Manic DepressionTo say the game started slowly would be an understatement. By the third inning, as Curt Schilling continued his deliberate windup and the players plodded lazily around the field, it was easy to picture the following Globe headline: "SOX LOSE MOST BORING GAME IN BASEBALL HISTORY". It was 1-0 Angels then, after a laser home run to deep left. It had come after an egregious show of laziness and / or stupidity in the field by Nomar Garciaparra and Johnny Damon, who let what should have been a fly-out drop in left center to let the inning continue, and when the home run landed in the seats, the Sox fielders were finally reduced to spectators like the rest of us, eyebrows raised, watching the ball clear the wall. It was maddening, to continue the trend of understatement. When the ball fell in front of Nomar--practically on his foot!--it was difficult, indeed, not to concede the game, if not the entire season. It was hard to find the Zen. "Fuck it," I spat. "If they don't care, I don't either." Of course I didn't mean it, but I really wished I did, which was close enough. They were just dead. Even when Trot Nixon made a nifty catch to rob a homer in right during the early innings, he came as close to a Statue of Liberty imitation as is possible when leaning over the wall, and turned and lobbed the ball back toward the infield without a flicker of expression. "I fail to understand this," I ranted a la Angry Bill. "It seems like everyone on that side of the television doesn't seem to understand how much everyone on this side of the television needs them to get it together. It's like they don't care at all. They're just mailing it in right now. That just freakin' kills me. Here we are with a new ownership, new manager, stocked roster, pitching depth, for once in our lives the old excuses don't hold up. And yet here we are." It was the slowest game ever. It just dragged on and on--unless, of course, it was the Red Sox' turn to bat. After four innings of watching them trudge to the plate and trudge back to the dugout moments later, I sarcastically suggested they simply start the Red Sox batting order with two outs to begin their half-innings in order to save time. At this point, my companions were slinking ever so subtly away from me. Not that I blame them. I was rather quietly losing it. Because it's one thing for the Red Sox to fight heroically and fail, as they did in the extra innings against the Yankees several weeks ago, as they did even in Game 7. As Woody Hayes once said, "Nothing cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you". It's one of my favorite sports quotes, and absolutely true. But the flip side of it is that soulless, lackadaisacal defeat leaves you feeling dirty, bilked, swindled, used. Then all of a sudden the Angels woke the sleeping giant.
Only Red Sox fans could be heard in the crowd at that point, and Ortiz was thankful that at least one heckler was silenced. The crowd gave Ortiz his share of boos, something that can probably be attributed from his ejection Friday night, when he angrily and uncharacteristically threw a couple of bats out of the dugout.
"There was a guy right behind me in the on-deck circle, he was cussing at me and saying, 'Hit Ortiz in the face.' And he has a little kid next to him," said Ortiz. "That tells you what kind of people you're dealing with. That is terrible. That just got me fired up."
[Anaheim pitcher John] Lackey hit Nomar Garciaparra on the next pitch, leading to a warning from home-plate umpire Kevin Kelley. --Official Site Game Wrap
If I'd been apathetic in my frustration before, I now traversed the spectrum to its extreme opposite end. "What the fuck!?!?" I yelled as if the pitcher could hear me. "That's exactly how he hurt his wrist three years ago, you idiot! What the hell was that??"
The fact that I had been ready to personally throttle Nomar for letting the ball drop earlier was, of course, immaterial at that point. What can I say? It hurts to be in love. Especially with the Boston Red Sox.
If I'd been an Angels fan, though, I'd have been screaming too. The Sox' listlessness had been working in their favor, and Nomar's beaning erased that factor entirely. It was clear--though I didn't know about the heckler mentioned above, of course--that Ortiz was loaded for bear when he stepped to the plate.
If Ortiz had missed the ball when he took that Mighty Casey swing, he probably would have just kept on twisting like something out of The Exorcist. Luckily, he connected, and as Vladimir Guerrero chased the homer toward the fence, I said, shaking my head, "Forget it, Vladdy. Forget it, man."
And the Theater of the Absurd continued, as Gabe Kapler jacked one to straightaway center as Lackey spun around and cursed. I would've cursed, too; much as I love Gabey, giving up a home run to him is an insult to any pitcher's honor. It's already July, but it was only his third homer of the season. That has to tell you something.
Schilling was phenomenal and a crafty beast as he waited till the eighth inning to drill Molina. When they ejected Soscia and not Schilling, you just had to chuckle and shake your head. It was one of those games.
Afterwards, during his post-game interview, Schilling was pinned under the lights of television cameras, nostrils flared, the whites of his eyes visible all the way around the iris, looking, with his blonde stubble, like a guy who should be standing outside in a plaid flannel coat and fur hat with earflaps, screaming for you to get off his property. It was all I could do not to hug the TV.
But despite the win, we leave Anaheim the same old dysfunctional circus train loaded down with the usual Red Sox baggage. Why did Pedro get a vacation? Why is Manny sitting out games? Should we send the lynch mob to Terry Francona's house yet? After a series split with Anaheim, and a Yankees loss to Detroit, we're quite emphatically back to square one, and not just in the standings.