Easygoing Hard to Take
From: Kevin Hench
Subject: Easygoing Hard to Take
The Boston Red Sox 2001 edition is the team equivalent of a
into second, beginning to slide, then, wanting to avoid a raspberry, stopping
awkwardly and breaking his leg. I've seen it happen and it's every bit as
ugly as tonight's train wreck loss. You can't go in hard and easy at the
same time, and that's just what the Sox are trying to do.
You see, the Red Sox organization made a commitment to its fans to go all out
to make the playoffs this season. The commitment was so deep it entailed the
immediate termination of the manager. That's going in hard.
But naturally - and shrewdly perhaps - the team has coddled its franchise ace
through countless long tosses, side sessions and simulated games and fallen
further and further behind while waiting for him to tell the team when he is
ready. That's going in easy.
The Sox traded two young pitchers for a proven closer coming off elbow
surgery. That's going in hard.
The team plans on having Mike Lansing play shortstop every fourth game while
Nomar Garciaparra regains strength in his wrist. That's going in easy.
Add in a certain malingerer's unwillingness to play center field despite
being able to run the bases - albeit clueslessly - and a star hitter's
unwillingness to DH until he's had some down time in the pool in Fort Myers
and you have basically all the team's stars going in easy. August is almost
gone. We're hanging by a thread. And the most important players on the team
are all going in easy. Which is fine. But if the players are going in easy,
the front office shouldn't be making overtures about going in hard. Throttle
back, let Nomar play two or three times a week, shut Pedro down for the
season, let Manny spend September in the whirlpool, spend the next five weeks
exploring non-aspirin anti-inflammatories for Carl. Get healthy and get
ready for 2002. But don't insult us by pretending the organization is going
all out to win this year and then make us watch Mike Lansing trying to reach
first base from shortstop in the 18th inning of a huge loss in Texas. You
can't have it both ways. You either go in hard, or you go in easy. You try
to do both and you break your leg.
Tonight we broke our leg. The silver lining is that this is the first major
injury of the season that was only metaphorical.
...Subject: One Fan's Fantasy
I have this fantasy where I stride into the Red Sox clubhouse
myself on the team. In one version I end up beating the non-aspirin crap out
of Carl Everett. In another they just sit and listen. Because they know I'm
I stalk around the locker room, bellowing for all to hear as I single each
"Mike Lansing! Wow, look at you, all snarl and forearms. You'd think a
strong guy like you could reach first base from shortstop. I know, I know,
it's a long throw, and if Jose Offerman would use a first baseman's mitt he
probably would have scooped the last one. Don't worry, the official scorer
actually gave Pudge a base hit on the routine roller that you bobbled and
threw wildly on, so you were only charged with two errors tonight. But
that's not even what gives me the red ass about you. Three nights after you
got hung up between second and third on a comebacker to the mound and cost us
a run with your baserunning, you outdid yourself on the paths tonight. On a
3-2 pitch to Trot Nixon, you took off for second. The pitch was ball four,
but you went in hard, which is fine. Pudge threw through, which is also
understandable since a catcher can't afford to wait around on the ump's call.
Now's where it gets weird. Pudge's throw skipped off A-Rod's glove into
left-centerfield. Everyone in the ballpark knew the ball was rolling
basically into the gap except for you. You were singling the second base
umpire for time. Now, naturally, he can't grant you time because the ball is
rolling on the outfield grass - IN PLAY. Gene Lamont is screaming at you,
but you're doing your own thing, brushing off, etc. Here's a tip that I
don't usually have to give to veterans. Find the friggin' ball! Now I also
want to rip you for getting caught stealing tonight against the best catcher
in baseball history because I can't believe any manager - even the deposed
idiot - would have sent you. But I'll have to reserve judgment until the
facts are in on that one. Let's put it this way: If you went on your own,
it capped a pretty friggin' horrible week for you on the bases, now didn't it?
Way to cost your team a game tonight, Scatter-arm."
"Darren Lewis. Darren Lewis. D-Lew. You were sent in to pinch run in the
17th inning. Do you watch the games? Did you see Nomar get picked off by
Machalak last night? Have you caught any of the season-long saga between
your team and Machalak? I know, I know, he breaks the rubber, steps toward
home and throws to first. It's a balk. But guess what, idiot... they don't
call it. You absolutely cannot get picked off in that situation. It's truly
the only mistake you could have made. And you made it. And then Scatter-arm
rips a double. Way to cost your team a game tonight."
"Chris Stynes. Let's hope tonight's four hits signals an end to that little
5-for-44 unpleasantness you've put us through during this stretch drive. But
what I really want to talk to you about is baserunning. Like so many of your
teammates, this part of the game seems to puzzle you. When you're on second
base and a pitch kicks 45 feet to the catcher's right... MOVE TO FRIGGIN''
THIRD BASE! What the hell were you thinking? You would have gone in
standing up. There wouldn't have been a throw. Imagine, if you can, a
360-degree field with no foul territory. You're on second when one of your
teammates bunts the ball halfway to the first-base on-deck circle... do you
really think you're going to get thrown out at third base? Really? I think
that fastball to the face has screwed up your grasp of spatial relations.
Way to go."
"Nomar Garciaparra. I know I don't have to yell at you. I know that for you
to sit in the dugout while Mike Lansing butchers three or four ground balls
that you handle routinely, that you must be in serious pain and that to have
entered tonight's game at any point would represent a risk of serious injury.
Right? So I can keep moving on, okay?"
"Carl. Maybe there's a big preacher somewhere who could beat some humility
into you. A really massive guy like the dude from The Green Mile. Just to
pound the livin' sh-- out of you until you become an even marginal human
being. But I know that's aiming too high. I'd settle for someone beating
you until you became an even marginal baserunner. You still have the
hammerlock on the all-time dumbest baserunning play most of us have ever
seen, and tonight you added to your legend by getting picked off first by the
catcher in the 13th... 14th? Now I know what you're going to say, and I
already ripped Stynes for his miserable baserunning. But you can't go from
first until you know he's going. Right? Look at me. Right? And you were
safe. But that's still no excuse for running the bases with your head up
your ass. And stop striking out against guys who throw 82 miles per hour."
"Joe Kerrigan! Buddy! How's it going? Little tougher than you thought it
would be, huh? Bottom seven, 6-4 lead, Garces has retired both batters he's
faced... whoa... there's Tim Wakefield. Right there on the mound. Do you
really want a pitcher who has no idea where the ball is going to go coming in
to protect a late-inning lead? Were you surprised when he went 3-0 on the
first hitter? When he walked him? What is the worst sin for a reliever
trying to protect a two-run lead? Lamont, shut up! I'm asking Joe. ....
That's right, walking the leadoff hitter. So why would you go to a pitcher
who puts location in God's hands once he releases the ball? Why, Joe? And
didn't your charts and actuarial tables tell you that Gabe Kapler is hitting
.500 off Wakes? And then, if the bullpen is as shot as your subsequent moves
would indicate, why would you get a total of two outs from Garces and
Wakefield, then burn McDill after he faced only two batters when you could
have walked A-Rod with first base open and kept the lefty in to face
Palmeiro? Why, Joe? And did you send Mike Lansing? Cause somebody needs to
step into the middle of this clubhouse and apologize to the team. Either
you're an idiot who knowingly gave the steal sign or an idiot who accidentally
gave the steal sign, or he's an idiot for running on I-Rod on his own. Will
the idiot please step forward?"
Just once. It would be my Make-a-Wish dream come true to scream at these
guys with impunity.
...Subject: Can't Shake This One
When you can't score for 10 and a third innings against Jeff
Kolb, Pat Mahomes and Chris Machalak, what does this say about your lineup?
That maybe it's not the best time for your best hitters to be chillin' on the
sidelines? Or in the Fort Myers Marriott?
By my count Lansing made four errors tonight: the two he was actually
charged with, one on Michael Young's routine grounder to Mike's right with
the infield drawn in that Mike threw wildly on, and the bobble-wild throw on
Pudge's routine grounder. Official scoring has gotten completely ridiculous.
The home team gets a hit on basically anything they reach first base on.
It's become just like Little League. These idiots who score big league games
obviously have never played the game themselves or they'd have a much better
idea of what constituted a hit or an error. If the play should be made, then
it's an error. How the heck do you give Pudge Rodriguez a base hit on a
three-hopper right at the shortstop?
So many people suck at their jobs.
...Subject: Kill the Bums
Our creaky, overworked bullpen threw 195 pitches tonight.
About 150 more than they would have had to had the home plate umpire, the
third base umpire and the first base umpire not all made mistakes.
In the first inning, Frank Castillo clearly struck out Frank Catalanotto with
a fastball on the corner. Plate ump Andy Fletcher, who has spent the whole
season going chin to chin with various managers because his strike zone jumps
all over the place, called it a ball, Catalanaotto got a base hit on the next
pitch and scored the Rangers first run. The Sox would have won in reg had
Larry Young not wrongly sent Carl Everett back to third on Mike Lamb's wild
throw in the seventh. Everett, who was going on a 3-2 pitch, had already
turned second when Lamb's throw scooted down the right-field line. He would
have scored easily as no Ranger was within 150 feet of the ball, but when a
fan touched the ball, the umps gave the home team - and the offending fan - a
gift, instead of following the rules and placing the runners where they would
certainly have ended up. Fieldin Culbreth's blown call on Everett at first
base - with Stynes on second - in extra innings was obviously magnified when
Bichette singled to lead off the next inning.
Nice work by the men in blue. Only Dale Scott at second didn't make a
mistake that changed the outcome of the game. They almost sucked for the