The talk about Dice is that well...maybe he just pitches this way. Houdini style. Alleged cultural differences between Japanese and American baseball may have played a role in his habit of nibbling around the strike zone. It's infuriating to his American audience, but according to Sunday's pregame on NESN, in Japan it was preferable to give up a walk rather than a hit--hence Dice's hesitancy to attack the strike zone.
When he's on, he does have a knack for wriggling his way out of bases-loaded jams of his own doing like that famous magician worming his way out of self-designed chains. Maybe there's an art to it, if you think of it that way, and watch the Fenway crowd lose its mind as he struts off the field having escaped, thrillingly, yet again.
Whether or not its translation of Japanese baseball customs was accurate, Sunday was a vintage day on NESN. Remy and Orsillo had the giggles so badly they didn't even get through Daisuke's stats before the top of the first. The afternoon also saw a replay of a young Jerry Remy going apeshit at an umpire, and a visit to the booth from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, which presented the two hosts with bear replicas of themselves dubbed Beary Remy and Don Fursillo.
Just when I thought things could not get more ridiculous, Don Orsillo began cuddling Don Fursillo like a baby and Remy started ribbing him about taking the bear as a "binky" with him on the road, not a foot away from the little Wally doll he regularly speaks of as if it's sentient. Good times.
Some people get annoyed with Remy and Orsillo's giggle fits, but I was happy for the entertainment. It was kind of a ho-hum, lazy, slow ball game. The score was only 2-0 in the end, but every pitcher seemed prone to walking the house or giving up rinky-dink hits--even Jonathan Papelbon. Both Red Sox and Orioles stranded small villages on base.
The lackadaisical atmosphere belied the game's importance: coupled with the Rays' 7th straight loss since playing "Sweet Caroline" in jest, it put the Sox in first place to seal off the early season before the All-Star Break.
There are still many question marks to deal with when we come back. But for now, a Monday night at the Home Run Derby, the reborn Josh Hamilton's name is being chanted at Yankee Stadium as he blasts moon shot after moon shot into the center-field stands, Yankees are fraternizing with Red Sox in their matching American League uniforms, and baseball is on summer vacation.
P.S. Josh Hamilton is the guy the Devil Rays drafted instead of Josh Beckett in 1999, after Josh B. put his feet up on the Devil Rays' owner's furniture. True story.
P.P.S. Shut up, Joe Morgan.