Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Game 76: Foulked Up

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 8, Cleveland Indians 12

One thing about TV: it makes me angry very easily, because I can see for myself what's going on; no intermediaries who can't say terrible things about the umpire or the players, no commentators for major networks who are obligated to sound neutral in their description. Just pure, moderately unadulterated clarity of vision. Like last night, when I tuned into, only to find that the $50 I paid does NOT guarantee me NESN. No, instead I had the smarmy remarks of the FSN Ohio broadcasters, who were already jumping for joy before the game even started. Then Miller started to pitch.

I know there are people out there who hate QuesTec, but within the first few pitches I was wishing Fenway Park was QuesTec equipped - the umpire may have said Miller threw five balls to start the game, but at least two of those "balls" were strikes. Within minutes it was 2 - 0 Indians and by the second inning, Aaron Boone (of all people) made it 3 - 0 with a Green Monster homerun.

Thinking that I am truly jinxing games by watching them (and getting a little tired of FSN) I switch to audio, only to find that Joe and Jerry have a booth guest: a woman from the Make a Wish Foundation. Now, this may make me sound like a heartless bastard, but I hate charity booth guests. Why do I hate them? Because they're not there to watch the game - they're there to talk about their charity. Now, since I'm relying on the commentators to describe the game for me and the mic time is instead taken up with someone talking about their cause, with short updates from Joe or Jerry about the progress of the game, all continuity is lost. I can't focus on what's happening, or imagine the scene. The worst was when one guest was so insistent on getting all her ideas out that she tried to cut Joe off when he gave an update on a hit that resulted in runs being scored against the Red Sox. That's why I hate charity booth guests.

Now, since I have the option of switching, I just go back to TV, but turned the volume off this time. An inning ends and I go eat dinner, coming back about 15 minutes later for the start of the rally in the fifth. Lots of first pitch swinging again, but this time balls are dropping when they should, or going deep enough to advance/score runners. Taking up an invitation to go to Robin's place, my girlfriend and I leave the house and take the ten minute subway ride.

When we get there, it's the bottom of the sixth and the guns have started up again. Robin, who is watching the whole thing on Gameday is in a state (possibly brought on by the heat in his place): dancing around, jumping up and down, screaming things like "Guh-guh-
guh-guh-guh-guh-guh-guh-guh-guh-guh!" every time the Sox score another run. By the time Cliff Lee (who really does alternate between seven inning two run starts and five inning four or five run starts), Arthur Rhodes and Matt Miller combine to get three outs, the score is 8 - 5 in favor of Boston. We commence drinking and playing cards (an excellent activity for a work night), availing ourselves of the occasional update. Myers gets through 2/3rds of the seventh with only one hit. Timlin finishes the seventh, but only makes it through 2/3rds of the eighth before giving up three hits. Foulke comes on and by the time the eighth is over, it looks like it's going to be another close save - the Tribe have scored two more, making it 8 - 7, Sox.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Sox fail to pull off anything further against Miller and out comes Foulke again, to try and get one of those 1 - 2 - 3 innings that he's been getting with increasing regularity this month. No dice - Foulke gives up the tying run to the number nine hitter, then a grand slam to Grady Sizemore before finally getting the last out. It might not be all Foulke's fault, though - apparently the umpire's strike zone was on the fritz again and we might have escaped with the game tied. No rally in the bottom of the ninth against Bob Wickman and the game is over. Bah.

Hanley Ramirez was up at the Sox clubhouse two days ago,* taking in the sights, hanging out with Manny, Ortiz and Renteria and wishing he could jump straight to the big time. Clearly his visit isn't much more than a fluff story - until you read in the Globe that Renteria, who has had an especially close relationship with Ramirez since spring training, said without any prompting that he'd be willing to give up his shortstop position to Ramirez and play another position. Besides being incredibly generous, a move like that would set up some very interesting possibilities - Mueller, Bellhorn and Millar are all free agents at the end of the season. With an up and coming second baseman in Dustin Pedroia (currently in AAA) and Kevin Youkilis now able to play first, an infield of Youkilis, Pedroia, Ramirez and Renteria (at third) is a possibility. Of course, since Ramirez looks like he'll be in AA for a bit longer (
.269 batting average with only two home runs and 22 RBIs in 57 games), the confluence of the stars might not happen. What's more, there are still rumors that Ramirez will be converted into a center fielder to stave off the Scott Boras assault this winter when Johnny Damon's contract comes up, so Renteria may stay at short for a while yet. Interesting to contemplate, though.

1:00 game today, hopefully with the NESN broadcast this time - although I see that ESPN is carrying the game as well. Tim Wakefield will be trying to get his fourth straight quality start and avoid the sweep, going up against Scott Elarton. GO SOX!!!

* -
Thanks to Joy of Sox for the heads up