Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tonight marks the 200th post in the history of Sedition In Red Sox Nation. Truly, it was a fitting occasion with Roger Clemens pitching against Josh Beckett in Yankee Stadium on national television. With an atmosphere like that, you just had to know that something verging on the miraculous would take place. And it did. No matter what Red Sox fans will believe, it wasn't a humdrum miracle, like the team losing to the Yankees for the second time in two days.

I don't mean something as trivial as Clemens taking a no hit bid into the sixth. With four walks and a hit bats-person (I'm not convinced that Pedroia is a man), a little bit of the bloom slides off that particular lily. And even though the David Ortiz upper deck shot to the shallowest part of the yard which ended the no-hitter and provided a fit foil to set against the Reggie Jackson three homer performance in Game 6 of the 77 World Series celebrated in the finale of the Bronx is Burning, that was not the miracle.

The miracle came in that very same inning, when there was a man on base and the immortal JD Drew stood at the plate. Even though no one believed that the most disappointing $14 million man could hit an aging legend like Clemens with a man on base, Drew got a base hit. True, he didn't drive in the runner, but he took a step in a positive direction. After all, the Dr. Leo Marvin program in the cinematic tour de force What About Bob? was called baby steps, not giant adult strides.

This was an important base hit for JD. If he didn't get that hit, could you imagine how badly the Yankees own resident big ticket outfield disappointment would have shown up his former team over these two games? You might remember that guy, he used to play for the Sox, wear number 18 and go by the name of Johnny Damon. He might be dropping the ball as far as big picture production goes, but he now has a homer and 4 RBI against the team that wouldn't pay him $52 million over four years, but threw a $70 million chunk into procuring the "services" JD Drew until 2011. And the Yankees have managed to win 14 of the 16 games in which Damon has played in left field of late.

One thing should be abundantly clear following tonight's pitching performance. Josh Beckett should win the AL Cy Young, the NL Cy Young and whatever awards correspond to the Cy Young for AAA, AA, A and winter ball. And he probably would have salted away the corresponding pitching award for the Japanese league had he only allowed 11 hits tonight. Even that home run for A Rod should barely count against him, as it was a line shot to the opposite field and barely went out of the yard.

In fact, I think we ought to be fair to Beckett and go ahead and chalk this one up as a win anyway. After all, the Yankees left 7 men on base, including six in scoring position against him tonight. And they only had 13 hits in 6 and 2/3 innings. That's almost as good as a shutout, at least in the mind of the average Red Sox fan. Just because he didn't win the game doesn't mean it should affect his statistics adversely.

There is a school of thought that a manager probably should have taken his starter out after 100 plus pitches over six innings and a dozen hits. Of course, some might think Francona is trying to rest his bullpen after that taxing series with the White Sox this past weekend and an off day on Monday. Then again, perhaps it is unfair to blame Francona for his decisions. He may have been bored into catatonia by this piece in which Dan Shaughnessy managed to miss the point to a degree I would not have believed possible, even for an epic misser of points like the CHB.

I think Francona might be dumb enough to think that Shaughnessy was right. But I think even a mind as sharp as Tito's could have been dulled by the impressive array of bad puns, bad jokes and bad logic that made up this farce of a column. One day, a courageous editor might want to whisper to Dan Shaughnessy that whatever he is with ceased to be it sometime in the waning days of Ty Cobb's career. Just because you are dimly aware of recent developments in popular culture like the Bronx is Burning and Superbad, doesn't mean you sound cool or clever when you try to throw them in to spice up a vanilla piece.

A more intelligent and perceptive writer might have drawn from a classic film like Patton, which features an excellent scene in which George C. Scott as the great general enumerates the myriad of woes besetting the German army right before they launch the offensive known to history as the Battle of the Bulge. The weather is terrible, the supplies and morale on the German side are virtually non-existent and on top of everything, the Germans had not mounted a major winter attack since the time of Frederick the Great (he ruled from 1740-1786, for those who aren't history buffs). For all those reasons, it looked like the Germans wouldn't attack, and it was for all those reasons Patton knew that attack was imminent. That would have really classed up a comparison between this Yankee team and the Red Sox in 2004.

Unfortunately, the Yankee bullpen was something of a cloud on this victory. Kyle Farnsworth reminded every one why he's been given so many chances for so many teams. He had the velocity that has kept him in the majors, and the inconsistency that has kept his bags packed. That two run homer Farnsworth surrendered to Youkilis really hurt. Thankfully, JD Drew was able to put a silver lining on that dark cloud by striking out feebly.

Unfortunately, I subscribe to the theory first advanced by Jerry Garcia, that every silver lining has a touch of grey. That touch of grey: Mariano Rivera got his second save of the series. It's always good to see Rivera pitch more like he did in his prime than he pitched at the beginning of the year. But the thing about that is, Rivera is not a young man any more. So there is not a very high likelihood of him being available should it get to that point in tomorrow night's game. Of course, Joba Chamberlain will be available tomorrow, and who knows what might happen. But it would have been nice to see the Yankees have a shot at a sweep and have all of their weapons ready to go against the hated enemy.

From the "there's a method to my madness" category, it might not have made for a well structured post with the two Drew criticisms sandwiched around the long Frederick the Great/Patton digression. In my defense, I hoped to mitigate the bad karma and reverse jinx potential I have bestowed on JD Drew. I remember that game where he hit two three run homers against the Diamondbacks not too long after one of my long diatribes against him. Nor have I forgotten the hot start to this season he put up after I spent the better part of the offseason railing against his signing, even though that seems like a more distant memory than the Prussian monarch I referenced tonight.

PS - I don't know if you recall the post in which JD Durbin was lampooned as tool of the week (back when there was a shot that I might actually have the discipline to post a tool of the week segment on a weekly basis). Since that time, the tool of the week segment has been modified to a tool of note segment. And more astonishing, the tool JD Durbin has pitched effectively for the Philadelphia Phillies. Kudos to Theo and the mental giants on Yawkey Way for letting him go for absolutely nothing. At least they managed to dream up Sox Appeal. Nothing like exploiting the inability of modern men and women to connect on an interpersonal level to perpetuate the subspecies of troglodytes who root for the Red Sox to undermine our societ. But I digress far to far, and I must sign off for the night.

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