Monday, July 24, 2006

The Cure for What Ails Them?

Granted, yesterday's 9-8 loss to the Seattle Mariners was a menagerie of "how not to play baseball" moments, but most troubling for me were the implosions of relievers Manny Delcarmen and Mike Timlin. In my efforts to make sense of what happened, I could reach only one logical conclusion.

These men desperately need some Beazer lovin'.

It was way back in January that Little Manny got the thrill of his life

and it is clear that he needs another.

As for Mr. Timlin, I don't think he has ever had the Beazer lovin' experience, which could very well explain his contribution to yesterday's debacle.

It's time for our Beazer to take one (or two) for the team and get these guys back on track. I'm sure it's a sacrifice she would willingly make.

Friday, July 21, 2006

What If? Who Cares?

I admit it, I watched NESN's What If..., a fictionalized account of how game 7 of the 2003 ALCS would have turned out if Grady Little had taken out A Certain Former Red Sox Pitcher Whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken after said pitcher gave up a run to the Yankees in the eighth inning. I wasn't planning to watch it because I don't believe in crying over spilled milk, and besides, I'd take the World Championship of 2004 over a single game/series against the Yankees any day of the week. But when I got home from work and automatically flipped on NESN, there was a game on, and before I realized it wasn't one of those "Red Sox Classics", I was sucked in.

For those of you who haven't seen or heard much about this absurd production, what NESN did is hire a computer baseball operation to simulate the remainder of game 7 from the point at which Grady went to the mound in the eighth, but with the presumption that he goes to the bullpen at that point. The computer takes over from there, including simulating the choice of relief pitchers. (Edit: I was mistaken; the simulation began with Grady going to Alan Embree.) Read here for details about the process and an overview of how those 100 simulations turned out.

The bottom line is that the most likely outcome (41%) was a 5-3 Red Sox win. In another 41% of the sims, the Red Sox won by a different score. That's 82 of 100 sims that yielded a Red Sox win, which indicates pretty strongly (though obviously not certainly) that if Grady had taken out P***o before Hideki Matsui came to bat, the Sox would have won. I don't know many fans who would be surprised by those probabilities.

What did surprise me was that in the production based on the simulation process, Scott Williamson never pitched. The save went to Mike Timlin, but not until he had walked two batters in the ninth inning. Williamson had been rock solid throughout the playoffs that year; it wasn't for nothing that the mantra on everyone's lips was, "Embree and Timlin in the eighth, Williamson in the ninth."

But ultimately, SO WHAT? Should it bother any of us that the most likely scenario turned out to be what we've always known it would have been? Should we salivate over the prospect of a dramatic seventh game win over our arch-rivals? Should we ache for what might have been? My answers are: no, no, and no.

Think about it. There is no guarantee that if we had gone to the 2003 World Series, we would have won. The Marlins cooked the Yankees pretty well; there's nothing to say they wouldn't have done the same thing to the Sox. But more importantly, a league championship might have changed the dynamic of the team for the worse. Grady might never have been fired, Curt Schilling might never have been acquired, and the 2004 incarnation of the Boston Red Sox (both on and off the field) might not have been so driven to right the wrong that was 2003. What we might have ended up with is another 1986, 1975, 1967, or 1946—a pennant but no World Series trophy, and even worse than that, years before we got another chance.

I now see 2003 the way I see pregnancy and labor—something long, difficult, and ultimately painful, but with a really great outcome. I know with certainty what happened after Grady's game 7 brain fart, and it was the best experience in my life as a sports fan so far.

Would I trade that certainty, that thrill, that year-long high, for the mere hope of having it one year earlier? No way. So I don't care about "what ifs". And I believe that if you think about it, you'll find that you don't either.

Friday, July 14, 2006

July 14, 2006 - In the Red Sox Clubhouse

Man, I could barely get in the park tonight! The women were all over me!
Really. I thought, maybe after last night, they'd be mad at me. But, no, they were as great as usual.
Well, I'm mad at you.
So am I. Man, I had two RBI last night! I could have been the game hero!
Well, I could have had my fifth win! Thanks for nothing, Mark
Oh, I get it. You come here in uniform thinking you're better than everyone else, Rook? Maybe if you didn't walk the entire damn team, we would have won.
You guys have me convinced. You suck, Loretta.
(pouting) How many times do I have to say "I'm sorry"?
You don't, man. It wasn't your fault. It was nobody's fault. These things happen. Leave him alone, guys.
Do not make me shoot you, Tavarez.

Women, stand up and be counted...just don't actually stand!

Photo courtesy of Roadside Photos

I had the wonderful opportunity to hit Fenway last night with roughly 30 people dear to me (including three of the contributors to this blog!). In spite of the extra-inning loss the Red Sox ended the night with, we had a marvelous time. Lot's of fun and cheering and catching up with each other on a beautiful summer evening. I can't wait to do it again.

Alas, all was not perfect. One of the things I am most proud of is being a woman. I don't have penis-envy. I don't wish to stand when I pee. I prefer someone hold a damn door for me and I certainly will let you pay for my dinner, sir. I am also quite proud of being a woman BASEBALL fan. That is, until I see the way other women baseball fans tend to act.

Before I get going, the group I was with last night was both men and women, with the women slightly outnumbering the men. Most of those women are extremely knowledgeable baseball fans. I have nothing against woman or woman sports fans in general, and I wholly support Cruiser in her dislike of bandwagon fans gaining the moniker "pink hat fans".

Having written all that, let me give you a rundown of what I saw last night:
  • Two women (one in a yellow Red Sox hat) standing up in the middle of the game, with their cell phones to their ears, waving to the crowd and wiggling their asses.
  • Three women screaming for the 'cotton candy guy' as if he were a rock star and jumping out of their seats to get his attention while the Sox were at bat, and then acting like they didn't know what to do once he threw the cotton candy to them. "Oh, we have to pay for this?"
  • One woman running across the front of our section, trying to get everyone to do the wave.*
  • A woman in our group blowing up a beach ball and tossing it around the bleachers while the opposing team tied the game...rendering everyone in the area who decided to follow the beach ball instead of the game clueless when the scoreboard read 3-3 at the end of the inning.*
  • A woman behind me talking non-stop with a co-worker who was, seemingly, trying to get in her pants all night. There were 30 of us, and we could hear her and her man over everyone else. Color me stunned when she finally asked, "Who is the 'big name' on the Red Sox? Johnny Damon?"
  • I lost count at how many women showed up late to the game and staggered through the row wondering if they were in seat 11 or 12.
I realize some of these, on any given day, can be applied to men as well. Trust me, I've seen my share of male idiots at baseball games. But men don't have a stereotype to fight. Men aren't scrutinized at sporting events the way women are. They aren't calling these bandwagon fans "alternative hat style fans". The major sports love to make the women realize that we are just cute accents to the actual game. Wear a pink hat, drink a wine cooler and squeal when Gabe Kapler gets put into the game. That's all they want from women. And I know all these women were having fun - and I'm all for that, I have a blast at the games...but not at the expense and/or embarrassment of others.

But the women I know, including myself, are much deeper than that. I sat with a woman last night who kept score during the game (that would be our own Triumphant Red Sox Fan!), one who wore a radio to listen to the game while watching it (our own Sox Cruiser) and a woman who collects books about baseball (Booklady, who is supposed to be here but hasn't signed in yet!). I own a pink Red Sox hat. One that has a pink ribbon on it and that the proceeds from the sale went to breast cancer research. I also probably know more about baseball than most of the men sitting in the bleachers last night. I was the one who knew which player the Red Sox called up yesterday - and why. I not only pay attention to my team, but to all the teams in MLB. I read baseball-related news stories from all over the country every morning before I head off to work. I am the go-to person in my office of 8 men to 3 women, and I'm the resident baseball 'expert'.

Then I go to Fenway and am lumped in with the women who only go because their boyfriends got tickets or because their dad gave them tickets and they wanted to try and get Gabe to acknowledge them - or because they want to shake their asses and hopefully get on television.

I have nothing against the women who enjoy baseball because of the eye candy. Along with my genuine love for the game, I am one of those women. I just would like the women I mentioned above to realize that when they act stupid in a crowd of 35,000...they are representing an entire gender of people who do not wish to be lumped in with them. A little self-respect goes a long way. Men get away with it because they are men and they far as women have come, we aren't there yet.

You don't need to be annoying to get attention. And if you need that kind of attention so desperately, there are plenty of bars where you can go dance on a table.

It's slightly unfair to stick these two in the list. I know more people do these things than don't. The thing is, more than anything (at a ball game), I hate the wave and beach balls in the stands. I spend an awful lot of money on baseball tickets and I'm a very intense fan. I go to the game to watch the game and when folks start doing things that distract me and could, potentially, distract the players, it pisses me off. It never fails...the wave always starts (as it did last night along with the beach ball toss) while our team is in the field. Call me kooky, but I'm pretty sure the point of the wave was never to annoy the crap out of your own pitcher. I don't understand why fans need to do something as childish as the wave or bringing a beach ball to a game, to enhance their enjoyment of the game. I've been to hundreds of baseball games and never once did I think "Gee, this would be a lot more fun if everyone stood up while we were trying to watch the game!". No offense to Krazy George, but every time I see the wave begin, I want to hurt someone. Just a not-so brief disclaimer for those of you easily offended.