We’re 14 games deep and I’ve already had three near-heart attacks.
That’s like half my entire 2005 total. And, eerily enough, it seems like this is going to be the norm.
No easy listening this year, punks. No Kenny Rogers [the singer, not the tool] patting you on the head and turning down the covers. No soft-boiled egg and neatly-trimmed stack of wheat toast waiting at your breakfast table. No bluebirds and fuzzy puppets and Matt Lauer forming a conga line up your driveway. This year’s edition is all Red Bull and bacon and nicotine and lightning bolts. It’s balls-in-the-meatgrinder torment, keeping your pulse pounding until the final cataclysmic moment. It’s Dave Mustaine and Trent Reznor and James Hetfield screaming in your ears and dragging you out of bed because the frickin’ game’s only in the eighth inning, you weiner, and anything — and we mean anything — can happen. So don’t just assume your boys have won or lost, sit your ass down in front of the f–king TV and see it unfold.
Seriously, I can’t recall another season that packed more drama into the first couple weeks. Between the one-run nailbiters and walk-off homeruns and balls-out saves and diving catches, I’ve already pushed my blood pressure well out of the safety zone. And it’s only April? Sweet Melissa! Imma need a counselor to get me through it all.
Two days after a tight, one-run victory and one day after The Mark Loretta Patriots Day Extravaganza, we get this fantastic bit of drama — a one-run affair through the first six, until all heck broke loose and 10 runs scored between the seventh and eighth. Not to mention the fact that it was the D-Rays in the house, so we’re already expecting anything from a Joey Gathright roundhouse kick to gunplay in the outfield. And it all came down to a spectacular holy-crap-did-he-really-catch-that? snag by Adam Stern to seal the deal. Before you could even wrap your brain around what was happening, Papelbon was pumping his fists and “Dirty Water” was in the air. Just like that, it’s “pass the smokes” time.
I mean, how friggin’ close was that catch? Even watching the replays, my eyes had to have a sit-down with my brain to explain — with the help of a sliderule and pie-chart — that, yeah, motherf–ker, the ball actually landed in his glove. It didn’t bounce up or glean against the soft bed of green beneath it. And after about, oh, a half-hour, I finally believed it myself. We won. Again.
Does it even make sense? I know 2004 changed the rules, but I still feel biologically programmed to expect the worst. As the ninth inning progressed, and Papelbon loaded the bases, I could almost hear the talk show blather. The kid’s finally lost it. Cracking under the pressure. Can’t win ‘em all.
But somehow, against every law of nature, it seems as if we are winning them all, in the most hair-raising, gut-wrenching, squeeze-the-last-droppa-sweat-from-yer-body fashion. Best record in the American League (We’re up here, Johnny!). And Manny’s starting to hit. And Youk is being fitted for his cape. And Schilling’s going for win number four in less than twelve hours.
I’m already expecting another heartstopper. And I’m cool with that.