Snowed in today, I've spent most of my time watching the 2004 World Series (still so glad I purchased the box set for just this type of occasion...I may start taping random games this season, too). And I've found that there are few things I still just cannot get over: Mark Bellhorn's booming home run and Manny's divot in Game 1; Jason Varitek's triple and of course Schilling's blood and guts in Game 2; Jeff Suppan's running error and Trot Nixon's slip n slide in right field in Game 3; The delirious euphoria of the end of Game 4. Watching the World Series takes me at half again as long as it should, given the number of times I have to rewind and watch the same little snippets over and over again.
But most of all, I cannot get over what Keith Foulke did--or that he did NOT get the MVP for his efforts.
I've been told pitchers are hardly ever named the MVP--chicks dig the long ball and the league likes to make hitters its poster children. Most of the time there's another great reason for this--hitters are the ones playing every game. Pitchers hardly ever really make a difference in more than one game of the Series.
Except in this case. In fact, I don't know if there has ever been a clearer exception to that rule: Foulke was a machine, a rock upon which the entire rest of the team rested when push came to shove. He pitched every bit as much as the starters when all was said and done, but spread his innings over nearly every single game of the postseason--for him, there were no days to sit back near the Gatorade cooler and cheer his teammates. He had to be on call to walk his tightrope in an airtight situation every single night for two solid weeks.
You think that's something to be taken for granted? Ask Mariano Rivera.
Manny, meanwhile, didn't have a single RBI until the Series got started; Manny committed errors in matched two-piece sets; Manny cost the team at least as much as he achieved for it. Including an inning in Game 1 in which Keith Foulke, with the bases loaded following a double-error special by Manny, got the crucial strikeout and saved everybody's ass. Including. Manny's.
He was on the mound when the last out was recorded--and recorded it, underhanding that precious ball to Mientkiewicz and securing the sweep despite being the worst fielding pitcher on the team (and replays show that he very nearly missed Renteria's chopping grounder). He is forever the face of that final out, that moment we had never experienced. His name is part of the catchphrase of the moment--"Back to Foulke."
You think that's something to be taken for granted? Ask Calvin Schiraldi. Ask Bob Stanley.
Keith Foulke was that World Series for the Red Sox--more so than any other player, pitcher or otherwise. The more I watch it, the more I realize the myriad ways in which this was true. I don't think I'll ever accept that he wasn't recognized in the way he deserved.
P.S. Watching this series again, I find myself deeply aggrieved by the sight of Bill Mueller. I am going to miss him so, so terribly--and it may not even fully hit me till midseason, that he's actually gone.
P.P.S. I also find I now cannot stop singing "Kiko, Kiko Calero" to the tune of "Copacabana".
I'm not gonna lie to you people, it's getting pretty ugly with me.
I think it's because the baseball season ended last year earlier than it has in two years, and now the football season ended earlier than it has in two years, and the double-whammy has me feeling like clawing at my face at this point.
I try hard not to think about baseball. I try not to think, when the fiancee and I are bickering over what to watch--another rerun of CSI or some nature documentary on penguins--for another night, that the entire argument would be moot if it were 7 pm on a night in April or May or June and we could just flip to NESN, no questions necessary. I try not to think about Papi digging in at the plate or how Schilling's going to do this year or if Keith Foulke will be his 2004 self ever again, because it just makes me emit a high-pitched whining sound that irritates everyone in my general vicinity. Except, of course, for the other baseball junkies doing a similar thing.
Flapping my gums around the water cooler about Roger isn't going to scratch the itch (if anything, it just makes me more aggravated, because it's the kind of shit people only really get interested in when there is nothing else to think about). My frequent verbal tussles with a Cubs fan coworker only fan the flames. I've thought about reading some of my Roger Angell books, but have stayed away from that out of fear I might literally cry.
There's a hole in my life right now, and it's called baseball. Not off-season drama or hot stove trade talks, I mean real, actual baseball. The routine--a game every night for the home team, two if you've got the MLB.com hooked up. The lovely rhythm of the Rem-Dawg and Orsillo or Castiglione and co.
I miss the body language of baseball players--the way they fidget with batting gloves or blow air out through their lips slowly waiting for a pitch to be delivered. I miss the way they kick the dirt, all of them, pitchers, batters, outfielders, bored infielders, swipe their feet in the dirt, or stub their toes into it, or dig rivets with their heels, or just brush their cleats back and forth, kicking up dust. I'd give anything right now just to watch one of our new Sox players kick the dirt in the batters' box. I'm sure they do it in a way not quite like the players I'd gotten to know.
I'm so homesick for baseball that I watched Game 6 again on Saturday, just to see the ballplayers moving. I can't get enough of the way baseball players move.
The ten or so days until pitchers and catchers might as well be a decade today.
Submitted for your approval: a new rule, that no media outlet, blog or otherwise, shall report or speculate on the acquisition of one William Roger Clemens by the Boston Red Sox Baseball Club until such time as an actual contractual agreement of this nature is formally announced.
The worst thing about yesterday wasn't the tearful Bill Cowher hoisting the Lombardi Trophy aloft. It wasn't the repeated tearjerker segments on the Bus and how apparently his team should win the Super Bowl because everyone likes him. It wasn't even when Steelers fans booed Tom Brady at the coin toss (hate to say it as a hardcore Jeter boo-er, but it only confirms Brady's stature to boo him when he's not even playing in the game). It was that my father--the man who taught me everything I know about football--was rooting for the Steelers.
I couldn't understand it. I still don't understand it. My dad and I bickered nonstop throughout the game. We rubbed successes for the Steelers and Hawks, respectively, in each others' faces when not stuffing our own with egg rolls and chicken wings. I still don't get how he, as a Patriots fan, could have rooted for Pittsburgh; he didn't get what my problem is with Pittsburgh; I found myself unable to really articulate why I couldn't root for the Steelers; probably the only worse scenario would have been watching my dad root for the Colts.
It was terrible. I'm not going to lie to you--I went to bed last night a little pissed off. Not at my dad, but at...well, everything.
"Hey, the Patriots can't win it every year," my fiancee told me gently before I went to bed.
"That's bullshit!" I hollered.
Yep. There it is. My mature, rational football philosophy.
Yeah, when you get right down to it, my problem with Pittsburgh winning stems from the fact that I pretty much can't stand anyone insinuating, implying, or outright saying that any of the current NFL quarterbacks are equal to or greater than Brady. That's pretty much the chief reason I hate Peyton Manning (other than his being an asshead, of course--but to be realistic, that just makes hating him easier and more convenient for me). And it's basically the reason I dislike (hate is a strong word I reserve for the Mannings) Roethlisberger. I hear the comparisons between Roethlisberger as a rookie and Brady when he first started his NFL career, and my skin crawls.
When Roethlisberger connected with Hines Ward at the 3 just before the Steelers' first touchdown, and my dad said "Wow...that was Brady-like," my head very nearly exploded.
Already today a coworker who is not a Steelers fan but a Patriots-hater has begun taunting me with "Brady's no longer the Golden Boy...Roethlisberger is a year younger and better...Brady's no longer the Golden Boy..." and I'll admit that it doesn't make me feel like a great or mature person, but I am tempted to punch him in the face.
But I'm trying to let it be--because this is what happens when you love a team and their quarterback and you wear your loyalty to them on your sleeve (and on your cubicle walls, and on your desk in the form of a bobblehead doll, and on your car's bumper). In good times the naysayers are an annoyance; in bad times, when you don't have a comeback, they're a plague. But it's what happens. I don't have to like it, but I accept it--it's time for me to take some lumps, and I'll do it. I'm not going to try to wriggle out of it.
Still, I can tell already--it's gonna be one long-ass day.
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