God help me, I still love Kevin Millar so dearly. He's a special treat when I get to see him play the Red Sox, especially at a live game, where I can see all the little interactions the NESN cameras might not pick up, all the little moments where, even though I can't hear him, I feel like I know what kind of things Kevin Millar is saying.
Also, watching him go through his routine in the batters' box made me downright nostalgic:
Just when I think this team has settled in to a predictable pattern, like, say, going several series in a row winning the first two games handily and then giving up the third, they play the first six innings of the final game against the Orioles true to form, down 4-0 against the same team they'd punked for eleventeen runs the previous day...and then stage a dramatic comeback walkoff win for the sweep.
And who was leading the charge of the Sox bats but our Napoleon at second base - he's just crushing the ball without batting an eyelash these days. Some may be shocked to hear that my current most prominent player fixation is on Dustin Pedroia, knocking Jonathan Papelbon into the second-place spot. This is the first time in recent memory a hitter has supplanted a pitcher for the top spot in my Binky Power Rankings.
What can I say. Dustin Pedroia seems to be the exception to every rule.
I've been starting all over again with the Sox since the trade deadline, but as time goes on, I'm beginning to notice new things that are delightful about this group. For example, an emerging great baseball duo has come to my attention - a buddy-dom rife with enough IBW permutations to one day rival the likes of Ramirez / Millar, Timlin / Embree, Tavarez / Daisuke, and yes, perhaps even Varitek / Papelbon.
Behold, the only power more awesome than Pedroia alone: Youkilis / Pedroia.
When Jonathan Papelbon strikes somebody out, he turns away from them dismissively, head down, and takes a measured walk around the mound. Sometimes he'll shake his right shoulder out if the strikeout has been sufficiently fierce.
When Josh Beckett strikes somebody out, he does the exact opposite - he takes another step twoard them, back arched, chin thrust out, as if to say, that's right, now get off my property. Tonight he wasn't quite pouring on the gas the way he can, but his control was surgically precise, his connection with Varitek uncanny, and it felt like he was taking that pugnacious step toward the plate more often than not.
He was still coming off a long absence, and so was spent after five, but it was refreshing to see him return in Commander Kickass form. Some of his pitches were just tear-jerkingly gorgeous- the finest of them all a twisting, biting 94-mph two-seamer that ended the first inning, leaving Josh Hamilton chuckling in disbelief and filling both me and the Rem-Dawg with giddy happiness.
Shortly after that, Beckett blood brother Mike Lowell reintroduced himself to the active roster with a homer on the third pitch he saw. Once again, they ride in as a tandem to infuse our team with K's, bombs and victory. Good. Times.
This afternoon, at that point we all have in the workday where it's 2:30 pm for about an hour and you still have more than half your work to do before it's Miller time, I suddenly remembered, oh yeah! Tonight Beckett and Mikey Lowell and The Mayor are back! And they get to beat up on the Texas Rangers* all weekend!
Then I turned back to my work, and sighed. Heavily. But happily.
* Seriously, I hear defense that bad is illegal in 13 states.