I'll admit it: I had forgotten about Trot Nixon. Understand, there have also been moments I've forgotten about just about anybody on the Red Sox who doesn't take the mound, so mesmerizing has the pitching staff been this season.
But still, the moments I sat back in the heat of a mid-game moment and sorta wished Trot were here were, well, none. JD Drew is in a slump and overpaid, and I'd much rather have Trot on the outfield bench than Wily Mo, now that I really consider it. But overall, I hadn't really thought about him much, except when seeing him on the odd Sportscenter highlight, usually for good reasons, smiling for a moment and wishing him well.
Then yesterday when I saw him in the visitors' dugout giving his press conference, looking like he'd been extra careful to trim up that handlebar moustache nice for the occasion, all glowering brow and pug nose and aggressively short haircut, that's when I realized maybe I haven't been thinking about Trot much because shit gets a little rough when I do.
Trot talked about how fortunate he felt just to still be playing baseball after having back surgery in the offseason. You could tell there'd been some dark moments for him somewhere around November or so, but he seems genuinely recovered now. He doesn't seem the slightest bit bitter, though he does seem sad. He has been courteous in his return, never resentful, but in the end, he is Trot Nixon, and he has not pulled any punches. He has let his emotions show on his face as always, and it's like I wrote when we got the news he was gone for good, "I know baseball teams are businesses and not charity organizations, and that this was a necessary move, but...let's not pretend that on an emotional level this doesn't just suck, right out loud."
Kristen wrote a great post about the Return of the Trot, and the line that really hit home with me was, "Meanwhile, I don't even know what JD Drew's voice sounds like."
Ugh. You feel that? That dull little ache right in the pit of your stomach? There has been something missing, here, I can intellectually understand the reasons why that's the case, but let's just not bullshit ourselves over this on an emotional level. Because on that level, this still sucks.
Curt stepped back off the mound when Trot came to the plate. Trot lifted his pine-tar-smeared batting helmet and acknowledged the crowd. Then he turned to face Curt, and Curt climbed back up the mound to face him, and like it or not, the game goes on.
Trot got a hit in that first at-bat, on an abortive changeup Dennis Eckersley would later snortingly refer to as "a cookie". But in the end the Indians were shut down by Schilling, who racked up 10 strikeouts and no walks in a reassuring return to dominance after his struggles the last two weeks. Schilling, Javy Lopez and Jonathan Papelbon gave up one run apiece, while the Sox bats behind the hitting (and baserunning!) machine that is Kevin Youkilis racked up five. Trot had half-jokingly expressed the hope that the Indians sweep the Sox once the sentimentalities were over with, but I think the Red Sox are dead serious about kicking the asses of the Tribe for as long as they remain in town, and much as I still love Trot, I'm of course still siding with the laundry there.
I am still confused over one part of Jonathan Papelbon's ninth, meanwhile. Why was Casey Blake out? With the count according to NESN at 2-1, he half-swung and was half-beaned (if such a thing is possible) by a heater from Paps. After some argument, the umpires ruled that he had swung at the pitch, reversing their call of a HBP. But why was Blake out and not just back at the plate with 2 strikes? Either the NESN score ticker was behind on the balls and strikes just then or there's something I don't understand about the rule the umpires were referring to.
Beckett on the hill tonight. Once again I tortured coworkers and friends with Beckett-related babbling today. Let's hope the leprosy holds off for, hmm, how about 8 or so utterly dominant innings? That'd be just what the doctor ordered.