Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.

Ernest Lawrence Thayer used those words to conclude his famous opus, Casey at the Bat, which was published in the Examiner in 1888. I use them tonight because there is no joy in doucheville, with Varitek at the bat representing the tying run in the ninth inning. Do I even need mention that he struck out rather lamely on a pitch 2 and 1/2 feet out of the strike zone to conclude the threat?

We've come a long way, indeed, since the days when Varitek was the apple of Red Sox Nation's collective eye having stood so bravely against A Rod when he was armored in catching equipment (complete with mask) and A Rod wasn't. Now he is mired in a slump which is so catastrophic that he finally looks as ridiculous on the field as he does off it.

On the plus side, at least Tek is working ever so hard, even on his precious days off, to lift himself out of this slump by his proverbial bootstraps. Of course, to bowdlerize the Sean Connery character from The Rock, losers always whine about trying their best; winners go home and experience coitus with the prom queen. Rest assured, Red Sox Nation, that, with Tek under the watchful tutelage of Dave Madagan, this slump is sure to end soon enough.

Speaking of Madagan, I hope he considers the example of his predecessor closely. After all, former Sox hitting coach Ron Jackson was part of that nightmarish turnaround in 2004. Jackson, more than any other outside influence, was largely credited with the adjustments that turned David Ortiz from a guy with a lot of potential into the Papi we all know and love (but me, apparently). And it was Jackson who was one of those purged from the organization after 2006 and the epic collapse. Maybe Madagan should have rented...

Leaving that aside for the moment, I think it's time we got to the bottom of a serious injustice. According to the build-up to this series, this was supposed to be about bad blood between the teams. Jonathan Papelbon, among others on this pitching staff, vowed retribution for the Devil Rays not disbanding their organization after a pitcher hit Coco Crisp in Fenway without the expressed written consent of the Red Sox. Why is Tampa stubbornly insisting on playing baseball and not simply forfeiting each game?

Perhaps someone in the Red Sox PR office was asleep at the switch. Maybe the Rays didn't get the memo that they were supposed to be pushed around and laughed out of their own stadium in this series. Instead, they've won two games. There haven't been any brawls. How dare they. And to top it off, they continue to help Varitek make a fool of himself.

And as for Papelbon, it's hard to take revenge on an opposing team when you aren't called upon to pitch. Nevertheless, it might be possible that he has already taken revenge. I think we all presume too much when we think Papelbon, with his tragically limited intellectual capacity, knows what revenge is, much less how a man goes about taking same.

But again, the real meathead in this is Francona. I can see that pinch hitting Varitek this evening was a desperate effort to shock his light-hitting catcher into some small measure of offensive production. And Varitek was, apparently, going to come into the game with Wake leaving. But surely there must have been a better option available, as in some bench player who might actually get a hit once in a blue moon? Or maybe not.

Speaking of meatheads, I forget how long it's been since I ripped the CHB. Since he'd spent so much time covering the Celtics (why, I don't know) and I spent so much time ignoring the Celtics, there just didn't seem to be a point. But know that he's back to covering the Sox and coming at Manny with guns blazing, it's time to revist everybody's favorite Boston newspaperman with a room temperature IQ (sorry, Bob Ryan, but you need to do some work to get to room temperature status).

It never gets easy to read a Shaughnessy piece. Buried in the middle of this particular "effort" is a sentence that reads "no one wants to demonize Manny." Was the man born with no sense of irony or did he have to work to lose it? He's ripping Manny for shoving the travelling secretary to the ground (which was kind of beat, but no one is saying exactly what the man may have said to Manny to provoke the normally spaced out slugger into shoving him in the first place. Not that that makes Manny right, just that we could use more info). Doesn't that demonize Manny? Not to mention the headline "This time, Manny being Manny is unacceptable."

And I seem to recall Shaughnessy finding it tremendously risible when Pedro mad-dogged Don Zimmer to the turf in ought four. But apparently that was OK because the old man in question (who is, incidentally, considerably older than the Red Sox travelling secretary) was affiliated with another organization. Or perhaps Zimmer didn't see the incalculable potential of an aspiring cub reporter for the Boston Globe who was still struggling to shake off his uncanny physical resemblance to Dr. Who while Zim managed the Sox?

I also love Shaughnessy calling Manny fans sycophants (not that they aren't). After all, it can be ever so difficult to understand the CHB when he talks, what with the proximity of his lips to Larry Lucchino's derriere and all. That said, I really hope America's Prom Date is enough of a douche to let Manny go to another team because he dropped the travelling secretary with a forearm shiver. Wouldn't that be a grand gesture to the morons in Red Sox Nation?

And in other news, Dan Duquette is being probed by the state ethics commission for selling World Series tickets to the mayor of Pittsfield at face value when he was working to secure a city site for his minor league team to play in Pittsfield. If you're going to get caught for something like this, why not just make it an outright bribe? And I still hate Duquette after all these years, even though he reminds me of a slightly more amusing version of Dan Akroyd from Caddyshack II to his turn as the auto parts mogul in Tommy Boy.