(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren/ESPN.com)
Apparently Remy and Orsillo were doing doughnuts at high speed last night in some parking lot near the stadium? Is that what I'm to gather from some inane conversation early on in the game? What really cracked me up, though, was how initially the breathless retelling of an action-packed story dissolved into debate over which ordeal was worse, Orsillo's high-speed garage gut-check or Remy's terror-filled ride with NASCAR.
"Tires...squealing!" Orsillo intoned in that vaguely dramatic way he has.
"I'm tellin' ya, I was goin' 175 miles an hour with a wall two inches from my face."
Everybody was in rare form today. I've belly-laughed less often at any number of summer "comedies" than I did at today's game.
For starters, Coco got run over by a reindeer between the fourth and fifth innings. Well, a moose, actually. A huge plush moose driving an ATV. We couldn't make this shit up. And then John Farrell went completely apeshit at the moose, and then the groundskeeper, and then pretty much whoever was listening.
I was wondering why it happened to be the pitching coach doing the honors of telling off the Mariners for their mascot's faux pas against the center fielder until I talked to my dad, who was at the game, on his annual away-game trip.
Before the game, he'd gone over to the bullpen to watch Joshie warm up, and of course nobody whatsoever bothered him the entire time. He snapped cell phone photos and batted the breeze with the other Red Sox carpetbagger-fans who made up the entirety of the bullpen audience. (Not that I'm insanely jealous or anything). I said, "You probably could've even talked to Josh a little bit."
"Well, when he came out everybody gave him a cheer."
"Did he respond?"
"He just took a swig of his water and spit it on the ground."
A bit later on, my dad said, a promotion going on at Safeco almost went horribly wrong. They were apparently letting some softball players hold a home-run derby before the game, while Beckett was in the bullpen warming up. "And I mean, they were launchin' em. Some of 'em hit softballs into the upper deck. It was unbelievable.
"But anyhow, one of the guys hit one into the bullpen and it came within three feet of hitting Josh while he was out there warming up."
"What the?" I cried.
"Yeah, John Farrell had to go out there and catch it, or knock it down, or whatever," my dad said.
Ah ha. I would imagine after Prince Joshua almost got conked in the squash with a softball, Farrell was probably already a little on-edge about the Safeco promotions' potential to do damage to the players.
You know I couldn't resist. "What'd Josh do?"
"Ah, he just took a swig of water and spit it on the ground."
You know, one theory I have filed away on the Enigma is that he's just an exceedingly poor communicator. For all we know, if we ascribe to the exceptionally-inarticulate theory, taking a swig of water and then spitting it on the ground actually means "Holy crap!" in Josh-language.
Another animal-related highlight of the game had to do with Manny Ramirez's home run celebration, which directly preceded the mascot v. Coco incident in the fourth. After Manny jerked one to center to make the score 3-0 Sox, Manny celebrated thusly on his return to the dugout: he had Wily Mo hold up a towel, he and Julio Lugo put their hands pointer-fingers-up against their heads like bulls, stamped the ground, and then Manny ran through the towel while Coco waved it.
For a moment, all was silent in my apartment. After the second or two of shock had passed, though, I was guffawing so loud I'm pretty sure the neighbors could hear me.
Oddly enough, before they cut to commercial, while the Moose mounted his ATV for his fateful ride, Orsillo pointed out that Manny's hand-style could also be construed as more moose-like than bull-like, which had been his interpretation because he hadn't seen Wily Mo with the towel right away.
In Coco's next at-bat in the top of the sixth, he was knocked onto his face by a near-HBP. "First the moose is after him, now it's Batista," Remy said. Even Coco couldn't help but laugh as he dusted himself off. It's only a laughing matter, of course, because he wasn't hurt, demonstrating his health with a spectacular diving grab in the seventh.
Luckily Josh & Co. got things under control soon after all the Coco-abuse, before whatever demon spirit that clearly possesses the ironically-named Safeco Field could claim either the game or any lives. Beckett had a lot of baserunners but always buckled down, allowing just one ER over 6 2/3 and striking out nine despite giving up eight hits. Ironic to have this be the 14th win over a one-run, 8-inning gem July 25 against Cleveland. But whatever, I'm sure he'll take it.
There were some ugly moments. When Raul Ibanez flew out loudly in the sixth, I was having flashbacks to last year and everything. And all the ducks on the pond definitely gave me agita. The sun in Seattle was streaming brightly today, and its glare combined with the frustration made Beckett squint and sneer even a little more than usual. But overall he kept his cool, at least in comparison with last week's water-cooler spaz-out.
Whenever I sit down to watch Beckett pitch, I know he's going to do something mind-bogglingly entertaining. This time, rather than taking his intensity out on the infrastructure, he brought the pain to opposing hitters. I've noticed Josh has a tendency when he's "on" to be a bully to one or two guys in particular. Today, his official Bitch of the Game was Adam Jones; two of his most memorable pitches of the game were to the Mariners' center fielder, one a curveball in low-fastball clothing in the second that earned a huge swing and miss, and climbing the ladder with the fastball for a strikeout in the sixth.
I was a little sad, in a way, that there was no outrageousness from Josh, but I would imagine after they couldn't even air his press conference last time around someone probably called him out on the carpet. Luckily NESN helped me split the difference with a brilliant montage of all the other times Joshie's flipped out this season set to Korn's "Blind" pre-game. I hope they keep up the good work with the early-90's jams, especially when it comes to Beckett, who is exactly my age and probably enjoys a good head-bang to the alterna-classics as much as the next child of that decade.
As for the offense, there were still a few irritating moments, but on the whole they got the job done today. They were neck and neck with the Mariners most of the game in terms of hits, but outscored them by a huge ratio--in other words, they converted men in scoring position into runs, FINALLY.
The actual sportscasters chose the Moose v. Coco as the Play of the Game today, but I would suggest the pair of plays that closed the fourth inning, the first a circus catch on a diving liner at second by Alex Cora. Shortly after that, Joshie threw a strike to Julio Lugo, who had snuck over to second behind Raul Ibanez, for the final out. I wonder how long Lugo's hand stung--Beckett almost totally forgot himself in his haste to get the ball over and when I say he threw him a strike, I mean it almost literally.
The antics continued later on in the top of the seventh, when Papi stole a base! Everyone was so surprised, Batista (?) airmailed the ball into center field. Then, JD Drew got a triple with two outs and a man in scoring position! Everybody was so surprised, Adam Jones forgot to try to catch the ball.
And so it appears the Mariners regressed to the mean this weekend, and finally the Red Sox's inordinately bad luck at "Safe"Co appears to have come to an end. Time for Joshie to pass the big bowl of nails and spoon over to Schilling for his breakfast tomorrow morning, before he makes his big comeback. Can you even imagine how fired up he's going to be?
P.S. I'm thinking of starting a recurring feature here called Fly on the Wall, or FotW for short, so I can have a concise way of referring to the moment or moments just about every game in which I'd kill to know what was being said. Today's FotW: when Jason Varitek was on base after being walked in the top of the first, talking a mile a minute and gesturing emphatically to Luis Alicea.
P.P.S. Based on evidence including ping-pong with Brady Quinn and the more recent "Loogie" line, I had already determined that Dustin Pedroia was probably a funny mofo. A sound bite from Red Sox Report today confirmed it--he was lecturing kids about how they should eat their Wheaties, etc., and when he got to the part where he was telling them all that they should follow their dreams and that some of them might become big leaguers, blah blah, he said, "I mean, I made it, and some of you are probably bigger than me." It appeared to go over their heads but I howled. Just the wry, deadpan way he said it...that guy is almost like a subtler Kevin Millar. And when Bobby Doerr said "I love watching your little second baseman play"? Squee. Tear. Dustin Pedroia can stay.