"They broke his spirit!" Amy cried, her commentary on the current David Ortiz Steroid Libel of Aught Seven. "I cried when I read that article. I cried."
It's good to be with these people again.
We were discussing Ortiz, among other things, most of which I can't repeat here, over beers at Crossroads. Several of the message board crowd had come out to meet Iain today--aside from Amy, Iain and me, it was Emma, Jen, and Sam. We loitered at the bar for about five hours, at times being disruptive to parties around us (as is our way), but were watched over by an incredibly patient waitress, who let us linger and order round after round as long as we wanted.
Last night, after I picked him up at Logan and introduced him to the cultural-immersion experience of Friday-afternoon rush-hour traffic on Route 93, Iain got to watch NESN in high-def widescreen while it was still light out, all of which (combined with a reacquaintance with his old friend Sam Adams) conspired with jet lag to knock him out cold by the time Hazel Mae came on to preview Sports Desk. Without tickets to games Friday and today, and staying outside the city, he's getting to see the Sox in a different, new way, the way it is in daily life rather than in a big, pre-planned trip packed with games at the park and tourist traps (like when I dragged him literally all over Boston that fateful day last May, determinedly going through the entire Freedom Trail route while all along all he wanted was a Dunkin' Donuts fruit smoothie, poor man).
When I picked him up today, I took him directly back to a spot by the side of the road on the way I'd come, where there was a baseball game being played in the morning sunshine.
We watched the kids play for a bit. It was tough to tell their ages; they weren't tiny, but they weren't seniors in high school, either. Their mechanics were serious, their play silent but for the ping of a metal bat and faint scuffling of cleats on the basepaths. They were kids who were serious about playing baseball--you could tell in their body language, despite the fact that one of the plays we saw involved a runner reaching third base safely on a pop-up to shallow right field.
Then we took off for Brookline, where we paid a visit to some of my friends so they could meet the "Brenchman", and after that is when we wound up at Crossroads.
Somewhere in the midst of all that, the Red Sox played two games.
Far be it from me to complain about a loss when they've been so infrequent, but it was a frustrating loss last night. Poor Wily Mo, back in the doghouse again. The sarcastic cheers were savage after his two tough errors in right field. And how about hard-luck Julian? The victim, once again, of bad defense and poor run support.
However, our woes were soothed to some extent by Papelbon Therapy, a stroke of genius from NESN in which Papelbon was outfitted with a mic during batting practice and turned loose to initiate inane conversations. It has been determined that I just plain love big dumb pitchers from way down South. It also helps, according to Sam and Amy's assessment, if they have large heads.
And so for me, the conversation about "emphatic" between Tito, Beckett and Papelbon was an instant classic. "Hay," Papelbon can be heard hailing Tito, that "hay" being the way he begins all his sentences. "What have you got on this?" As if Tito has any idea what he's talking about. Somehow even more lovable than that, however, is the way Tito looks at Jonathan as he approaches, cocking his head with a look of pure adoration. As you would, if you were being approached by Jonathan Papelbon.
"You would never use a word in a sentence that you couldn't, like, spell, wouldja?" Papelbon asks Tito.
At this, Beckett, who is standing nearby, first decides to go on the offensive, barking, "that's mah rule, you can't tell everybody mah rule." He doffs his cap and rubs his hands through his hair in exasperation.
Then, as the argument goes on, deciding to just confront the situation, he admits to Tito, "Ah sed 'infatic' when ah meant 'emphatic', er whatever..."
Tito glances back and forth from one of his young fireballers to the other, frantically searching for an appropriate response, sputtering, "So...okay...what's your point?"
Gold. Solid gold. Somebody make it so I can put that video clip on my iPod. Please. Also, I have yet to see the "Rising Sun" segment or the Papelbon / Timlin wager negotiations I've heard about. Why these are not on NESN's website, I couldn't possibly tell you.
Today, Curt was solid until the 6th inning, when some among us felt we saw Tito fall off the wagon, dip-wise. It got that bad. Curt's appearance ended when he threw a tantrum at the home plate umpire about the relative outside-ness of a pitch, which became ball 3, and was followed by ball 4, to walk a run home. After that, Schilling was lifted, his mental fuses blown.
But then, somehow, the Sox bats got down to serious business, launching a nine-run aerial assault in the late innings. Jonathan started throwing his first soft warmup tosses in the seventh with the score 5-4, Red Sox. By the time the inning was at a close, the score was was 8-4, Red Sox, and I was begging the powers that be to put Jonathan back now, because I don't want them to use him if they don't have to. In fact, I would advocate we cryogenically freeze Jonathan between save opportunities, and barring that, we at least pack him in a crate full of styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap.
By the time he came in, the score was 13-4, Sox. But with the way the Sox stomped all over the Blue Jays, he hadn't worked in quite a while, and so he was sent out just to keep himself sharp against the hapless Orioles. He did seem to have his good stuff today, still staying conservative on the heat, but I am starting to believe that it's purposeful. Right now he's hovering around 94 with decent movement and nice location. His splitter was also particularly devastating today; he used it to strike out Nick Markakis looking to open the ninth. He even seemed to have a little fire going in his eyes, somehow, after blowing away his first batter. Maybe he was just pretending Markakis was Vladi Guerrerro. Who knows what lurks in the mind of The Papelbon?
Until NESN finally gives the people what they want, which is the "Jonathan Papelbon Talks About Shit for an Hour Show," we'll never know*. Kristen is currently threatening to organize a letter-writing campaign. I've told her I'd be up for it.
And while I'm at it, enough with Ken Macha, ok? It's not funny anymore. Where's Eckersley? He'd better be calling the shots tomorrow with Joshie going for #8.