Monday, October 20, 2008

Who's To Blame for the Red Sox Loss? You Are!

The Red Sox lost, for the second time in history, when they were faced with an opportunity to advance to the World Series (the other time was in 2003 against the Yankees). Back to back World Series appearances would have been incredible to see, but that did not happen. Why? Was it because Terry Francona stubbornly stuck with Jason Varitek? Was it because Big Papi lost his mojo? Was it the loss of key members of the offense, like Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell (MVP's of the last 2 Red Sox Championships)? Was it too much pressure for some of the new guys (Jason Bay, Mark Kotsay)?

I think the real blame lies with one of you fans out there. Yes, you know who I am talking about. We all have our lucky traditions that always ensure a Red Sox victory. It might be the shirt you wear while watching the games, it might be where you watch the game. Maybe, between each inning you hop around the couch on one foot while singing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game".

Whatever it is, one of you did not stick with your tradition. Theo Epstein asked me to help him track you down, so make this easy on all of us and confess. Did you accidentally wash the socks you've worn throughout the series? What was it? These guys fought hard throughout these playoffs, and you go and forget your silly little tradition and now look what happened!

How about the game itself? Aside from the disgusting spitting going on out there, Matt Garza did a terrific job. Garza went 7 innings and only allowed 2 hits, one of them a first inning solo home run to Dustin Pedroia. When Pedroia hit that one, I thought Garza might be in for a long night. The problem was that he was afraid of the crowd. Garza came out with, what looked like, tissue crammed into each ear. I guess if you cannot mentally block out the crowd, you do it physically. What he needed to do was embrace the noise, which he did in the second inning, and rolled through the game after that.

You may be tempted to blame the Sox hitters, but, other than Pedroia's home run and Jason Bay's single, no one could put the bat on the ball. Batters were tentative and unsure. I've never seen so many check swings! Speaking of which, I flipped out when the home plate umpire called JD Drew out with bases loaded on a check swing. The ball was no where near the strike zone, and the check swing was borderline (Varitek later was given a ball for a worse check swing). At least check with the third base umpire! I hate seeing the umpire take the bat out of their hands, but at the same time, Drew did not know what to do with those pitches. Just wish he had another chance.

Also, what was with the mystery strike three on Mark Kotsay in the 9th inning? Clearly a ball, and replays showed it (even though the announcers glossed over that one). Yes, I'm unhappy about those calls, because each little thing matters at that stage of the game. But, that's not why they lost. They lost because the Rays stymied the Sox bats. The Sox pitched great; Jon Lester was terrific allowing only 3 runs in 7 innings. You cannot expect to win when you only score one run. That is the problem. The Rays' pitching did not succumb to the pressure. They shook it off, and pitched great. The umpires helped a bit, in the examples I cited, but that is all part of the game too.

It turned out to be a well done, well played, exciting series. The Rays had a great year, never let up, and managed to survive a classic Red Sox ALCS comeback. They deserve their place in the World Series. Now, get out there and make this an exciting WS for us, represent the American League well, and we'll be back to do it all again next year.


Matt said...

I've already seen some new Rays hats out here in California, the silver lining in the loss is a few of the bandwagoners have left the Nation

Suldog said...

Garza is the butt-ugliest ballplayer of our generation. He looks like a snake when he spits.

(I may have said that already on another post; I don't know. It doesn't hurt to repeat it, though. Man, he is seriously not good-looking.)

Rooster said...

FW - That is a good point. Bandwangoners have been making us look bad. Get back to the core group now. Good thing.

Sul, where's Garza get all that spit from anyway? It's like he tucks his tongue under and pulls out a little gob of something. Where's it all come from?

Anonymous said...

pitching did not succumb to the pressure