Sunday, October 14, 2007

2007 ALCS Game 2: Mind Riot

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 6, Cleveland Indians 13

I was crying from my eye teeth and/Bleeding from my soul
And I sharpened my wits on a dead man’s skull

Even though J.D. Drew's first season with the Red Sox has fallen far short of anyone's expectations - witness the OBP and SLG scores, the home run totals, the numbers of hits, all off last year's mark, far short career highs and, at $14.4 million a season, not what Boston paid to see - no one in a logical, rational frame of mind would say that Drew is not an upgrade over Trot Nixon, whose market value might be five times less than Drew, but whose returns on investment - fewer hits, about 150 less plate appearances in 40 fewer games, less power, etc. all in a body a year older and far more banged up - has removed him from consideration as a starting right fielder. Trot Nixon has dirt dogged himself into a veteran utility role, pure and simple.

I built an elevator from his bones/Had climb to the top floor just/To stamp out the coals

We look at the stats and the history and we know all of these things to be true on an intellectual level. The higher courses of our brains reassure us with facts and figures, telling us that while day-to-day baseball is fluky, things eventually trend out to prove the superiority or inferiority of a choice. J.D. Drew is the better right fielder; this is known. But that current of rational thought is just a cheap veneer, cracking and melting away from the pressure of the primitive, emotional parts of the brain that focus all too easily on one thing: when J.D. Drew came up to bat in the eighth inning with a chance to start the third (and final) Red Sox rally, he hit a liner to center field. When Trot Nixon came up in similar situation in the eleventh inning, he hit the single that scored the go-ahead run. "Trot Nixon beat us," we rage, "why isn't he on the Red Sox anymore?"

And the candle was burning yesterday/Like somebody’s friend died
And I‘ve been caught in a mind riot/I’m tied within

Though Nixon's single pierces our mind with its sheer ironic temerity, claiming its place as tonight's unkindest cut of all, it was not the only stab of the night: from Schilling's lackluster line (4.2 innings, nine hits, five runs, two gopher balls) to the return of the Red Scare (two blown saves and a seven run, last nail in the coffin eleventh inning), tonight was a blood-stained affair that Red Sox Nation would rather forget. And you know what? I'm happy to do so, to focus on the positive: Manny and Ortiz remain the Castor and Pollux of the 2007 playoffs, the heart of the order continues to rock the party that rocks the body, and tonight Fausto Carmona's deal with the devil looked like it expired in Cleveland sometime last week. Give tonight a pass, and move on to Cleveland ready to get back on track to victory.

I’m luck’s last match struck/In the pouring down wind