Just When It Couldn't Get Any Worse...
Date: Saturday, September 8, 2001
From: Kevin Hench
Subject: Just When It Couldn't Get Any Worse...
Other than that, Mrs. Chapman,how did you like the game?
Okay, so it wasn't Ray Chapman. Maybe it wasn't even Tony Conigliaro. Maybe
it wasn't even as bad as when that whiny guy we released with the 11.42 ERA
got hit in the face last year.
But it was still pretty bad, eh? Watching Pedro labor - for absolutely no
reason -with a strained, torn or inflamed rotator cuff, depending on whom you
talk to. Perhaps Pedro believed he had something to prove. Maybe the
organization - or the little martinet who runs it - having insinuated that
Pedro perhaps hadn't given his all to the team or the fans, painted him into
the Macho Corner, from which 95 percent of all bad male decision-making
emanates. The Macho Corner has ensnared great men, like Alexander Hamilton,
and not so great men, like Marty McSorley. What, are you a sissy? Or worse,
a sissy Federalist? Good going, Mr. Duquette. Instead of doing your job and
alleviating the pressure on Pedro and his rotator cuff by making the decision
yourself, you forced him onto that mound last night. Pedro is smart. But he
is also very proud. And a little macho. So there he was, desperately
straining to prove that he's a tough guy, that he's a gamer, that it wasn't
someone else who threw those six no-hit innings in Cleveland in 1999.
Why, Dan? Why?
What apparently has not been made clear enough to Dan
Duquette is that by
jeopardizing Pedro's health he is almost certainly jeopardizing his own.
Sure, Sox fans are notorious for screaming threats at those who fail them.
But Derek Lowe is a big guy, 6-foot-4 when vertical (though considerably
shorter after last call). As much as a Sox fanatic might want to take a
swing at Derek - God knows opposing hitters race to the bat rack - he is
still a pretty big dude, and the last thing a Sox fan needs after this
nightmare season is to get his ass kicked by Derek Lowe. Dan Duquette, on
the other hand, is just a regular-sized guy. Perhaps he is protected by his
brown shirts, that crack security force charged with monitoring wayward first
basemen and pitching coaches. If not, he should be. Almost every Sox fan I
talk to wants to break this guy's nose. Not in that loud, "If I see Bob
Stanley..." way, where the threats are as empty as they are obnoxious. These
guys really hate Dan Duquette with a visceral, bilious contempt that would
seem to transcend baseball... if, that is, anything transcended baseball.
The scary thing is they seem to make a lot of sense. They argue: Biblically
speaking, if Pedro ended his career last night, wouldn't it be perfectly
acceptable to hold Dan Duquette down and work his shoulder until he could no
longer use his arm? These thugs could probably find plenty of volunteers for
the holding down part right in the Red Sox clubhouse.
The Duke looks to be playing the part of the scorned soap opera lover who
drives off the cliff with the man who won't leave his wife for her. It's
almost as if he knows the end is nigh and he is determined to destroy the Red
Sox rather than see someone else succeed where he has failed. "If I can't
have you, no one will!" And off the cliff.
Personally, I'm a non-violent guy, an MLK guy. But there are those out
there, adherents to a different philosophy, who believe that violence in
defense of liberty - and undersized All-Star pitchers - is not only
acceptable but at times necessary. I'm just saying...
The play perfectly exemplified the season. In the second inning Tino
Martinez chopped a 2-2 pitch up the middle, collecting the 47,539th
two-strike hit against the Red Sox this season. As the ball bounded over the
mound, Pedro Martinez stuck his bare hand out, thought better of it
(realizing the game, like his appearance in it, was meaningless), pulled his
hand back and watched it hop toward center field. The ball kept bouncing as
Red Sox "shortstop" - and I giggle every time I write this - Mike Lansing
made his standard rangeless, choppy-stepped lunge for the ever-slowing
baseball. Against our brutal infield, seeing-eye singles need only 20-400
vision. Does Vizquel make this play? Of course. Ordonez? In his sleep.
Nomar? A-Rod? Nine out of ten. Does Mike Lansing come close? Nope. Would
any teenager on the streets of San Pedro de Macoris be a huge improvement at
shortstop? Clearly. When Lansing made his 14th error of the season later in
the inning, on a routine double-play ball that would have saved Pedro a run,
a loss, and numerous pitches, did it prompt the announcers to point out how
few errors Lansing had made at shortstop this year. Naturally. And this
is the final, knee-in-groin, Kafka-esque insult: I know I can tune in
tomorrow and listen to Jerry Remy talk about what a great job Mike Lansing
has done at shortstop this year. He has made aproximately one in 10 plays
that I would deem difficult. Most he never gets anywhere near. On others,
moving to his right, he is done in by his second baseman's arm. He can't
play too deep because of his weak noodle, which further limits his already
agonizingly-limited range. He never, ever throws anyone out with a relay.
For someone who grew up on Rick Burleson, it has been excruciating to watch
Mike Lansing butcher the position I so love. Of course, according to a guy
who played with Rooster, Mike Lansing has done a heckuva job at shortstop
The Red Sox will have five players strike out 100+ times this season when
Trot, Dauby and Offy join Manny and Carl. Dante and Troy would also have
long ago joined the century club had they played full seasons. John
Cumberland could fall on his face on the mound, roll over and piss himself
for all to see, and it still wouldn't be as embarrassing as some of the
strikeouts the aforementioned have suffered this year. Troy has gone after
pitches slightly above the bill of his batting helmet. Carl has not only
chased the high ones but also flailed at 50 or so changeups that never
reached the catcher's mitt. Dante's whiff of choice is the breaking ball
away - way, way, away, in-the-lefty-batter's-box away. But like used car
salesmen, these guys are impossible to embarrass. Nice ballclub.
Coming attractions: When Offy reaches 100 strikeouts (he's been stuck on 88
for a few days), I will have the Mother of All Stats for you. ٱ