Watching the Sox lay down the hurting on the D-Rays to the tune of 14-4, I hear the pessimist in me whisper, “They should be banking these runs… saving them for those chilly September evenings when they’re down 2-0 in the bottom of the eighth and can’t buy a hit.”
But last night, I dropped the pessimist like a sack of flour. Like a bad habit. With a wave of my Jaegermeister bottle, he was gone. And I sat back and finished watching what was simply the single most enjoyable game of the year.
It may not have been the most exciting; that status is still held by the brawlathon a couple weeks back. But this one was a joy to watch from beginning to end.
First, there were the hits. Fifteen in all, with El Bencho himself leading the charge with a 4-for-4 night, including a three-run homer. Millar is hitting .470 (31-for-66) over the last 19 games, with 18 runs and 21 RBIs. Damon had three hits, which is something you like to see from your leadoff guy, while Minty, Tek and Mueller each had a pair.
It should be noted that the Rays were hardly swatting at air; they had 12 hits themselves and left twenty-five men on base. Yes, twenty-five. Staked to a twelve run lead in the third ining, D-Lowe didn’t need to be exceptionally sharp, and while he gave up nine hits, they didn’t hurt him (that is to say, he didn’t blow the sizable lead he was entrusted with). His record now stands at 10-10.
What made the game so friggin memorable, however, was the unmistakable air of… how else can I put this… wackiness. We had Pedro with what looked like a plastic light saber in his hand (my kingdom for a photo of Pedro in the Yoda mask. Anyone? Anyone?). We had Manny mugging shamelessly and flitting around the dugout like a kid just happy to be back at camp after kicking the mumps. And then there was the “guest commentating” by Denis Leary and Lenny Clarke.
One of my favorite shows was Mystery Science Theater 3000, for the fact that it depicted people (or, in this case, robot puppets) shouting back at the screen during inexplicably bad B-movies. This was “reality criticism”; more salient than anything Roger Ebert could pull off because it was just a group of ordinary folks (or, again, puppets) dissing a film the way you or I or anyone watching at home or in a cinema would, not discussing how the cinematography echoes Goddard’s early work.
Anyway, I’ve always wanted to see the MST3K concept married to sports commentary. No Joe Morgan blathering on about how bats just ain’t made like they used to be or McCarver telling us what kind of powder Steve Carlton used to slap on his balls after the game. Just your typical, beer-guzzling guys and gals snarking off and telling it like it is.
That’s exactly what Leary and Clarke gave us last night. Listening to them busting on everything from Johnny Damon’s hair to the Yawkeys and Haywood Sullivan had me damn near pissing myself. The single classic moment was when Tek (I think) doubled off the Wall, and Leary, watching the D-Ray’s left-fielder completely misread the ball’s trajectory, snorted, “Hey, welcome to Fenway!” Unlike a lot of the celebs who wander into the booth, plug their wares, toss around the obligatory, “Fenway is soooo steeped in history,” then disappear, Leary and Clarke were entertaining, and actually had me wishing they’d stick around for the full game.
Speaking of games, there’ll be another this afternoon. One o’clock. Fenway Park. Pedro against Mark Hendrickson. The Red Sox have won four of their last five, and could start pulling away in the Wild Card standings with a strong showing during this homestand.
Two weeks ago — cripes, two days ago — I was writing this team off. But you know how it is in this family. We all know. Once you’re in, you’re in. And after a big game like last night’s, we’re all back on this bus, ready to roll ’till the wheels fall off.
So we watch, we hope, we pray, and we keep our eyes open for that elusive win streak, that spark of consistency that carries us into autumn.
And we won’t stop. ‘Cause we can’t stop.