AAaand We're Back...
Derek Lowe insisted in a post game interview last night that "I never really lost confidence."
He'll be here all week, folks.
But, really, whether it was the pulled-up socks that helped him (uniform-related Loweian superstitions continue) or a demolition derby between the pitcher and first baseman, Lowe fared okay last night. Mike Timlin, it should be mentioned, was, as they say, lights out through three. And the Sox took two out of three from KC, which is good.
Nope. This is Boston.
Hench over at BDD has an interesting piece up today about third base coach Dale Sveum, and the effect he might be having on the team:
In the third inning of the opening game of the trip we had an event so revelatory that the two mistakes that followed only confirmed what had to be true. With Manny Ramirez on second and one out Kevin Millar lined a single to left. Okay, so the play is right in front of Sveum. As soon as the ball is hit, I know Ramirez can't score. The ball was hit too hard, Manny isn't fast and Jose Guillen has the best arm of any leftfielder in baseball. But to my horror Sveum had the windmill going. And going and going. Then a funny thing happened. Manny stopped at third. As if to say, "Dale, are you out of your mind?" Sure enough, Guillen threw a strike to the plate and Manny would have been out by, oh, 40 feet. When Manny Ramirez has better instincts on the bases than your third base coach you have a serious problem.
Even Ed is feeling a touch of ennui today:
Still, I'd be perfidious if sat here writing that everything is hunky dory. I feel like I've been watching a bit about average, second place type team, even with the two back to back wins. (I'm not blaming players or management; my lack of confidence has everything to do with the number of guys on the DL.)
Perhaps I'm just ignorant. After all, I found Pedro's struggles against Casey Kotchman the other night in Anaheim heroic and fascinating, whereas all the experts can't seem to say enough about how horrible it was.
And it's true. Not everything is hunky dory. I worry we're hanging too much of our hopes on Nomar, I worry that Trot may never come back, I worry that BK will...but I never expected to find myself alone on the bandwagon this early.
Last night I was watching the week-in-review show on Channel 38 (which is actually channel 14, but whatever), and they were showing Part 2 of a round-table-discussion between members of the Sox bullpen, namely Alan Embree, Keith Foulke and Mike Timlin.
"Man," I said out loud as the segment opened. "It's gotta suck to play for the Sox."
I mean, really. You're a farm boy from somewhere, you grow up and learn to throw and / or hit a baseball real good. You bust your ass and make a career out of it. Then you end up in Boston, where not only are you expected to be constantly absolutely perfect, but you're also expected to have public group therapy at least twice weekly through the media. Your every psychic wrinkle will be examined. Your every personality quirk will be dissected. These will then be related to your every tiny mistake on the field, until you've been pigeonholed and pinned down like a butterfly on a specimen board, and from that point on your public concept in Boston will remain the same, no matter what you do on or off the field.
Then when you really do go crazy, we'll scoff that you just don't have the "mental toughness" to get the job done in Boston. The hell with you. You'll be shipped off to the Dodgers to finish out your miserable career if you let it affect your game, the Yankees or another division rival if you didn't, in which case you will be mightily booed whenever you come back to the ballpark.
I mean, have we stepped back and looked at ourselves lately?
Meanwhile, on the "round table" show, once all those pain-in-the-ass questions about actual pitching were out of the way, it inevitably came time for the real heart of the interview: asking each guy to estimate a) What Would Happen if They Won a World Series for Boston, and b) how they meant to accomplish that, this season.
"Maybe," I said, aloud again, "if we want to win a World Series, we should stop talking about it in June."
I guess this is what 85 years of frustration does to a place. But when things reach this point of collective hysteria, the collective suffering is all but guaranteed to continue.
Think about it. The game Saturday was a gem in just about every aspect. Back-to-back triples. Two-run homers. A command performance on the mound. Why? Because with a start from Curt Schilling, everyone--from the players to the press box--was confident Boston would get a win.
But other than Curt piling up the strikeouts and racking up zeros on the scoreboard, what about the team was different? It's the same group of guys with the bats, right? But while oh-fers abounded in the other games of the Kansas City series, Saturday the hits just kept on coming.
Were there base-running gaffes? Probably. Was third-base coaching inconsistent? Maybe. Did it matter? Nope.
Obviously Curt can't pitch every night. But like I said before, it's the same group of guys with bats backing up every starter on the team. So why is it they only pile on eight runs, enough to win just about any game, when Schilling's up?
You are, of course, entitled to your opinion on this issue. No doubt my Yankee trolls will assure me that it's because the Sox simply suck. Others may choose to focus on management, injuries, or any of the myriad other red herrings that have flooded our brains with nonsense this season.
But as an admitted yahoo fan, I would submit that it's simply because every other day of the rotation, those uniforms are just too darned heavy.