Well, that makes two consecutive Boston sports-themed posts where I’ve cribbed from Clancy for the title. Fear not, Bear and Dragon fans. I can’t stand the Bruins.
The Red Sox, however, have my heart forever.
Over the weekend, the family and I headed North for our traditional Columbus Day Weekend getaway to Limerick, Maine. There, in that quiet hamlet just a shade south of Portland, rests Andi’s Dad’s lake house that has played host to her Dad’s extended family for an annual autumnal get-together for as long as I’ve been in the picture (and many years past).
Although the attendees change from year to year (we’ve missed a couple ourselves when weddings or other events have intervened), the trappings of the weekend remain the same. A lot of R & R dotted with apple picking excursions, boat rides across the lake and trips to our favorite breakfast emporium – The Potting Shed. As a bonus, her Dad shares my enthusiasm for ‘the sports’ so the Pats game becomes immediate appointment viewing augmented by whatever MLB divisional playoff game happens to be on at the time. If the Sox are in the playoffs, all the better, but no matter who is playing, we’re watching.
In years’ past, we’ve seen some gems there including the 1999 series against the Cleveland Indians where the Sox fought back from an 0-2 deficit (sans Pedro) to force that mythic Game 5 – where an ailing Pedro entered the game, and coupled with Troy O’Leary’s go-ahead Grand Slam, shut the door on the Indians’ hopes for further October baseball. Of course, we all know how the rest of that season played out – with a Game 2 embarrassment of Roger Clemens in Fenway Park being the sole highlight in an ALCS Yankee drubbing.
The point is, I always look forward to these weekends away, where I get to spend the daylight hours enjoying the fall scenery with the family and then get to hunker down alongside my Father-in-Law and bathe in the cathode glow while an entire galaxy above beams its brilliant starlight across the glassy lake surface. It’s great background scenery for watching The Big Show. With the crisp autumnal chill sending us to the ice chest every half hour or so for another heart-warming bottle of Oktoberfest, we drink in game after game of America’s pastime at the exact time of year when it tastes the sweetest. The comedic stilings of Dane Cook may be completely played out but the guy’s got one thing right.
There is only one October.
So, over the weekend, I was able to fully enjoy Games 2 and 3 of the Red Sox-Angels series. While Diasuke continued to give me fits, the bats buoyed my anticipation of this next round of playoffs. Remember when we used to make it to the post-season only to watch our clean-up guys get swept. The Mo and Conseco show was always ripe for cancellation. Now, we thrill to Manny and Big Papi vying for the role of Mr. October. And if you get beyond those two, you still have to deal with Mike Lowell.
Here’s a memo to Theo. Don’t pull another JD Drew out of your hat. Sure, you’ll feel obliged to pony up enough scratch to land the over-rated purple-lipped purse snatcher, but do we really need A-Rod and his ‘0 for the Playoffs’ record. Yes, you’ll have to pay a little more than Lowell should get but that’s how this market works. Very rarely do you get savings on the dollar. The Wakefield Home Town discount only comes around when you get that rare player who will do anything, including act as his own agent, to insure he can retire with the team – and town – that he truly calls home.
What I wrote earlier this season about Schilling, I’ll echo with Lowell. We don’t need A-Rod. We already have someone better; certainly when it all counts.
Regarding Red Light, Schill added ample evidence to my argument that we never needed to recover the Rocket as we already had a better model here on the team. In my opinion, Schilling’s Game 3 start on Sunday matched Beckett’s master class of Game 1 through the pure pleasure in seeing our elder statesman at the top of his game. And spare me the ‘Angels are a beat-up ball club’ argument. Before the series started, all I heard about was how the Red Sox were going to have their hands full with the Angels’ aggressive small ball. Beckett shut the door on that by keeping them off base (he would have done the same to whatever team he pitched against.) Then Schilling came in to close the barn door in Game 3 and despite that fact that the Angels had opportunities to scramble around the bases, Schilling kept them off the one that matters most. By keeping them off home, that’s exactly where he sent them packing.
I’m encouraged by the 1-2 punch of Beckett and Schilling. On that topic, I’ll echo the prediction I made to my Father-in-Law two nights ago. Just because the Baseball Gods love a good storyline, I see Beantown facing off against Schilling’s former home town, Arizona, in the World Series with two former World Series MVP’s (Schill and Beckett) joining forces to duel in the desert.
At least in the arid Arizona sands, both teams will be spared that plague of locusts that beset the Yankees and Indians during Game 2 of the Cleveland/New York series at Jacob’s Field. Geez, who knew the Yankee fans traveled so well?!?!?
I know this post has been a bit scattershot but I wanted to put into print some of the random thoughts that jumped in my head as we surfed from game to game throughout the weekend series’. One happy upgrade to the ALCS is we can now bid a long-overdue goodbye to that cable access telecast the Turner Broadcast System cobbled together for the various divisional series.’ Did Turner lay down so much scratch to the MLB that there was barely enough left over to staff the on-air talent?
For starters, who is Jose Mota? I couldn’t make heads or tails of anything he said and after awhile began to suspect that Sacha Baron Cohen was simply auditioning Borat 2.0. Did TBS mean to collar Guillermo Mota and simply rung up the wrong guy. One day you’re picking strawberries and the next, you’re giving color commentary.
“Americahhhh. Whad’ a country!!!”
And then there’s Alyssa Milano who was apparently hired to provide on-the-field reports simply because she has banged more Florida Marlins than anyone else in America. That does it. If this is how you get a job in primetime television, than I’m ringing up Dontrelle Willis to see if he has dinner plans.
Well, guess what MLB? You win. You finally got me to stop bitching and embrace the return of Tim McCarver when the Sox land on Fox for the ALCS. Don’t forget!!! Every time Tim calls Wakefield – Bill, or Beckett – Samuel, ya’ take a shot.
That said, can’t you just feel it? October Baseball is what this grand sport is all about. We spend half a season bitching about how long these seasons run and then when we get to these final four weeks, we wish they would run another dozen. Yes, football season rocks your socks off, and it’s in and out before you know it (and you’re knee deep in six inches of slush), but there is just something magical about baseball that when those spotlights draw on the final eight teams, we’re drawn to it like Lake Erie larvae to the world’s biggest bug zapper, Jacob’s Field.
And if it means having to sit through Dane Cook over-pronouncing AWEEE-CTOBER ad nauseum, then so be it.
I love this game.