First of all, forget that 12-DVD bombast with the behind the scenes footage and secret handshakes and supposedly lost footage of Carl Everett and Joe Kerrigan in full, shirtless embrace at the Southie St. Pat’s parade. Yesterday’s game is the one I want preserved on a shiny disc for those cold, winter evenings when there’s no love to be found and televison has exhausted its supply of new Jessica Alba product.
It was the feel good event of the summer, and I swear I’m still high off its fumes.
First and foremost, we had the Magic Helmet. Yes, I know Olerud’s power surge has lasted approximately three days now, but he just looks so goddam tight with his power stroke and his natty helmet and his ability to get all Mr. Fantastic on ground balls and low throws at first base. Saturday, he bitch-whaps the Twins after they walk Papi to get to him. Yesterday, he adds the exclamation point, going back-to-back with Ortiz. The Magic Helmet is large and in charge, folks, and even though he looks like that elf that wanted to be a dentist in Rudolph, he is not to be trifled with on the diamond. Play him, Tito. Ride his hot bat and able glove into the thick, sun-streaked August evenings.
Then there was that catch by The Hebrew Hammer out in right field. Now that simply made no sense whatsoever. As soon as the ball left the bat, and the NESN cameras showed Gabey breaking into some sort of half-assed Ashley Simpson-esque jig, we knew nothing good would come of it — surely the ball’s trajectory was taking it far over Kap’s cap, most likely out of the park for a ground rule double to set the Twins on top. But then he herks and jerks his body like a guy running backward through the streets of Tokyo from a rampaging Godzilla, and somehow, some way, the goddam ball ends up in his glove. Even on replays, it’s like watching Ruby ice Oswald. We’re left to just shake our heads and say, “No f–king way did that just happen.”
Then there was John Papelbon, delivering the goods and matching up rather nicely with Brad Radke for five and one-third innings, striking out seven and giving up a scant four hits, albeit two of them home runs. The shaky moments were there, but overall a solid performance from the rookie in front of an absolutely amped-up hometown crowd.
Of course, there was Manny. A couple nights ago, he gets the sort of reception typically reserved for announcements like: “And now, ladies and gentlemen, the latest from REO Speedwagon.” But yesterday, he was a guy in a sirloin suit and we were the foaming-mouthed dogs. With “We Want Manny” echoing throughout the Park, dude comes to the plate, sends 35,000+ people into apoplectic seizures, then slaps a ball up the middle to drive in what turned out to be the winning run. Cue additional seizures. Suddenly, it’s Manny Time all over again, as we all step into the Wayback Machine and just forget that the last 48 hours ever happened.
There was also a lot of love. In the stands. On the field. Hell, even in the dugout, where David Wells was caught goofin’ with Manny, rendering the greatest line ever uttered to the Boston media — Wells accusing Manny of “messin’ with [his] cake” — pretty innocuous.
There’s just so much to be happy about. We’ve won five in a row. We’re atop the division. John Halama is gone. Manny’s here to stay. And there was this moment, captured in Edes’ game recap:
But in a bizarre scene before yesterday’s game, [Manny] and teammate Kevin Millar walked into Francona’s session with the media.
“I want to introduce you to Manny Ramirez,” Millar said.
Ramirez waved a hand to reporters. “I’m back,” he said.
Holy jumping bacon of Christ. I’ve fallen in love again, people.