Now that the Sox season is over, I'm thinking about things earlier this year than I have in the past. Pitchers and catchers. The hot stove. And by far the best thing that happens in baseball that doesn't actually happen on the field: Roger Angell's yearly wrap of the season in The New Yorker.
Since I have longer to wait than in previous years, I've decided to crack into the stack of Angell's books I'd been saving for the off-season, beginning with his first collected book, The Summer Game.
The problem with me reading Roger Angell is that I can't read more than two pages at the most, max, before I have to sort of put the book down and stare off into space. Roger Angell is just too good a writer. I can't handle him. Really. He blows me away. In thought and word, he's just a reminder of how good I'll never be--and how even if I ever got to be that good, it would already have been done.
Case in point: the three-paragraph, one-page introduction to The Summer Game.
These pieces cover a span of ten years, but this book is certainly not offered as a comprehensive baseball history of the period. Most of the great winning teams and a good many of the horrendous losers of the decade are here, while the middle ground is often sketchy. I have written about some celebrated players--Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson, Willie Mays--again and again, while slighting equally admirable figures such as Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle. It is unfair, but this book is the work of a part-time, nonprofessional baseball watcher. In most of these ten seasons, I was rarely able to attend as many as twenty-five games before the beginning of the World Series; I watched, or half-watched, a good many more on television. Enthusiasm and interest took me out to the ballpark; I never went out of a sense of duty or history. I was, in short, a fan. Unafflicted by daily deadlines or the weight of objectivity, I have been free to write about whatever I found in the game that excited or absorbed or dismayed me--and free, it will become evident, to draw large and sometimes quite mistaken conclusions from an emaciated body of evidence. I have added some updating and footnotes in an attempt to cover up the worst mistakes.
When I began writing sports pieces for The New Yorker, it was clear to me that the doings of big-league baseball--the daily happenings on the field, the managerial strategies, the celebration of heroes, the medical and financial bulletins, the clubhouse gossip--were so enormously reported in the newspapers that I would have to find some other aspect of the game to study. I decided to sit in the stands--for a while, at least--and watch the baseball from there. I wanted to concentrate not just on the events down on the field but on their reception and results; I wanted to pick up the feel of the game as it happened to the people around me. Right from the start, I was terribly lucky, because my first year or two in the seats behind first or third coincided with the birth and grotesque early sufferings of the Mets, which turned out to be the greatest fan story of all.
Then I was lucky in another way. In time, I made my way to the press box and found friends there, and summoned up the nerve to talk to some ballplayers face-to-face, but even with a full set of World Series credentials flapping from my lapel, I was still faking it as a news reporter. Writing at length for a leisurely and most generous weekly magazine, I could sum things up, to be sure, and fill in a few gaps that the newspapermen were too hurried or too cramped for space to explore, but my main job, as I conceived it, was to continue to try to give the feel of things--to explain the game of baseball as it happened to me, at a distance and in retrospect. And this was the real luck, for how could I have guessed then that baseball, of all team sports anywhere, should turn out to be so complex, so rich and various in structure and aesthetics and emotion, as to convince me, after ten years as a writer and forty years as a fan, that I have not yet come close to its heart?
If there's any Yankee I might actually be able to tolerate, it's Mariano Rivera. I'll admit part of the appeal is that he's helped the Yankees lose in three significant instances in recent memory, twice to us, but there's something else about him that appeals to me. He seems...small and quiet.
Tonight, with Vladimir Guerrerro at bat with two outs in the ninth, the strangest thing happened to Mariano Rivera's face. Where other pitchers might be dropping one in their drawers facing Guerrerro (and who can blame them), he seemed to relax immediately on seeing him step into the box.
"He's got him," I said to Steve, shaking my head as Vladdy fouled off tough pitches. "You can see in his face. He's got him."
You could. As soon as he saw Guerrerro, his face...he could see the finish line. He looked like he was looking right through Guerrerro toward...I'm not sure. But he looked like he was watching something nobody else could see.
If I were a bigger person, a better fan, maybe, ooh, that old bugaboo "classy"--I'd admit that the Yankees' victory over the Angels tonight was a beautiful game, tight as a drum, a lovely exhibition.
I'm not. But I'll say this: watching Mariano Rivera tonight, I can't say I know how we beat him.
It's already the 15th inning when I check on the Astros / Braves game. Oddly enough, I've been hungry for baseball after the Sox lost--any baseball playoff. I haven't come close to wearing out my allotted stamina for postseason baseball, of course--not after I'd braced myself for another sleep-deprived October.
I started rooting for the Astros last year when I heard the story of Brandon Backe, a native of Galveston who grew up a die-hard Astros fan, idolizing Jeff Bagwell (himself a native of Boston) and Craig Biggio. They would both wind up being his teammates, and the idea of this hometown kid leading his team to their first victory in a postseason series ever, playing alongside his childhood heros...who can beat a story like that?
In the bottom of the 15th, after a perfect sacrifice bunt by Roger Clemens to send Craig Biggio to second base, with Chris Burke at the plate, Morgan Ensberg stands on deck--no one's driven in more runs for the Astros, according to the announcers.
The guy on second base--Craig Biggio--no one's scored more runs for the Astros.
The light-hitting Burke walks, but Ensberg grounds into a double play, and we're coming up on being tied, inningswise, for the longest postseason game in history - 16 innings (it's long since blown by last year's ALCS Games 4 and 5, at 12 and 14 innings respectively).
The Astros played that game, too--in 1986, against the Mets. And they lost. Something you don't have to explain to Boston fans...
Today, Backe started the game. Last year, he was on the mound for their clinch, also against Atlanta, and today, he took the ball for his hometown club again, and put up the following line:
Lance Burkett picked up Backe with a grand slam in the bottom of the 8th against Kyle Farnsworth to make it 6-5.
Brad Ausmus homered off the Farns in the bottom of the ninth to send it into extra innings.
Once he was lifted for Mike Gallo in the fifth, Backe never left one spot on the dugout fence, where he screamed, chattered rapid-fire, and chewed his gum for all he was worth. Brandon Backe. You can't beat a story like that.
Here we are in the 16th, and Roger Clemens, slated to be tomorrow's starter, comes on in relief. His first hitter, Julio Franco (the only player on the field more senior than Roger), thinks he has ball four on the Rocket, but it's called strike three. Franco goes nose to nose with the umpire, but is pulled away by a teammate, and not ejected.
Roger strikes out rookie phenom Jeff Francoeur swinging, and gets Ryan Langerhans to fly out to right center. Old age and treachery will beat youth and skill.
Last year, by the time the 'stros were losing to the Cardinals in an epic NLCS, I was totally consumed in other matters, as you may imagine.
Today, with my newfound free time, once the Patriots were done playing, I turned this game on.
Until today, I was still undecided about who I'll root for hardest in the rest of the baseball postseason--the only other time I've had to choose that, it's been a no-brainer: the Florida Marlins in the 2003 World Series, which I didn't watch, anyway. This year, I think it's the White Sox' year, but do they then need another person on the bandwagon? Rooting for the Angels is kind of a no-brainer, since they're playing the Yankees, but I want to pick a team I can root for all the way, and if they beat the Yankees, I'd be done with them.
Roger's second inning of relief opens with a quick groundout and then a double for Brian Jordan. It ends with a swing and a miss by Marcus Giles on a 3-2 count.
Plus, rooting for the Angels just because they're playing the Yankees in the first round is...it just seems petty, and frankly, I'm sick of the Yankees, I'm sick of thinking about them, I'm sick of arguing with their fans, I'm sick of hearing about them.
Watching the National League has been much more relaxing--because I don't give a crap, basically. Last year I went with the 'stros; this year they're easy to pick back up (especially since I got nary a glimpse of the Padres, and the Braves and Cardinals aren't really my style). Backe's still there, still as charming as ever (even if he's fairly mediocre in the actual pitching department). I still think Roger's an asshole, but he's easier to take out of pinstripes, he's one of the greatest of all time, and I've got to admit there's a part of me that's never forgotten how much I adored him when he played for Boston. I never had as much of a personal problem with Andy Pettitte as other Yankees, and the two of them, out to pasture in the country after their years in the Big City, the way they're totally hetero life partners, is kind of cute.
As we head to the eighteenth, the announcers are saying that in both minute-by-minute time and innings, it's the longest postseason game ever.
Essentially, even though this series will have another game left if the Astros lose, it's a Game 6 in 1986 situation--the Astros must win this game today. They have home field advantage right now, and after their insurgence in the later innings, they must close the deal. The longer this game goes, the more the Astros wear down their pitching staff and position players, the more this becomes certain.
The Astros looked weak in the 17th. Atlanta may yet walk away with this arm-wrestling match; it would be huge for them.
Atlanta threatens in the top of the 18th when Andruw Jones gets on after backup stortstop Jose Vizcaino one-hops a throw to first, where Raul Chavez (their backup catcher) boots it, but they go nowhere.
In the bottom of the 18th, Chris Burke, a .239 hitter this season, hits a Boone-like game-winning walkoff against the Braves' Joey Devine, making Roger Clemens the winner while Minute Maid shakes and shudders with the cheers of the crowd and the pile of men in their maroon shirts jumps in unison on the plate.
Is this what baseball's like for, you know...normal people? Hooray for the Astros. Good for the Astros. And that's all there is to it. If this had been a Red Sox game, I'd be ready to sleep for a week. This game was great, to be sure, but I'm also starting to think about what else is on TV tonight, my work week ahead...In some ways, this is nice.
They interview Roger at the end of the game, but he ducks out of it quickly, moving away from the blonde reporter and pointing to Burke, almost young enough to be his son.
Adam and leave again. Three point margin against a Vick-less Atlanta team.
The fourth quarter was excruciating. Especially the series that began with the Patriots at their own 21 with 14:16 left in the game. The Pats moved the chains once, and got up to to the 40.
Tom Brady, out of the shotgun, completed a 15-yard pass to Ben Watson at the Atlanta 45. First down.
Then the CBS graphic flashed, below the score: "FLAG".
Pass interference, offense, number 84. Ten yard penalty, repeat third down.
Here we go again.
This is the kind of moment where it doesn't matter how many Super Bowls we've won or how many injuries we're dealing with or what the rest of the outlook looks like for the season or what anyone else thinks about Tom Brady. He lines up under center--surrounded on his offensive line by an alarming amount of rookies, but no matter--and you flat out expect him to come through. Just do it, enough of this shit. Just get the first down. Just get it done.
Defensive off-side on the next snap. Five yards. For some reason, 3rd and 13 looks a lot more manageable than 3rd and 18.
They line up again on the 35. Brady completes another pass to Deion Branch, this time at the Atlanta 47, for the first down.
When the "FLAG" comes up again, I lose my shit.
Funny how I can be on such an even keel with the Red Sox' loss to the White Sox, and so broken up about this. Transference? Maybe. But I'm less accustomed to disappointment with the Patriots. I'm less forgiving about a single game in a week, as opposed to the long grind of 162 games and multiple series, which not only expose but hammer away at multiple flaws. I'm used to the Patriots stepping up and getting things done despite injuries and inexperience. Unlike the Red Sox, who lost their two most essential players this season in Schilling and Foulke, for the Patriots, Bill Belichik is still on the sideline. Tom Brady is still under center. Unlike the White Sox, the Falcons suck, especially without Vick.
It's always easier to lose to a flat-out better team than to get caught in a nailbiter, losing, whether it's on plays, drives, or games, on stupid, careless mistakes.
And if we reach the end of the season and this Pats team has continued to struggle, but makes the playoffs anyway, only to lose to, say, the Steelers in the divisional game and the game is never close...well, we'll talk then about whether my reaction is different. Just like my reaction would probably have been different if Foulke / Schilling had gotten their shit together, or if a hero had risen out of the bullpen halfway through the season, and the Sox had won the division handily and then lost to a White Sox team without their best pitcher, 3 games to none.
Look, it might not make sense to you, but it does to me.
For now, Patriots-wise, there's still a chance to turn this ship around. There's still the possibility that the Patriots can still pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Therefore, in this situation, I simply expect results. Does that make me entitled? I guess. If it's gauche to be dismayed over that flag coming up after the SECOND time they got the first down, only to have it pulled back AGAIN, then I'm guilty as charged. I'm classless. I'm greedy. I want to kill Logan Mankins.
His holding penalty, enforced at the New England 35, puts the Pats all the way back to just 4 yards above where they started after the last punt. Patrick Pass has to break off a 13-yard run just to get New England's own punting unit back to the 38, where the entire third-down debacle began.
In the end, both an Atlanta scoring drive and two-point conversion work, and the Patriots end up with eleven penalties for 83 yards. Just a couple more, and they could've given up an entire field length to penalties! That is a hateful stat, and fair or not, it makes me mad at the Patriots.
Like Bill Belichik said in the postgame, "don't tell us about injuries." Either we're the better team, or we're not, this season. We head into Denver just one game above .500 after making a game that should've been a gift win into a nailbiter. A win is a win is a win, but today has not given me much cause for future optimism.
Check out Chan-Ho Park laying down a fucking flying karate kick. And the sound from the booth: "Haii!!"
You also gotta love Nolan Ryan grabbing a charging hitter in a headlock, and delivering punch after punch after punch with his pitching hand, as the announcer puts it, "as if he was bad meat needing to be tenderized". Ryan gets extra points for being probably 44 years old at the time.
But by far the best clip on here is Pedro vs. Gerald Williams in Tampa Bay. The title belt of this entire tournament goes to Jason Varitek, who lays out Williams shortly after he charges Pedro with a hit that would make Ray Lewis proud.
Johnny Damon's strikeout in the bottom of the sixth with the bases loaded--following on a Tony Graffanino pop-out and a Jason Varitek pop-out, also with the bags juiced--was emblematic for our entire season. Potential squandered. They could never quite get it together. We waited for the offense to come through, and it never came.
What may be emblematic for the White Sox was a play in the first inning. With Johnny Damon on base, David Ortiz hit a line drive toward center field, right up the middle. It was such a sure-thing base hit I could already see it bouncing toward Aaron Rowand.
But then, ridiculously, inexplicably, Juan Uribe was there. He gloved it, sending Ortiz packing; then, insult to injury, he doubled Johnny Damon off at second.
That's the kind of play--like Tony Clark's ground rule double, like Mark Bellhorn's ground-rule-called-a-home-run--that happens only to the champ, and it's the kind of metaphysical magic the White Sox have had going for them all season long. I don't usually pay attention to anything Beyond I-495, but I've had at least one eye on the pale hose all year. I've predicted since early in the season that this was their year, and also predicted that the Red Sox would meet and be defeated by them in the postseason. I thought that meeting would come in the ALCS, and I didn't predict it would be so lopsided, but in many ways, it's still appropriate.
Think of last year. A team that's going to win the World Series has to "get hot at the right time". They have to have a momentum build up that is truly monstrous to behold. Witness us steamrollering the Angels last season in a Division Series so uncompetitive it felt like a strange prologue to the postseason, rather than part of it. The Red Sox of this year--tired, tattered, ragtag, existing possibly more on the adrenaline from last season than on any true solidity as a team--were absolutely no match for the roaring, hungry, momentum-filled eventual World Champs. Absolutely not. The only reason we didn't go further is because we met them too soon.
I talk about this in the past tense, like it's already happened, but in my mind, it might as well have. The Chicago White Sox are your 2005 World Champs, folks. You heard it here first. I've believed that since July, and believe it so strongly now that it might as well be a done deal.
It only makes sense. They last won a postseason series--forget about the World Series--in 1917. Hmm.
Edgar Renteria made the last out, on a ground ball up the middle (to second this time, not to the pitcher).
Those locals must not have been watching last year, when we saw firsthand, time and time again, how pitching and defense win championships. They must also not have been watching this year, when they would have seen we had neither the pitching, or the defense.
Frankly, I think at this point that the media are writing the stories they wish they could write, rather than the actual stories that are out there. From what I've seen of my fellow fans this season, especially this postseason, most may not be happy about the Red Sox not going further, but it's nowhere near the anguish of seasons past. You want proof? Look no further than the applause and encouragement for Tony Graffanino when he returned to Boston yesterday. Contrast that, in turn, with the reception for the last man to let a ground ball through his legs in the postseason.
Because, come on. Let's get real. The Red Sox have now made the playoffs in three straight seasons for the first time in team history. And they did so this year with a team that, realistically, had no business being there (as we've seen). They did so with two of last year's horses crippled and / or absent. They did so with the 29th-ranked bullpen in the majors. To even get to the postseason after what's happened this year--much of which has been beyond anyone's control--takes guts and sheer determination we should admire, regardless of how it all turned out. I would venture a guess that no other team in the league right now would even make the playoffs if they went through what the Sox did this season--let alone for the third season in a row, after having made it to the threshold of the pennant one year, and won the World Series in the next.
Add to that the fact that between losing many of the key figures in the World Series run last year and the as-yet underdevelopment of key up-and-comers (Papelbon in '06!), this year by rights should have been a garbage year. Many would argue that it was. But in my mind, this is a hell of an overachievement for a transition year, and I salivate with anticipation over the next three or so seasons if this is how this season turned out.
Mike (auteur of "Red Sux", linked above) points out that the Sox are just the sixth defending champ team to be swept in their first postseason series the next season, and apparently has stood back to wait for Sox Nation to rend our garments, gnash our teeth and tear our hair for his entertainment. But what he doesn't mention is how many other defending champs don't have a postseason series in the next season at all.
Last I checked, the Arizona Diamondbacks weren't contenders in 2002. The most recent World Series winners to make the playoffs, the Diamondbacks, were also swept, three games to none. The Angels in 2003 and Marlins in 2004 did not make the playoffs. Looking back on the list of World Series winners, you see few repeat names on there at all, much less repeat names in the winners' column (the exception, of course, being those assholes to our south and the 1991-1992 Toronto Blue Jays). After not winning for so long that a mythology of a curse developed, we were expecting to go back to back? Is that what we're supposed to be disappointed and stunned and devastated by? That their first postseason series as defending champs was "lopsided"?
Once again, Red Sox Nation is completely misunderstood by others. For the record, guys, I don't think we have the capacity for that kind of ingratitude. You may be thinking of Yankees fans.
Because, hey, let's take the worst case scenario right now--the one proffered to Bill Simmons last season by an out-of-town fan that if the Red Sox won, they'd be just another team that had won recently and that nobody cares about, like the Twins. This was meant to be a dire prediction of future gloom, doom, and, I guess, un-specialness, but I'll say something to the effect of what Simmons said: I'll take it. I'll take it in a heartbeat. You mean I don't have to pay you so I can take it?
Through all these previous struggles, there was one constant in the New England secondary: Rodney Harrison. He was the only defender to start all 41 games the Patriots have played from the beginning of the 2003 season through Week Three of 2005.
In 2003 and 2004, he recorded 264 tackles, more than any other defensive back in football. And he was arguably the MVP of the 2004 playoffs (scroll to the bottom of this story), forcing six turnovers in three games and returning an interception for a touchdown while recording one sack and a team-leading 27 tackles. Not too shabby for three games of work.
Throughout his career, Harrison has recorded more sacks than any defensive back in NFL history (27.5), and he’s the only player in the history of the league with more than 25 sacks and 30 INTs (31) to his credit.
Then on Sunday, in New England’s first game without Harrison as a starter since 2002, the Patriots not only suffered a loss, they suffered a loss of historical magnitude:
The 41-17 smackdown at Gillette Stadium ended one of the longest home win streaks in NFL history. The Patriots lost suffered a home loss on Dec. 22, 2002, a stretch of 21 games and 1,015 days.
New England last surrendered 41 points in the middle of the Pete Carroll Era, in a 41-10 home loss to Atlanta in 1998.
You have to go back 12 years, to the dawn of the Bill Parcells Era, to find the last game the Patriots surrendered more than 41 points. In September 1993, the N.Y. Jets slaughtered New England, 45-7.
Of course, the defeat may have been a long time coming. In fact, since white-washing Indy in the 2004 postseason, the New England defense has yet to truly shut down another opponent. The Patriots have now allowed six straight opponents to score 20 or more points on it – Pittsburgh (27) in the AFC title game, Philly (21) in Super Bowl XXXIX and the first four opponents of 2005 (Oakland, 20; Carolina, 27; Pittsburgh, 20; San Diego, 41).
How bad is that streak? Consider this: Even the 1990 New England Patriots, who went 1-15 and hold the distinction of being the worst team in franchise history, never allowed six straight opponents to score 20 or more points.
Patriots (+3) over FALCONS Not only did I have the Falcons penciled in for the pick here, I even was ready to write the obligatory "Sometimes you can just lose too many key guys/not even Belichick can overcome this" pseudo-obituary for the 2005 Pats ... and then Brady flew off the handle in Wednesday's news conference. As my buddy Bug later said, "It's like Brady was daring everyone to pick the Falcons. He was daring them."
(By the way, the Bug will be wagering on the champs this weekend. And so will I.)
OK, now I had to hear this press conference. I went over to Patriots.com, where they ever-so-conveniently archive transcripts and audio from the conference. I browsed the transcript. Nothing seemed too off, there. So I listened to the audio.
His voice is calm, his phrasing measured as usual. In the beginning.
It starts with an uncharacteristic complaint. "I hate this microphone."
Someone starts waxing rhapsodic about DeAngelo Hall. The answer's a little short. "Yeah, he's a good player. (pause) He's a good player."
"...Coach Belichick and that's who I listen to. So when he tells us something, that is who I listen to. Pretty much anyone else other than that, I could care really less about." An edge in the voice.
Michael Vick..."He is a great player. I'll leave it at that [laughter]".
I'm waiting, here, for a flip out. A Bill-Parcells type lashing out. Hostility. Subtlety...a little edge, a little cattiness. But to be honest, this is pretty low-key. Maybe I'm listening to the wrong one, but "flying off the handle"?
I don't see it.
And yet here come the pundits. Simmons: "Brady flying off the handle". Mark Farinella of the Houston Sun-Chronicle: "Apparently, the Patriots' quarterback trained both barrels of Wednesday's verbal assault upon San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer..." Jim Rome: "Tom Brady melted down on Marty Schottenheimer after the Chargers hammered the Patriots.."
This is what was said:
Q: I think you were referring to what [Marty] Schottenheimer said after the game. But he wasn't saying in any way that the Patriots can't win. He was just saying that every team faces a point at which when you lose a lot of good players at what point does it catch up to you?
TB: I just assumed you talk about your own team. You don't talk about our team. He has no business talking about our team. He's not our coach. We'll let our coach talk about our team. We'll let our players talk about our team. The only thing we ever do is give respect to the other teams because that's what they deserve. They played a good game. They beat us. That's what it is - no more, no less - it's one game. There's not a lot of carry over from week-to-week. We played much better against Pittsburgh than we did against San Diego. It doesn't mean we're going to play this way against Atlanta. If we do play that way, it will be tough. But that is not the way we are approaching it. It's a new week. We're done with San Diego and moving on to Atlanta, as we should be.
Perhaps a bit edgier than Brady normally is, but if you listen to the audio or watch it, his demeanor isn't much different from usual...I was thinking of a Curt Schilling "Butch Slap": "a stupid, idiotic comment to make!!!" But this...this guy should run for office, if that's him "flying off the handle".
Rome also takes Brady's words in a completely different context from how I heard it on a later question:
Q: Does it motivate you as a team leader to stand up and say, 'We're the Patriots?'
TB: It depends who's saying it. You have to have some credibility for it to mean anything. I think you have to look at the source and you realize how credible it is and if the person really knows what they're talking about. I think someone who is very credible is Coach Belichick and that's who I listen to. So when he tells us something, that is who I listen to. Pretty much anyone else other than that, I could care really less about.
It's easy to see it being taken as a shot against Schottenheimer, but what I took it to mean in the context of the interview was that as far as standing up and saying "We're the Patriots", it depends on who, among the players on the team, is saying it to his teammates. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how I heard it.
In fairness, Rome goes on to say:
Wow! Not exactly inflammatory stuff. I think Brady is circling the wagons, ‘we’re hurting, people are coming for us, we just got rolled…at home!’
Brady wants to light a little fire…he’s much too smart, much too cool, and doesn’t say or do things in the heat of the moment. That was not a heat of moment, half cocked, I’m pissed, I’m going to blow up Marty Schotteheimer statement. That was calculated, had a purpose and intent…everything he does is!
SOXFAN is pacing back and forth in the small living room of the apartment. Near the TV, it looks like the entire DVD collection has been hastily ransacked of its numerous sports videos, which have then been removed from their cases, switched into other cases, and then collectively hurled in the general direction of the entertainment center.
NESN's Faith Rewarded is playing as SOXFAN paces, chugging Pepto-Bismol, clutching her stomach and groaning.
PATSFAN stumbles in from the bedroom, yawning. She's wearing an oversized Tedy Bruschi jersey and loose-fitting drawstring shorts.
The two encounter each other for a moment, both freezing in position. They nod to each other, and PATSFAN hits the head. She comes back and watches SOXFAN continue to pace, and then regards the 2004 World Series footage on the screen briefly.
PATSFAN: So. How's it going.
SOXFAN: (breathlessly) Good. You?
PATSFAN: (deadpan) Well. We've got a .500 record and we're lucky to have that. Matt Light's season is over. Rodney Harrison's career may be over. We've lost the majority of defensive backs, now, as well as both our coordinators and two of our veteran offensive linemen. Meanwhile, we're going through the toughest 6 game opening stretch of any team in the history of the NFL, and we've already lost as many games in four weeks as we did all last season. Let's see, what else. We were blown out by the San Diego Chargers, 34-17, last Sunday, and Richard Seymour was hurt. Basically, all there is down in Foxboro right now are Tom Brady, Bill Belichik, Adam Vinatieri, and what so far looks to be a pile of smoking wreckage.
SOXFAN: Last Sunday...
PATSFAN: Yeah. So what are you up to?
SOXFAN: (guiltily) Waiting for tonight.
PATSFAN: It's just after noon.
SOXFAN gives her a blank look.
PATSFAN: Never mind.
Just then, a stranger appears in their midst, from the kitchen, holding a beer, wearing a backwards black hat. She's wearing a gigantic white, black and gold jersey with an ornate "B" on the front. PATSFAN AND SOXFAN look at her, stunned.
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