My TV was muted, and the nasal tones of Joe Castiglione were floating over the airwaves into my home by the second innning, so I didn't hear tonight's worst from MASN broadcaster Rick Dempsey, who filled in alongside Don Orasillo in the NESN booth with Jerry Remy said to be battling flu.
But if Remy can't come back tomorrow night, I would honestly rather they enlist Tim McCarver to co-host than have Dempsey back again. Seriously. What little I heard of Dempsey was that bad -- for just one example out of many, he called JD Drew an "Orioles killer," after which he was swiftly informed by Orsillo that Drew is hitting .238 against Baltimore. I really think you could've taken your average Red Sox fan off the street to do color, and they'd do about as well as Dempsey's constant spew of cliches, truisms, nonsensical blather and misstatements tonight.
Dempsey was so bad that he was actually lifted for relief color man Nick Cafardo in the seventh inning, though the ostensible reason was that Dempsey had to get ready to inflict himself on Orioles fans on the MASN postgame show. I can only imagine he killed at least some of their winning buzz.
Meanwhile, the play on the field was just as painful as the announcing.
He resembled the 2006 Beckett in attitude tonight, as well as in homer-proneness -- when Luke Scott flipped his bat in too cocky a fashion for Beckett's liking after a two-run job, Beckett stared Scott down all the way around the bases, with a sneering little smile on his face. After Adam Jones hit one out to left field and the umpire took his time getting Beckett a new ball, the fiery Texan exploded in a hail of F bombs.
I would be lying if I said a part of me didn't enjoy seeing the Beckettude back on display again, but obviously, I wasn't nuts about the four runs he gave up.
Meanwhile, once again, the bats were cold, especially with men on, other than a Kevin Youkilis three-run dinger in the 8th that left the park, in a stroke of poetic justice, directly over the head and outstretched glove of Luke Scott.
Daniel Bard came on to get the hold with the score 4 all, and well...he couldn't. He started off the inning giving up two singles, and then there went the ball, a la Salty this past weekend, right through the wickets on Jason Varitek. The Orioles runners advanced. Another pitch, and again it happened. This time, Nick Markakis headed for the plate, and 'Tek managed to flip the ball to Bard for the out at home.
After that, though, all was anticlimax. Another Orioles sacrifice fly, this time A single by Vladimir Guerrero plated the tying run. The Red Sox couldn't get anything going in the top of the ninth, and that was all she wrote.
The image that will stick with me from this game, other than Beckett's diabolical baring of teeth as Luke Scott rounded the bases (watch your ass, is my advice to Mr. Scott), will be of Youk, left standing in the hole in the bottom of the ninth, slamming his batting helmet down in frustration on the steps of the dugout. This one was a real bitch, especially since it sends us back into the basement of the AL East again. There's no two ways about it.
Admittedly, I also have a bit of crow to eat when it comes to Varitek and defense, though I would like to point out, in my defense, that I have been careful to emphasize that I have no ultimate answer for the catching conundrum. That fact still hasn't changed.
Tonight, I'm just going to avoid that issue altogether, though, and go with blaming Dempsey. Just because.