothing to lose and everything on the line. A win gets the series back to Boston, and the doubts start to creep into Tribe minds, and Kevin Millar makes a phone call to Mike Timlin, who reminds everyone that'll listen about Dave Roberts and Curtis Leskanic and Derek Lowe and Saturn Balls Arroyo and Billy Mueller and Orlando Cabrera and that long-haired dude who moved away, and then balls start to fall just beyond the reach of Indians' fielders and Manny Delcarmen rediscovers his mojo and Jonathan Papelbon stares down the heart of the Tribe order and Fenway gets that late-October guttural roar thing going - 35,000 throats hoarse and arms raised in unison and then...well, then you roll the balls out and let 'em play and see what happens.

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