My parents call Hideki Okajima "Stable Pony". It's an unfortunate nickname they first came up with for Enrique Wilson when he was invited to camp in 2006, and their theory was he'd come to keep Manny company now that Kevin Millar was gone, like a stable pony that accompanies a skittish racfehorse to the starting gate. Now they theorize that was the impetus for signing Okajima along with Daisuke, though it's a bit unfair given Okajima is at a much higher level on the field than Wilson was.
Tonight he was the savior, and in the midst of the celebration after he struck out Kevin Thompson I thought of the celebration that must be going on on the other side of the world in Japan at the same time, the combined forces of the expanded Red Sox Nation lighting up both sides of the Northern Hemisphere, and goose bumps ran up and down my arms.
Now that was a ball game--dare I say 2004 style? Specifically, it reminds me of the July 24 game, only in this instance it was the irresistable force of Red Sox pitching that sealed the victory over the supposedly immovable object of the Yankees lineup rather than walkoff offense.
And so while there was some spectacular offense from Jason Varitek and Coco Crisp (whose vindicated celebration after a crucial hit to right field was another teary-eyed moment of a game so saturated with classic plays and turning points I'm sure I'm forgetting most of them right now), a game like this is why I remain adamant that so-called sports experts paid for making analyses on national television should cease making the asinine claim that a lineup, no matter how tough, will ever edge great pitching.
Meanwhile, let's acknowledge also that for yet another year, the spirit of godly baseball in general was clearly alive at Fenway tonight, and it was also simply another masterpiece of a game between two teams whose clashes are so often classics. Right now, as I posted earlier, it feels like we're up to three Opening Days a year--as Sam put it, "My roommate's boyfriend [noticed the green uniforms and] asked if it was because the Red Sox / Yankees first game of the season was a Boston holiday."
My mind's in a million directions right now, still jetlagged from my trip and now riding high on an unforgettable Red Sox triumph. What a thing to come home to...all the little moments and subtle little victories...Varitek suddenly remembering how to hit. Ortiz proving once again that Mike Myers is probably not ever going to get him out. Even the fact that Schilling toughed out two more innings after A-Rod sent that ball to South America in the top of the fifth was a fine point you only find in the most classic of games. He might have wound up the losing pitcher today, but he was at least going to bail the team out of some bullpen wear and tear. Also, it's easy to forget in all the rest of the excitement that Schilling utterly owned Johnny Damon today, making him look the fool repeatedly at the plate.
"You win championships with every guy on your roster," Schilling just said on the postgame show, which brings up another huge point--Alex Cora, into whose glove A-Rod's lineout fell in the top of the ninth, and who had an inning earlier brought in the winning run for the second time this week.
And so, right now I get to polish off my Friday night with the thought of A-Rod sitting in front of his makeup mirror in the clubhouse, mascara running down his cheeks like something out of Sunset Blvd. The kind of thought that makes my inner child smile.
P.S. I'm starting to get a little igged about Julian Tavarez's Pepe Le Pew behavior toward Daisuke. As K put it, "Back off away from him with your suck. You might get some of it on him."
Classic Game, Classic Posts:
But we weren't done doling out the frustration. In the top of the ninth, with the Papel-Bot unavailable, Japan's own Hideki Okajima was called upon to close out what immediately became the biggest game of the season. He gets Jeter on a ground-out, walks Abreu, then faces A-Rod, who represents the go-ahead run. And these days, you'd rather stick your nuts in an electric fan than face that situation. But Hideki-San comes through, jamming Alex with a fast-ball and inducing a soft liner to second as fellow countryman Matsuzaka and resident loon Tavarez cheer him on from the top step of the dugout. Then DH Thompson strikes out to end it. And sh-t, as they say, goes nuts.
"How long before Matsuzaka ends up in a do-rag with a Thug Life tattoo?" Marianne asked.
"Him and Youks are going together. They're gonna get a two-fer deal."
"So next week then?"
"I can't wait."
How a left handed hitter can pull his hands in to hit Mariano’s cutter is way beyond me, but ‘Tek’s single was exactly that...For the second night in a row Alex gets a huge hit in a huge spot. That hit was a carbon copy of Gonzo’s floater in the 9th inning of game 7 of the 2001 World Series.
This is the face of a man on a mission. It's Coco's "Fuck the Mendoza Line" face, and I'm hoping we see it for many more games to come. (I can totally hear him saying this--also, check out Red's post for a spectacular screencap as well)
It's games like this I really miss Sarah (RallyCuff)...