If not now, when?

October 10th, 2007 → 3:29 pm @ // 11 Comments

So writes Adam Robertson, who goes on to say, “I keep checking for updates and am always disappointed to see an old thread on there…a lot to get excited about right now.” (The rest of his note–“By the way, I read and really enjoyed both of your books”–warmed my heart.) Adam’s missive comes a day after Akiva Yasnyi was even more to the point: “It’s the postseason for god’s sake, blog a little.” And indeed, it’s been two days since the Yankees were sent packing, three days since the Sox swept the Angels for the second time in four years, five days since Manuel’s first-ever walk-off as a member of the Red Sox…and I haven’t written anything for a week. My excuse–too much to do, too little time to do it in–doesn’t cut it. I know. I’m sorry.

It is, unfortunately, true — honest. I haven’t even allowed myself to watch this season’s premier of the best show on television, and that unfortunate reality will keep me from writing anything too monumental (or at least anything that’d require hours or research). But there have been some thoughts swirling around in my muddled brain, and I’ll unload some about Game 2 here:

The Mrs. and I had the good fortune to be at Friday night’s game. Or most of it, anyway: despite leaving New York at 2:30 for what should have been a 3.5 hour drive, it took us a full seven hours to arrive in Boston, and we didn’t arrive at Fenway until the top of the third. That, it turns out, wasn’t such a bad thing: Most of Game 2 of the ALDS was pretty boring. Dice-K was off, and therefore not around for long. Neither the Sox nor the Angels put together any kind of real rally. There were no slap-your-head defensive gems. And Fenway was, for most of the night, slightly less electric than during a tight regular season game. (Example: the three mildly drunken guys sitting behind us had a lengthy conversation about MILF Island–Jack Donaghy‘s new NBC reality show with the tag line, “25 super-hot moms, 50 eighth graders, no rules”–and I followed along.) That all changed, obviously, in the ninth, when, as soon as it became clear that Ortiz was going to get a chance at the plate, everyone pretty much went apeshit. (Another quick observation: three years after the ’04 playoffs, the Sox are still playing “Lose Yourself” when they’re either tied or behind in the ninth. It is truly this generation’s “Eye of the Tiger.”)

That apeshitedness died down a little when K-Rod was ordered to give Ortiz an intentional pass, and not just because Senor Octubre wasn’t going to get a chance to add to his already jaw-dropping post-season legacy. It is because, as brilliant and majestic as Manny is, he doesn’t have much of a history of huge, late-in-the-game hits. (I was astounded when the Fenway scoreboard informed the hoi polloi that Manny had tied for the league lead in game-winning RBIs with 17…but only until I realized that a game-winning RBI can occur in the 2nd inning.) In fact, the man who still seems destined to break Lou Gehrig’s all-time grand-slam record had never had a walk off homer as a member of the Red Sox. (To put it another way: he has one less than Julio Lugo.)

That, of course, is no longer the case, which is cause enough for rejoicing. More exciting is the extent to which that ball was absolutely crushed. I’ve been at Fenway for almost 100 games over the past several years, and that was one of the three hardest hit balls I’ve seen. (The other two: another Manny bomb over the Wall and the rocket A-Rod launched off of Schilling in the ninth of the first game after the ’05 All-Star break.) It also was the type of swing that Manny unleashes when he is locked in and ready to roll, and I haven’t seen that happen since the waning days of 2005. (Indeed, I didn’t think the Sox had any real chance to go all the way that year, but I wanted to playoffs to go on as long as possible just so I could keep on watching him hit.)

Manny’s not the only one who seems dialed in, although Ortiz was pretty on the ball for all of last season. And having these two hitting at the same time is one of the things that, when it occurs, separates the Sox from other teams.

To be sure, they’re both going to be needed. If I wasn’t such a Sox partisan, I’d be tempted to say that the Indians are, pound for pound, the best team in baseball. I didn’t relish the idea of a Sox-Yankees ALCS not because I was scared of the Yankees but because as much as I relish beating New York, the whole Clash of the Titans thing is getting a bit tiresome. That said, I knew the Indians are a much better team. But not a perfect one, by any means, and the biggest weakness on their roster is Joe Borowski, one of those jokes of a closer who somehow amasses a large number of saves. If there’s been a team that good with a closer that imminently hittable, I don’t think I know what it is…


Post Categories: 2007 Playoffs & Cleveland Indians & Manny Ramirez & Yankees

11 Comments → “If not now, when?”


  1. cpe123

    10 years ago

    As a fellow Friday Night Lights fan, I know how great the first season was. Please, do yourself a favor and skip the first episode of the second season — no spoilers, but they’ve managed to screw up EVERY SINGLE THING that made the first season so good. And it just took them 47 minutes!

    Reply

  2. Shalomar

    10 years ago

    Manny’s homers went 447 and 475 feet, respectively. That’s ridiculous.

    I think the Indians might be in the ‘happy we beat the Yanks, happy to be here’ mode and that the Sox will wear them down in 6, possibly 7. Beckett is going to be lights out, Dice K will be sharper, and surprise big series from Coco and JD.

    Reply

  3. nan

    10 years ago

    Dude, love your blog, love your books, love the Sox. But. There are a couple other better shows on TV, namely Battlestar Galactica, Weeds and Entourage. And the great part of our new Media Age is you can always catch up somehow.

    Reply

  4. moctavio

    10 years ago

    Everyone thinks I am nuts, long weekend here (we celebrate Columbus day on October 12th.), so I am heading to Fenway for games 1 (bleachers) and 2 (right field box). I figure that after 29 years in Venezuela doing the impossible to follow the Sox (earlier short wave radio, then satellite dish, or mlb.comTV or Internet) I deserve to treat myself. I did have tickets for the fifth game in St Louis, but never got to use them, but made me smile ayway. Thanks to Henry and fellow investor and Big Papi!

    Miguel in Caracas until morning!

    Reply

  5. yerfatma

    10 years ago

    moctavio, here’s hoping you get to see two wins.

    Reply

  6. johnw

    10 years ago

    “If there’s been a team that good with a closer that imminently hittable, I don’t think I know what it is…”

    How about the 2006 Detroit Tigers and their “ace” Todd Jones? He and Borowski are almost exactly the same pitcher.

    Indeed, the Tigers and the Indians used a similar blueprint for building a bullpen. I believe it’s a modified version of the “discredited” Bill James theory: use your best relievers in the most crucial situations, whether in the 6th inning or the 9th. James was slammed for (a) going against common practice, and (b) creating uncertainty in the bullpen due to the lack of defined roles. I’ve never bought (a), but thought there was some validity to (b).

    The modified James bullpen puts the best arms in setup roles (the Rafaels in Cleveland, Rodney and Zumaya in Detroit), giving them a pretty good sense of how and when they will be used, and sets aside the 9th inning for a certain type of pitcher: a veteran reliever who’s accustomed to late-inning pressure. Cleveland’s failed 2006 experiment with Fausto Carmona — he clearly has top-shelf stuff, but he utterly gagged as a closer — indicates that there is truth to the notion that the 9th inning is a different animal. Whatever you think of Todd Jones’s stuff, there’s no question he is completely familiar with pitching in the 9th. You give your closer a clean start in a single inning, and he’s very likely to come through with a save.

    I’m not sayin’ I’d trade Papelbon for Jones, or Rivera for Borowski… but I am saying there appears to be another way to build a championship-quality bullpen.

    Reply

  7. Mr. Furious

    10 years ago

    Very good point johnw. I’ve often maintained that often the “save” is earned in the 7th or 8th, and not the 9th. Even though that’s where the stat is handed over.

    Reply

  8. Shalomar

    10 years ago

    Isn’t this level of equivocating unseemly for a columnist?

    “Because of the pitching, the series could be low scoring. Even if Sabathia gets excited again in the first game of this series and walks some batters, he should be able to keep the score down. Beckett, too, cannot be expected to allow too many runs.

    The way these things go, on the other hand, the teams could start with a slugfest. But not likely.”
    Murray Chass, Oct 12, NY Times.

    Reply

  9. Gee

    10 years ago

    Even if Sabathia gets excited again in the first game of this series and walks some batters, he should be able to keep the score down,/b> …. The way these things go, on the other hand, the teams could start with a slugfest. But not likely.

    Good ‘ol Murray. We’re only in the 8th inning of game one, and he’s already wrong.

    Reply

  10. Gee

    10 years ago

    Sorry. Screwed up the tags, obviously. But you get the point.

    Reply

  11. rog

    10 years ago

    There, I think I got the end tag.

    Anybody know if the Sox can keep Gagne off the roster for the World Series and add Tavarez or someone else?

    Reply

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