Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Time of the Hero

Games 11 & 12 - Red Sox

Yankees 4, Red Sox 1

Red Sox 4, Yankees 3

Record: 6-6

Two games into the season series between the Sox and Yankees, baseball is the winner, if I may be so trite and all-too-premature. Two games, two man-sized pitching performances, a raft of drama, enough weirdness to keep the Baseball Poets gainfully engaged, and a tasty little setup for the first prime-time Sox/Yanks tilt of 2008.

Teejay's favorite Hebrew ballplayer, Chien-Ming Wang, brought his big-boy pants to the game on Friday night, absolutely stoning the Sox in a complete game 2-hitter. Hard to do anything but offer congratulations after a performance as good as Wang's. Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz was terrific, and he still threw more pitches in 6 innings than Wang fired at Sox batters for the game.

Yesterday, Josh Beckett matched Wang's mastery for 5 frames before visibly tiring and giving up 3 runs in 6 2/3. Beckett left with a 4-3 lead that remained intact until the top of the 8th, when things started going plaid. The Yanks put runners on first and second with 2 outs, and when Terry Francona summoned the barely-warm Jonathan Papelbon from the pen to face Alex Rodriguez, Fox baseball executives couldn't even bother to be embarrassed by their public turgidity.

And then the rains came. More than 2 hours elapsed before Papelbon finally threw his first pitch to the Yankee third baseman, enough time for the third-round leaders to play nearly the entire back 9 at the Masters, Fox to warm up its NASCAR coverage, the Bruins to fall behind the Canadiens, Papelbon to warm up and sit down twice, and me to cycle through a nice painkiller high.

In the series' second 'did you see that?' pitching performance, Papelbon dominated Rodriguez, blowing a fastball by the 2007 MVP to end the threat emphatically. The Sox' closer proceeded to strike out the first 2 Yankee hitters in the 9th before retiring Robinson Cano on a weak grounder to second to end the game. After, mind you, the FOX Sports team decided to switch over to the beginning of a 6-hour race while Papelbon was literally in the middle of a potential game-ending pitch. A POX on your houses.

Paps is likely out for tonight's game, and so may be David Ortiz, mired as he is in the midst of a 3-for-43 season opening drought. As Papi goes, so too goes my early-season fandom. I'm struggling to get a firm grip, a combination of personal issues, professional priorities, fractured scheduling, and other sports-related distractions pushing the Sox well behind their normal Springtime place in line. I keep telling myself not to press; that the unhinged and affirming lack of perspective will come in due time. But back there, somewhere, the seeds of doubt cast around for purchase.


rob said...

jesus, between matsuzaka and wakefield, i shake like leo mazzone. stop fucking nibbling, daisuke-san.

rob said...

johnny damon's arm. a punch line of its very own.

TJ said...

Well, I bet Damon could out toss Posada right now...good god man.