Friday, October 15, 2004

McDreams of McPlayoffs

I'm hoping this is a good omen. Last night I dreamt that I was hanging out with Manny Ramirez at a McDonald's. (Manny had the Big N' Tasty Extra Value Meal and an extra Big Mac. I had the Double Cheeseburger Extra Value Meal. Neither of us Super Sized our orders.) And while we ate Manny asked if I'd do the voiceovers in a new video short he was having produced about his career with the Red Sox. I awoke before I had a chance to say, "Yes, by all means yes!"

Now the reason I'm hoping this is a very good presage of possible playoff pomp, is that previous dreams have involved the Yankees. Long time readers, for instance, may recall the dream where Derek Jeter and I were best friends. (And how can anything good come from that? Talk about your Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams. Jeez.)

Meanwhile I now have McDonald's completely on the brain. It took all of my will to not stop there for a Sausage McMuffin this morning. And if the weather clears, it'll be an Odyssean struggle not to be lured by the siren call of the golden arches. (Perhaps I should put beeswax in my ears and lash myself to my cubicle?) Don't get me wrong. I'm not in the anti-McDonald's "they are destroying the whole world and must be stopped at all costs!" crowd. (I'm an avowed lover of fast food, if you recall.) It's just that (per doctor's orders) I'm trying to lay off the salt intake and, per my own motives, I've been far more calorie conscious after hitting 40 than at anytime previously. (The eat anything I want even if it's two pepperoni pizzas and a bag of chips with no deleterious bodily effects days are, shall we say, a distant memory.)

So, am I, with all this fast food banality, trying to avoid a serious discussion of the Red Sox? Why, yes, I do believe I am.

What's left to say? The Boston Red Sox have to win tonight. (Or tomorrow in case of a probable rain out. It's that simple. As fans, we can be positive about the club's chances or we can wallow in the wretchedness of "it's happening to us again!" But that won't change the simple fact: The Red Sox need to win one.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Bring On the Bride

There's no other way to put it: The grave has been dug. The pine box has been inserted 6 feet deep, and the Red Sox are in it on their backs, breathing but unconscious. All that's left is to nail down the cover and start shoveling the dirt.

Oh, of course, of course, one can escape such an ignominious end to the season. One can escape being buried alive. We saw the Bride do it in Kill Bill Vol 2, right?

The only problem is The Red Sox are not doing a very good job impersonating the Bride. Well, I take that back. They are doing a very good job of being the Vol 1 comatose Bride in a hospital bed being "looked after" by Buck ("Who likes to … "). Will we see the Sox regain consciousness and fight the way the Bride did?

I want to see some swordplay. I want to see the Sox eliminate the Yankees as if they were knee socked, chain swinging Go Go Yubari at the hands of the Bride wielding the Hanzo.

Red Sox, the Yankees are Bill. Cut to the action sequences, OK?

"Those of you lucky enough to have your lives take them with you. However, leave the limbs you've lost. They belong to me now."

That's what I want to hear.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Despondency, Not an Option

Round one goes to the Spartans.

... since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.
Thucydides, The Melian Dialogue, Book V, 90

And our hero goes down.

Be honest with yourselves, Red Sox followers: Schilling looks cooked. On one leg, unable to push off the mound with a right ankle already injected with a local anesthetic and supported by a brace, Schilling will likely continue to look less like Roger Clemens and more like John Wasdin. And no manager in his right mind would send Wasdin out for a fifth game against the mighty Yankees, even at Fenway Park (Massarotti, Herald).

But the strong do what they can. Do not dare give yourself to despondency. If you were a Hollywood screenwriter, could you script this any better? The pitcher who carried the team on Herculean shoulders all season, the guy who was "the difference," the deciding factor in what would finally put the Red Sox over the Yankees falls pray to fate, to injury, and may not pitch again. You've seen enough movies to know what happens next: The others come to bear the burden. So we are set up for a return of Pedro Martinez as the Ace; a reawakening of Derek Lowe, the Guy Fawkes we've burned in effigy all season, rising from the ashes to become a dominant starter for the Red Sox one ultimate time; and Wakefield finally falls into the good graces of the muses who make the flutterball flutter.

Why can't it go like that? Until scripted otherwise, that is the story I'll tell myself today.

And it's not all a fairy tale either. There's plenty to feel positive about:

Luckily for Boston though, this is Game 1, not Game 7. That’s a huge difference when we’re talking ultimate outcome. Remember, Boston won the first game last year and proceeded to lose four of the next six to New York. And the fact that this team did not lay down and die, down 8-0 as the opposition is hurling a perfecto through six, should be a boost for the Nation heading into Game 2 (Wilbur, Globe)

The strong do what they can. And you?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Eight Is Enough

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.
Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

Think our guy Curt Schilling understands the tenor of the Thucydides' quote above?

This is part of what I had envisioned when we agreed to come here last year, to be part of games like this. I don't know that I've ever pitched in a game that will have the atmosphere that (tonight's) game has. In Arizona during the (2001) World Series, it was electric. All that could be here, but I think the Yankees and the Red Sox is a step above everything else" (Harris, Herald)

Athens v Sparta, the 2004 edition.

Here's Gordon Edes' breakdown:

Factor Edge
Starting lineups Red Sox
Starting pitchers Red Sox
Bullpen Yankees
Benches Red Sox
Manager Yankees

I'm out of words. But no matter, for how many more ways are there to say, "Red Sox-Yankees in October is unlike anything else in sports"?

And there's no way to improve on Curt Schilling's own words: "Why not us?"

Later today at All Baseball Dot Com they'll be posting an email exchange between me and Yankees blogger Alex Belth of Bronx Banter. Should be entertaining. If all Yankees fans were like Alex, there'd be less about that lot to eschew.

Finally, the question of "breaking the curse" keeps coming up. People ask, "Is beating the Yankees enough?" OK. First let me issue the general disclaimer that there is no such thing as a curse — But let's assume that notions of "the curse" can stand in for all of our collective angst and heartbreak over the years. I can't speak for all Red Sox fans, but for me, beating New York in the ALCS is not enough. Only a World Series Pennant will do.

Meanwhile, don't forget to keep a paper bag handy tonight to breathe into should you start to hyperventilate.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Ready and Waiting

"We kind of knew it was going to have to go through New York, so here it goes!" — Johnny Damon

I guess we all knew that, huh? As much as I was rooting for the Twins, I knew deep down that the reality is exactly as Theo Epstein describes it:

"I don't speak for everybody else, but now that it's here we can admit if we're able to win a World Series and go through New York along the way, it will mean that much more," general manager Theo Epstein said yesterday (Horrigan, Herald).

If this team is the anointed one, then the New York Yankees are not going to impede their progress to the World Series.

As Epstein makes clear,

"Last year, we were a little one-dimensional. We were really an offensive juggernaut, and run prevention wasn't necessarily our strong suit, although we did pitch really well in the postseason. This year's team is a bit more multidimensional and there's no glaring weakness necessarily when we execute the play right." (Hohler, Globe).

No glaring weakness. Heck, there's not even much in the veiled weakness category for the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Well, not counting the tendinitis flare up,

Curt Schilling will wear a brace to support his aching right ankle when he faces the New York Yankees … the right-hander, who led the majors with 21 regular-season victories, has been coping with inflamed peroneal tendons, which provide balance and support for the ankle, for the last few weeks but he hasn't let it affect his performance (Horrigan, Herald).

If it were any other pitcher in the world, I might be worried. But Schilling would pitch out of wheelchair if he had to. I don't think there's anything that'll slow him down in this series.

On the trash talk, rivalry front, DirtDogs and others are incensed by MLB's "Who's Your Daddy?" T-Shirts. It does seem a bit odd of MLB to do something like this, especially considering there's nothing from the Red Sox fan p.o.v. to balance it out. You know a "Juice Guys" shirt or maybe one showing Steinbrenner in a Darth Vader costume or something. On the other hand, I think it's a good omen. I guess the 26 World Championships and all that Yankees legacy isn't enough to appeal to the fan base any more. The veneer is cracking, folks. The Yankees fans are jumpy. This is the kind of t-shirt that will appeal to someone convulsing with nervous, paranoid laughter.

At least Alex Belth, as always, remains above the fray, though this is interesting,

For what it’s worth, my gut tells me that the Sox could steam roll the Yanks in five games, but if it goes to six or seven, the Yankees should prevail (Bronx Banter).

I say it's interesting because my own gut says exactly the opposite. Yankees could get a good jump and close it out before the Sox can turn things around. I like our chances in 7. Heck, I like our chances no matter what. But, as many of you argued in a previous comment thread, in a 7 game series the best team does not always win.

This is going to be a long 36 hours until game time.