Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Game 100 Redux: Game Of The Year.

Today's title went through several permutations from the time I left Yankee Stadium last night, with the score tied 6 - 6 and Clement injured (especially after a fan behind me expressed the wish that Clement would die - what's up with that?) to seeing the ending of the game after I got home to reading about the whole thing afterwards. I settled on a take off of Pink Floyd's The Wall in the end. A few observations as I'm watching what's still the game of the year, even when I knew the outcome:
  • It's a sign of how much Francona is worried about his bullpen wearing out that Chad Bradford was out there facing Aubrey Huff, a lefty and that Mike Myers faced a few righties before he left the game. Of course, Huff is batting .395 with an OPS of over 1.000 against Boston this year in 38 at bats, so maybe Tito figured he was damned no matter what. Or maybe he didn't think to warm Myers up early enough to face Huff if Bradford got into trouble. In any case, it's possible we could have avoided much of the tension at the end of this game with some better pitching decisions.
  • I like the Tampa Bay video announcers. They're not obnoxious, they're not chatty and they make some good observations about the course of the game.
  • Was Tito giving Ortiz the night off, or did he decide to DH Mirabelli because Mirabelli has had so much success (.530+ AVG) against Hendrickson? Didn't he realize that the Sox were likely to repeat their success against Hendrickson and that Piniella would pull his starter early? Of course, I'm sure Tito didn't assume a Rays comeback either, even though the Sox were supposedly "not looking past Rays." On a related note, the Rays recently designated Lance Carter, the pitcher who threw at Big Papi's head, for assignment.
  • The pacing on this game is rediculous. It feels like I'm watching a highlight reel, not the actual game.
  • The Sox designated John Halama for assignment and brought up 23-year-old Hyde Park, MA native Manny Delcarmen in his stead. Theo seems to be in full Billy Beane mode, remaking his team to solve problems, ditching experiments, etc.
  • I wonder if we would have seen Manny Delcarmen in the eighth if the Sox were not losing by two runs. I suppose if the Rays had not come back the way they did, Delcarmen might have come out anyway - Tito was reportedly averse to making use of Mike Timlin if at all possible. Delcarmen looked really good on his first time out - a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout.
  • The ninth inning rally was a beautiful, beautiful thing. Big Varitek homer, Adam Stern fulfilling his Dave Roberts role by pinch-running for Kevin Millar, Olerud getting the clutch single, the Bill Mueller double...too bad the Moron screwed up once again and sent Olerud, the old guy man with no feet, to try and score from first. Again, one of those situations where the coaching staff got too anxious because of the lack of bullpen pitchers and ended up making a foolish mistake.
  • I love Johnny Damon with all my heart and various parts of my soul. Anyone who makes a leaping grab to take away an opposing walk off home run and then homers on the next pitch is solid gold in my eyes.
  • Curt Schilling gives me the creeping horrors as a closer, because there's no way of knowing when he makes a mistake pitch. He's too methodical to close out games - he makes experiments with his pitches to try and learn things, not to mention the fact that he's still rehabing. It's a great trait for a starter, who has to figure out ways to get the same guy out three or four times a game, but it doesn't work well when you're trying to close. Thank God he did it though and the Sox won what may be this year's defining game for the team.
  • No extra-inning games for 98 games and then two drama-ridden extra-inning games in a row?
Even though Carl Crawford hit a ball off his ear last night, Matt Clement, who left the game on a stretcher in neck brace, left the hospital this morning with a cut on his ear and a negative MRI. According to the AP, Clement will not only avoid the DL, but likely not miss a start with the day off on Thursday. We are SO saved.

At first I thought it was just muckracking, but a Tom Verducci article in Sports Illustrated to be published at the beginning of August will reveal that Manny asked the Front Office to be traded. This article in the Herald, though, it may very well be that Manny and the Sox Front Office operate in weird sort of behind-the-scenes war, where Manny will play out the end of his contract because he can't afford not to and then retire from baseball. Or be like Ricky Williams and only retire temporarily. Who knows. I agree with Boston Dirt Dogs; this is the best quote from the article:
for the third time in three years. I thought it was Manny being Manny, especially after his apparent change of heart last year. After reading
"As for the Red Sox, they won with Ramirez before and they can win with him now. Ramirez has been a distraction since the day he arrived in Boston, but the beauty of the current Sox is they are anarchists. They thrive on chaos. Francona, general manager Theo Epstein and owner John Henry seemingly cannot log on to the Internet without reading a stupid, controversial or tactless remark made by one of their players, who seem to thrive on lawlessness, answer to no one and insist on policing themselves."

A part of this war: Manny chose to take a day off today, even though the team needs his bat, because Manny and Tito had scheduled the day off last week. DO is making comparisons between Manny this year and Nomar this time last year right now, although we can never be sure if Manny's behaving this way on purpose or because he doesn't think about anything outside his immediate situation.

It wouldn't be a proper season without a Trot Nixon injury: the right fielder strained an oblique swinging at a pitch in the third and will be out for some time, depending on the severity of the strain. The Sox right field is starting to remind me of the Patriot's secondary last year - anyone who can play there will. I suppose it's a good thing Nixon hurt himself now instead of in August, because he should be back for the stretch drive in September. To fill the holes in the bullpen and take Nixon's roster spot, Lenny DiNardo makes another return from Pawtucket.

Wakefield versus Seth McClung this afternoon (4:15) for the series finale and the series victory. GO SOX!!!

| | | | | | | | |