So does Mike Scioscia just get thrown out of a lot of games, or is it only when facing the Red Sox? It seems like it happens at least once every time these two teams play. Or maybe there's just something about the Sox and Halos that makes everybody freak out--even Papi's biggest-ever tantrums have happened in Anaheim, including the infamous bat-throwing incident.
Which means I wasn't terribly surprised when a benches-clearing...conversation happened yesterday. Because that's the other thing about playing against and fighting the Angels--things hardly ever progress to the point where flesh actually meets flesh.
Here's what I think happened. Josh took an extra long time coming home while facing Bobby Abreu in the bottom of the first. Abreu called time at the last second, and the umpire granted it at the last second, as Beckett was already delivering. The pitch went wild and came very close to Abreu's face (though it was not behind him). Abreu took exception. Josh, who should've just kept his mouth shut at that point, took several huge, aggressive, squared-shoulders steps toward the batter, squinting his eyes, baring his teeth and "giving him some information". Both benches and the bullpens proceeded to empty.
With everyone amassed on the field, Torii Hunter got into a shouting match with home plate umpire Joe West and was tossed. This made Mike Scioscia go double-ballistic, because he felt Beckett should've been ejected for throwing at Abreu, and now, insult to injury, it was his center fielder who had nothing to do with anything getting tossed.
Two pitches in to Kevin Youkilis's at-bat in the top of the second, and Scioscia was still chirping. Finally the umpire manning the third-base line threw him out. Scioscia then went to get his money's worth by having a another little chat with Joe West before sputtering his way down the tunnel.
It was a stupid, pointless, "hold-me-back" fight, in what would be a stupid, fruitless effort for the Red Sox. Abreu overreacted; I don't think, having watched multiple replays, that Beckett threw at him on purpose. He was already throwing when time was called, but slowed down mid-throw when the time-out happened. The pitch sailed wild. If you want to be mad at anybody, I say be mad at the umpire for granting time that late.
As Beckett jawed with Abreu, I thought back to the similar ruffling of feathers in Game 5 of the 2007 ALCS between Beckett and Kenny Lofton, and how Beckett's downright-mean spirit helped spark the Sox. Maybe this, too, would turn into a surly tour de force.
Really, I couldn't conceive of much different. Beckett threw a complete game shutout against these fools in the playoffs back in '07. He's healed up from whatever affliction dampened him last year, full of piss and vinegar, ready to fight or play ball, whichever comes first.
And then--another anticlimax.
Beckett struggled and was gone after six on the hook for the loss, having surrendered four runs. From there, it was Okajima who surrendered an eighth-inning homer to Vladi Guerrerro to put the game officially out of reach for the Sox--David Ortiz would drive in a run in the ninth to bring things back within a run again, but it was too little, too late.
Along the way, the Red Sox left a small village on base, squandering a two-error inning and a two-walk inning that ended with the bases loaded. Official Golden Sombrero winner JD Drew singlehandedly left six on, and personally killed the rally that had started with Ortiz in the ninth. And so our love affair with our charismatic rightfielder continues.
OK. Seriously. What's the deal, here? Is this season going to be one big Lucy-and-the-football moment? Have we gotten too cocky? Have they gotten too cocky? Has the early West-Coast swing thrown them off?
Whatever the case, they're squandering potential right now like it's a fat bonus and they're liquored-up subprime mortgage lenders. And I am rapidly losing my patience.