...Makes Me Stronger
You had to know. The Yankees are this year's "Cowboy Up" team. As soon as Ortiz was called out with the bases loaded--after they'd been loaded with no outs--you had to know.
Andy and I knew. It was great to watch a game with him, since he's funny as hell and always makes the experience as fun as possible. For instance, when Tito walked out to the mound to remove the struggling Wake before he blew his own lead--something Andy and I stood and quite sardonically clapped for--I was still muttering, "Not enough. Not enough. Not enough." I'd been saying it the whole game.
Meanwhile as they showed footage of Williamson howling in pain after his last performance at Fenway, I shrieked, "Oh, yeah, so let's test him out right now. See what happens with runners at the corners and one out in Yankee Stadium."
"Yeah," Andy chimed in. "Let's just bring out the one-armed wonder and see how it works out. Maybe his arm will fly off and smack the guy upside the head."
And I cracked up. I couldn't help it. That's why Andy's great.
All joking aside, the game had given me a few sickly promises of hope. The defense was better--at least until before the wheels came off. The runs were manufactured in part, another good sign.
But still. I knew. Not enough. Not enough. Not enough. Two runs are not enough against this year's edition of the New York Yankees.
Oh, I was still "keeping my Sox on" as they say. I was fully expecting them to score at least two more with the bases loaded with no outs. Seriously. Despite the fact that they've shot themselves in the foot in that situation before, I fully expected things to keep going the Red Sox's way.
"You buckled in?" Andy said from the other side of the couch, mimicking clutching the safety harness on a roller coaster. "You ready?"
Wake walks one, beans one. He's yanked. He put in an excellent performance tonight, nothing you can fault him for. Tito administered the hook at precisely the right time, too. Gold star on his chart for that. Here comes Williamson. He puts in a blood-and-guts performance but another guy reaches. Bases loaded and Williamson, wincing, calls Mirabelli over, who promptly calls all hands to the mound. Williamson is yanked--he yanked himself, for which he deserves commendation.
As the pow-wow begins on the mound for Williamson, Andy does a voice-over. "Guys," he says for Williamson, "My arm kinda...smells funny."
And despite the torturous nature of the situation, I'm laughing again. Oh, that Andy.
Anyway. Timlin comes out after ample time to warm. Okay. He throws a single pitch, and bloop! There goes a little bleeder down the right field line. It gets through Ortiz.
Okay. Okay. The game is tied, but what can you do? Errors happen. It sucks, but in terms of the brain work involved in this inning, what could you have told anyone on the Sox side to do differently? And it's still a one run game. Errors happen. It's still a tie game.
But this. This is what irks me. This is what sticks in my craw. This is what blows my mind and rankles my soul. Gary Sheffield at the plate. Timlin shrugs off Belli once, twice, three times. In the replays you can see Belli motioning frantically for an outside pitch. Timlin won't budge. Finally the replays clearly show Belli rolling his eyes behind his mask. He knows what's about to happen, but he shrugs and goes into his crouch.
First of all, if catcher and pitcher aren't on the same page, they should fucking well meet between the plate and the mound, put their gloves over their mouths and talk about it. They should yell about it if necessary. I don't care if Timlin and Belli slug it out out there, but there should be some communi-fucking-cation in this instance. You know. Being that this game is kinda a little bit important. But no.
Okay. So there's no conference. Couldn't tell you why, but okay.
But why would Timlin be so insistent in the first place? Does he have some inside knowledge of Sheffield that Belli lacks? And even if he does, why wouldn't he think Belli knows how to pitch to Sheffield on this particular night, in this particular situation, being that Belli and not Timlin has been out there behind the plate for all of Sheffield's previous at-bats? Why, just why would Timlin not only shrug Belli off on the pitch he wanted him to make, but go the exact opposite way with the location?
Belli's not the catcher Timlin's used to, but the guy's a knuckleball specialist. If he can call a knuckleballer, don't you think he might have some idea about location?
Obviously I wasn't inside either one of these guys' heads. And who knows, perhaps the argument in and of itself tipped Sheffield off that Timlin wasn't going to pitch him outside, if that's what Sheffield knows pitchers like to pick on. But the fact of the matter is that Timlin did what he damn well pleased and pitched Sheffield inside, a pitch Sheffield promptly lasered into left past the diving Bellhorn for an easy double, scoring the insurance runs.
That, friends, is what lost the game. Not Ortiz's error. Not Manny going 0-fer for another night thanks to the SI Jinx. Not Francona being a dunce or the starter not being up to snuff or the Yankees being simply unbeatable. It came down to that one, pigheaded, inexplicable, ridiculous move on the part of Mike Timlin, a simple case of someone trying to put "I" in team and make his own decision.
I don't know what you can do about that. I'm flustered, flabbergasted, confounded, confused, discombobulated. I have no solution. But that is the problem, for what it's worth.
Anyway. There is one bright spot in this whole mess, and that is the superb writeup on Manny in SI this week. Particularly the opening paragraphs:
It is the face of a great silent comic, one that Mack Sennett would have cast on the spot. It is open and broad. Part of the appeal is the huge brown eyes and another part is the wild, brambly hair above them. But mostly it comes from the ability to reveal most of the humor without sharing all of the joke.
He is smiling at them now, the Boston Red Sox fans clustered three-deep outside the glass windows of a radio booth tucked into a wall just below the more famous wall that rises above leftfield at Fenway Park. You can almost see the smile go through the glass and out into the crowd, see it ripple through them as they poke each other and smile back at him. Manny Ramirez smiles again, waves and touches his heart, and the crowd seems to buckle from the radiating joy of his grin.
I kick myself for not writing this. I don't know if that's ever happened to you, where you read something so good it makes you angry you didn't think of it, but that's exactly how I felt when I read this opening salvo by author Charles P. Pierce.
I guess that's why he gets the big money.