Man, I hate watching games in hospitals.
All those machines beeping and intercoms blaring and sallow people shuffling about; it’s not just unsettling, it’s too much real world injected into the fantasyland I project myself into with each Sox game. I don’t need constant reminders that my life is nothing more than a grand hurtling toward the moment I get old and weak and frail and hooked up to some kinda device to help me breathe and eat and do math. I get enough of that every time Trot Nixon steps up to the plate.
Unfortunately, my Dad often finds himself in a hospital bed, fumbling with stale cups of pudding and getting his blood pressure taken while he’s just trying to watch the goddam game. So that’s how I ended up last night in a hospital just a few miles from Fenway Park; because he’s my Dad and I’ll go anywhere to watch a game with the guy, even if it means dragging out a portable TV and sitting bare-assed on Wollaston Beach (again).
Despite the unsettling surroundings, I have to admit that last night’s game was, for my money, the best Sox-Yanks matchup so far this year. After that apocalyptic 13-5 bashing Monday night, this was a taut, can’t-get-up-to-use-the-can-cause-something’s-gonna-happen thriller. This is the sort of game these teams are supposed to be playing when they match up; kinda like Superman and Lex Luthor slowly circling each other, waiting for the other to slip up.
In the end, however, this was a game we could have and perhaps should have won. What better way to shake off the previous night’s demons, when our ace got slapped around like Chuck Heston in Planet of the Apes, then to have this kid — this unknown, unproven quantity — come in and shut down the world’s most expensive baseball team. But in the end, we just couldn’t execute. Couldn’t go that extra mile to get the job done and seal this one up. And it burns me to see David Pauley saddled with the L, even though his inability to handle Miguel Cairo’s squibbler (which sounds so dirty yet is so, so innocent) in the seventh set the stage for the Yankees to break the 1-1 tie.
I can’t bring myself to project any anger at Pauley, however, so I’m targeting four others this morning:
1) Manny Ramirez. As I’ve said many times before, I can’t hate on Manny. It’s just not in my genetics. But when he suddenly became untethered from reality and tried to stretch a single into a double, arriving at second base 45 seconds after the ball, I briefly considered mailing him a box of horse urine. Yeah, he almost tied the game with a homerun in the eighth, but who knows what could have happened had he stayed planted at first.
2) Trot Nixon. Everyone loves Trot the Gamer. But, goddam, did it not seem that last night, if there was a rally to squelch or a good time to sit on, he was the guy doing it? He went 0-for-4 and killed two potential mojo-building innings, in the first and the third. Okay, on the latter — a buckshot of a drive I targeted for the deepest corner of right field — he was absolutely robbed by Andy Phillips. But still. Then in the ninth, Trot flails away at the first pitch from Rivera, flying out neatly to right. I know if you wait on Mariano you’re only gonna find yourself in the dreaded 0-2 hole, but can’t ya make the guy work a little bit? Jeebus.
3) Tito Francona. When the Yanks loaded the bases in the seventh, and with Giambi at the plate, Tito lifted Pauley for Seanez. I’m assuming the rationale was that he didn’t want to hang an untested pitcher out there in such a precarious situation. But, come on, Seanez has been tested and the results are — he sucks! When he came in from the bullpen, everyone in the free world watching that game knew he was going to give up the go ahead run. And he did. And we all got to go back to our sandwiches. Thank you, and good night.
4) Rudy Seanez. See above.
Can’t take anything away from Melky Cabrera, though. As much as it crushed me, that catch was amazing, slapping me back to reality and eerily mirroring Manny’s own theft of a Miguel Cairo homer back in 2004. As he made the catch, a pretty Spanish nurse was checking on my Dad. Seeing my reactions, she turned to check out the TV, then turned back to us and said, matter-of-factly, “The Yankees are the anti-christ.” So I instantly fell in love.
In the ninth, we went quickly and quietly, as we often do against Rivera, and that was that. Goodbye and get well to Dad, and a long, quiet drive back home. And that sick, gnawing feeling that often accompanies losses like these.
So tonight, we turn to Curt Schilling. In a game that, with Wakefield starting tomorrow, has taken on more weight. These are the sort of games Curt gets all hot and bothered for. Keep your fingers crossed. And your Sox on.
PS: I missed this Globe bit on the recent Theo Epstein-Eddie Vedder-Bill Janovitz jam session at Toad’s in Cambridge, but it’s here at the Buffalo Tom site. Click over and scroll down a bit.