Get That Ass Back
Git R Done!
Tonight's game was not meant for types who wish to wax poetic and lyrical about "the beautiful game". Tonight's game was prohibited for those who are pregnant, nursing, under 4' 11" or who have a heart condition. Exceptionally large-hearted people might be at risk riding this particular ride.
But for people who want to see nasty, sweaty, snarling, chaw-spittin', ball-scratchin' baseball every once in a while, tonight's game was an instant Redneck Classic.
Let's begin with Wakefield--our blue-collar hero on the mound. He and his hangdog look took the field with the goal of becoming the first Red Sox pitcher to go 4-0 against the Toronto Blue Jays since Dennis Eckersley in 1979. Red Sox fans, fresh from being humbled in their division fantasies by the previous night's shutout at the hands of curveballer Ted Lilly, were anxious for tonight's game to show that the loss had been a hiccup and not the beginnings of a slide.
It reminded me of David Ortiz' statement earlier this season that "The Bambino is kicking our ass right now. But we gonna get that ass back."
No muss. No fuss. No pussyfootin' around, junior. We'll just take that ass back to Boston with us, thanks.
Flash forward to the sixth inning. Following Belli's air-mailed three-run jack to put the Sox up 5-3, the situation was: bases loaded, no outs. Again. And if there's anything worse than uttering the phrase "Bases loaded, no outs," it's "Bases loaded, no outs...again."
I was at my parents' house, cozy in the living room with my whole family and ice cream. We were flipping between the Sox and the women's beach volleyball championship at the Olympics. Finally we flipped back and there was Tito flipping his right hand toward the bullpen, and there was No. 50, in to save the day.
"Oh, GOD." I moaned. "NOT WHIPLASH."
Yes, "Whiplash" is the affectionate nickname my father slapped on Timlin earlier this season when he was, to put it politely, struggling. We still call him that, even though he's been more solid with every outing. Still, it makes me nervous at best to see Timlin come in in such a situation.
But as with last year's playoffs, something about adrenaline turns Timlin into Super-Timlin, like Popeye with spinach, or Bruce Banner getting a little hot under the collar. Get those glands pumping, and suddenly Timlin becomes...Balls of Steel Timlin...Hand of Fate Timlin...Do Not Ask for Whom the Bell Tolls Timlin.
Reed Johnson whiffed. Orlando Hudson whiffed. Alexis Rios hit an abortive dribbler directly to Orlando Cabrera, who flipped to Bellhorn for the out. On each of the at-bats, Mike Timlin never got to Ball 2.
Before our very eyes, bases loaded, no outs...again...became K, K, 6-4, "suck-it" gesture, and leave. It was mighty. It was glorious. It was nasty. It was...testosterone-drenched.
It was a reminder that baseball is not all about balletic fielding or gazelle-like running or the graceful flight of a ball dropping over the wall. Baseball, as much as any of those things, is about one man's utter domination over another man, in the 60-foot, 6-inch gladiatorial arena between the mound and home plate.
Things got tighter again as the Jays manufactured a run against a dimmed Timlin in the seventh, and Keith Foulke induced myocardial infarctions all over New England when he gave up a 2-out walk to former Oakland teammate Frank Menecheno in the ninth.
After working a 1-2 count on the final batter, Eric Hinske, Foulke was a shining sheet of persperation as he gazed in toward Mirabelli, his shoulders tense, his jaw set. Mirabelli flashed the sign, and in the last moment, he gave a little nod of his head, a little bulge of his eyes behind the mask, a nearly imperceptible jab with the glove toward Foulke, as if willing Foulke's eyes toward his target, willing the ball to find the right path past Hinske.
A fraction of a second later, the thought was made flesh. Hinske had barely finished his fruitless swing before he bonked himself on the helmet with his bat, hollering in frustration. Foulke, stone-faced, stared in at Hinske for a long moment, and then capped his triumph with a derisive hocchh...pthoo onto the turf in front of the mound.
Ugly. Sweaty. Nasty. Not for the faint of heart. As LaterGator put it on the SG message board, "That was fun in a help-me-my-parachute-won't-open kind of way."
The Sox won ugly tonight. And damned if it doesn't feel good.