Just a few days ago I put up a post as part of my World Series essay discussing J.D. Drew's grand slam in Game 6 of the 2007 ALCS, and my alienation from him even as he delivered us a clutch hit for postseason victory--
Unlike Manny’s walkoff in the ALDS or any of David Ortiz’s clutch heroics, J.D.’s home run feels like something that we fans are less entitled to share. When it comes to our inscrutable right fielder, it feels to me like I have been like the characters in Aesop’s The Little Red Hen: not around to help when the hard work’s being done, and so not able to share in the bread when it finally appears.
When I watch this home run again, I pay attention to the grins on J.D.’s teammates’ faces: it’s clear the sense of vindication they feel for him, and it’s not beyond reason to believe that showing us up for the way we’ve turned on J.D.—the way we’ve turned on lots of players—might be a part of their exuberance.
Meanwhile, the news has come in from Japan, far away from Boston and its fans, that J.D. just hit his second monster home run in as many games--and another grand slam.
It could be that some element of the Japanese atmosphere not present in Boston has lended him unusual strength over this week, and he'll go back to suppressing rallies with ruthless, Wac-A-Mole efficiency when he gets back. Or it could be that a lot of us (myself included) are about to dig in to some heaping plates of crow this year.
Meanwhile, let me also just say--I will never get tired of hearing Japanese announcers call home runs. Never.
About 30 minutes before the game, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia stood in the dugout working over the handle of his bat with a pine tar rag. Out of nowhere, a blunt noise filled the stadium. Pedroia pirouetted toward left field. A band of Tigers fans in left field had begun a chant. Then drums joined in. Then a horn. And clapping.
"What the (expletive) is that?" Pedroia asked.
Get used to it, he was told. That's Japanese baseball.
The answer seemed not to suffice.
"Shut up!" Pedroia yelled toward the fans.