Pinch-Hitter Comes Up Big
So I stumbled in the door after an ass-rapingly hard day between oversleeping, my boss hating me, and still being so tired that I could probably fall asleep sitting in the front row at a Sox-Yankees game, let alone in front of a computer monitor in my constipated freakin' office, and once I'd groggily turned on the kitchen light, thrown down my keys, and looked around, I found that two gifts awaited me: one was a dozen roses from my boyfriend, who'd looked on anxiously as I caromed around the house in panic when I finally woke up this morning, and the other was the following, by my super cool, celebrity-DJ friend-since-eighth-grade Andy.
Let me tell you a little bit about Andy as a sports fan, first. He absolutely loves baseball, loves it with a natal passion that I truly admire. He was there for my rebirth as a Sox fan last year, and his witticisms and insights into the game had a lot to do with it. There are certain people that make watching a sporting event mean more if you do it in their company. In football, those people are my father and Kellie (who will be mentioned liberally in my forthcoming epistle about the Patriots game). Where baseball is concerned, Andy is simply the best. He doesn't just holler at players on the screen; he spins bitingly clever turns of phrase into insults that bring glory to the art of armchair coaching. He doesn't just rejoice in victory--he says things in observation that cast a whole new light on this thing you are watching together, and why you're doing it.
When I read the following piece, my jaw dropped. I was amazed not only at its insight--I have been somewhat out of the loop as far as the mainstream media today, but I do not recall hearing this particular perspective--but that he had written it specifically for my blog rather than his own. The biggest thanks I can give him, now, is to right-click and paste and hit the "publish" button emphatically. I hope you enjoy his work as much as I do.
You, Too, Are Mortal
by Andy Hicks
Meanwhile, while you were out...
Last night was one of those nights where I wish I was like every red-blooded American male and I ate, drank, and breathed football. Don't get me wrong. I like football okay, just not as much as baseball, and therein lies the problem. Baseball is, it is thought, an old man's game, embraced by limp-wristed intellectuals and people with attention spans. Attention spans are for pussies.
Thing is, I like football, but I love baseball. So when a situation like last night arrives, I'd pick the baseball game. Even though it's the first game of the regular football season. Even though my hometown football team is playing their AFC rivals from last year. And even when the hot-as-that-chick-from-Smallville Red Sox are inexplicably, painfully tanking against the charmingly inept 2004 Seattle Mariners, and the Pats are eking out a down-to-the-wire victory against the Colts. So while Tommy and the boys in blue were giving telling Peyton Manning to go back to his corner and cry, I was gritting my teeth in hopes that the Red Sox would be able to pull a win out of their bum.
Chris White recently wrote an article in the Boston Phoenix reminiscing about "Morgan Magic" back in 1988. As you may recall, back in the days of Belinda Carlisle and Kid Icarus, a mediocre Red Sox team dealing with internal struggles with unhappy players, an ineffectual and disliked manager, and the inability to field a simple grounder all of a sudden started kicking ass and taking names, eventually winning the AL East. Whether this had to do with the acquisition of closer Lee Smith, or whether, as the name suggests, it was the hiring of interim manager and Walpole native Joe Morgan, the Red Sox again became a force to be reckoned with.
My personal feeling, however, is that Morgan Magic happened because Jeffery Doyle Sellers of Compton, CA threw out his shoulder. Mr. Sellers pitched for the Sox for a few seasons, and no less an authority than Roger Clemens said he "had the best stuff on the pitching staff." Nevertheless, as I recall, he finished the 1988 season with a 1-7 record, appearing in only 18 games. It seemed like every time the guy rubbed rosin on his hands, the Sox would lose. I was eight at the time, so I probably have a skewered perception of the whole thing. For example, when I think of Red Sox greats, the first name that comes to mind is "Mike Greenwell." Regardless, the guy, who for some lame only-understandable-if-you're-John-McNamara reason was part of the starting rotation for the first half of the season, wasn't very good, and threw out his arm, forcing the team to replace him with some other guy and then they started winning a lot.
While we're digressing from the main point, the proper way to refer to Manager Morgan is "Walpole native Joe Morgan." It's like "light hitting Pokey Reese" and "TV's Patrick Duffy."
My dad took me to two games in 1988, one two weeks before the winning streak, and the other one day immediately after. The Sox beat the Indians in late June. Then, under new management, when they were the hottest thing around, they lost 7-0 to the Seattle Mariners, last in their division, in mid-August. I was in attendance with my dad, two of my dad's friends, and my best friend Brian Derosa. The Red Sox never got past second base. The seats cleared out real quick. Brian and I amused ourselves by running around from seat to seat and throwing things into the Mariners bullpen.
Anyway, jump ahead 16 years to the 2004 season, and here we are again. Unhappy players begat mid-season changing of squad begat really long winning streak and chance of actually winning the division. The Mariners are last in their division. And yet here we are, the biggest story in baseball yet again, and it's the 8th inning, and we're getting mowed down by somebody named Bobby Madritsch, and again, it's 7-0. It brought back some weird flashbacks, let me tell you. Again the Mariners were like the little stoolie the Romans paid to follow their greatest generals around, repeating over and over again "You, too, are mortal. You, too, are mortal."
Because, we all know what happens when we get our hopes up. This chink in the armor probably won't prove fatal. The MFYankees seem to have weathered their 22-0 spanking pretty well. But if it does, there's always the Patriots.