Games like yesterday's are queasy affairs. It can't be overlooked that the Sox could not, in the end, overcome a four-run train wreck of a second inning, and dropped two out of three to Seattle.
And I have to say, for what it's worth, that woeful catcher Miguel Olivo's infield gopher was the ugliest hit I've ever seen.
Per the Herald:
Olivo hit a slow chopper to the left side of the infield that charging third baseman Bill Mueller [stats, news] couldn't grab. Mueller overran the ball and second baseman Mark Bellhorn [stats, news], with shortstop Edgar Renteria [stats, news] covering third, raced over to back up the play. Bellhorn's throw to the plate was off the mark, allowing Boone to score the first run of the game. Willie Bloomquist and Randy Winn then sandwiched RBI doubles around Ichiro Suzuki's run-scoring groundout, allowing Seattle to pull ahead, 4-0.
Or, as my father put it, "There ya go, throw it around some. Oh, Jes--OH! Christ, it looks just like Little League."
But the strange thing about baseball is that sometimes wins feel like losses, and sometimes losses feel like wins. Yesterday's game, for me, was one of the latter.
Safeco Field, for whatever reason, always sets my synapses roaring. From the grand machinations of its retractable roof (closing, yesterday, after driving rain began to fall in earnest) to the mournful backdrop of trains passing nearby, it is a surprisingly rich environment for baseball even as a new, cookie-cutter mega-McPark.
And there was Miguel Olivo himself, in an 0 for 27 slump until yesterday, when he went 3 for 4 with a home run. Looking at him on the basepaths, you could see it was a struggle for him not to just jump up and down and scream. And Olivo's Amigos, Miguel's personal modest cheering section, reminded me of the die-hard Indians fans in the movie Major League.
But, of course, the great victory yesterday--one that, with any luck, will overshadow whether the game itself was a success--was Manny's 400th home run, a three-run jack to right-center that brought the Sox within a run.
My father and I have had a running argument about Manny for quite a while. Throughout the last few seasons, he has championed the "dirt dog" ways of Kevin Millar and dogged Manny whenever possible, sarcastically praising him when he makes a good play in the field, seething with righteous indignation when he doesn't.
I don't have particularly strong feelings either way, but I still think there's something deeply maladjusted about a person who'd take a lovable but eminently flawed first baseman over the World Series MVP and the best right-handed hitter in the game.
Yesterday, however, seemed a sea change in my father's fandom--he started saying things like, "You know, Manny's always quick with the ball out of his glove. He never seems to hold it very long out there. Gets it back quick.
"When he catches it, of course," he added quickly.
But at Manny's homer, he shouted, "Manuel! Never a doubt, buddy!"
"Buddy," is it. A far cry from his earlier Manny-endearment, which was "shithead."
And Millar? "Did you see the game that lardass Millar had the other night? It was awful. He took his foot off the friggin bag. How can you play first base if you take your foot off the friggin bag."
On the TV, Manny, his accomplishment beyond winning, losing, or fickle fandom, loped around the bases, a grin slowly spreading across his face.