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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Did Girardi have Proctor groove one?

A thought occurred to me as ESPN switched from the nightmare in Baltimore over to Tampa Bay. It's the 12th inning, and the last thing Joe Girardi wants is to keep playing a meaningless game and wear out his pitchers. He seems to whisper something to the guy sitting next to him -- was it pitching coach Larry Rothschild? -- and the next thing you know, I believe on the next pitch, Longoria hits a game-winning home run off Scott Proctor. Just three minutes had elapsed since the game in Baltimore ended.

Talk about the ultimate diss to your arch-enemy. It's like a diabolical plot. The Yankees take a 7-0 lead into the eighth, get the Red Sox fans in Baltimore (and everywhere else) thinking playoffs, as well as the Sox players themselves, and then rip out all their hearts and mess with their psyche by blowing their touchdown advantage and several scoring chances in extra innings.

Now, not surprisingly, the Sox start tensing up and making stupid, desperate, mistakes. Scutaro gets thrown out at the plate. Ortiz gets thrown out at second. Pap keeps throwing fastballs -- just like in his 2009 playoff melt-down -- when a split-finger or two would have likely ended the game. And then Crawford, who I kept cheering to turn things around as his season unfolded in Renteria-esque fashion, blows a catch he absolutely could have caught and for good measure throws a lollipop to the plate as the winning run scores.

Now here's the really funny thing. I'm in Detroit visiting my wife's family. As the evening began unfolding in very promising fashion for the Sox, Yanks, and Tigers, I envisioned myself  blogging from Commerica Park this weekend and Ryan Lavarnway celebrating the Jewish New Year with a homer in true Hank Greenberg style (actually, Hank beat the Red Sox with TWO homers at Fenway on Rosh Hashanah, 1934). Then it all slipped away, and I was left with the worst pit in my stomach since Aaron Boone took Wakefield deep in '03.

But as tempting as it was to believe the Evil Empire planned this all out, deep down I know what my old buddy Justin has been saying all month is true: the 7-20 September Sox did not deserve to make the post-season. The swoon was more than bad luck or bad karma -- it was just bad baseball. With the exception of Jacoby Ellsbury, who is still my choice for American League MVP, the offense fell flat. Ortiz and Gonzalez may have kept their averages high with a rain of meaningless singles and doubles, but their power strokes disappeared. The starting pitching was awful. The relief pitching was (mostly) awful. The defense was shaky.

And here I am, author of a brand new book on Fenway Park. As my wife the reluctant fan switched out her lamp, leaving me in the dark with my computer, she said, "Don't worry, nobody will blame this on Fenway. The Red Sox never would have won anyway." She's probably right, but I would have done anything to have one more chance this fall to walk down Yawkey Way with the smell of sausages in the air, grab a bag of peanuts from Nicky Jacobs, high-five Big League Bryan, and then cheer on the home team in an attempt to put the worst month in recent memory behind us.

Now we have to wait seven months to get that chance.


  1. Who is Giardi?
    The Yankees are managed by Joe Giradi

  2. Oops, thanks. I fixed it. But cut me some slack, it was 2:00 a.m. and I was still in shock.