Friday, October 7

What is this, the first hole I dug?

I would love to be a die-hard Phillies fan. Nothing short seeing Donnie hoist the Lombardi trophy would make me happier. I want to root for my team, to be there for the struggles, and march with them towards the World Series. I tell anyone who will listen that Chase is the future, and I pray for a strikeout when Lieberthal comes up with no outs and a man on first. I take the orange line to the stadium with my Marlon Byrd jersey, eat my Tony Luke's sandwich, and give them everything I’ve got. I watch games with my Dad and we try our very best to figure out what is going through Uncle Charlie’s head when he asks Corey Lidle to bunt over Todd Pratt. I want to get behind this team. But I can't. Because from Dave Montgomery to Dave Bell, this team does not want me, or you, or your granny as a fan. If they do, they sure have a funny way of showing it.

And that's Part 1 of why, come October, I put on my Pedro shirt (lent to Zach because right now he needs it more) and root for the Sox. Not to say I don't follow them through the season, but 1. One of these years the Phils will get it together, and I'll watch 85 games a season just in case; and 2. They aren't on TV enough in Philly.

Part two is my Dad, who grew up in the shadows of McCoy Stadium, boasting a hundred ways to sneak into the home of the Pawsox. Things briefly improved sportswise as my parents lived in California while the A's were dominant, and since my Dad strongly believes in supporting your home club he was able to squeeze a few wins out of that. But the pendulum always swings the other way, and my parents moved back east to inherit a quartet of the most hopeless teams around. So they're in my blood. A bit.

The last piece is the team. With the combination of Fenway's mystique, Big Papi's smile, Varitek's "C," Wally, and Manny being "happy to be back," the current Red Sox incarnation is impossibly lovable, even if they did make a few personnel errors over the past 10 months. This is a team that wants you to support them, to live and die with them. This is why Phillies fans are portrayed in the media as hard-luck losers, and Red Sox fans are a "nation."

Recapping the season, my biggest problem was the release of Cabrera. I never understood what was wrong with Orlando. He was like an old hooker: cheap, funny, and always there in the clutch. So, they bring in Renteria, who is promptly issued a glove with an eight-inch hole in the netting, and then puts together a beautiful 30-error, .720 OPS season (9 more errors and .6 more points than David Bell!).

Then they trade the slumping Mark Bellhorn, to the Yankees! I realize that Theo is trying to be progressive here, but have a heart, man. There are some things you just don't do. If he was reluctant to triple-A assignment, couldn't they have gotten Curt to make up some stories about times they had out in Pawtucket?

In between stints in McCoy and trips to the DL, Schilling has done everything to alienate himself from the city short of pissing on the Monster while wearing a Yankees cap this season, all under the guise of "you said you'd love me forever." Well, the love affair has ended, and it's a hacksaw to his shin type miracle to get him back in the good graces in my eyes at least.

Their bullpen has been about as safe as a perforated condom, highlighted by the season-long erosion and eventual shut-down of Keith Foulke. Now they're in the playoff run with four shaky starters and a group of five relievers that at best could be considered "shaky." I don't think there's one guy in the group that you'd feel happy with for more than three batters at a time. Making matters worse, because of their lack of bullpen depth, they can't take advantage of matchup problems, magnfied by the fact that they Mike Myers is their only lefty outside of David Wells.

Now they've got problems. Down 0-2 to a group of free fallers, they return home for two must win games on the arms of some old horses. And you know what? I'm absolutely certain they're gonna pull it out. The players have been there before, well, some of them. All the fans from last year's ALCS Game 4 morgue scene know what can happen with a little luck and a stolen base or two.

But it all comes back to #1 rule of why you shouldn't panic in the playoffs. Everyone in the playoffs, except the NL west, is a good team. Good teams win at home, especially when the chips are on the table. So big deal if the ChiSox took two in Comerica; they're walking into a brick wall in Fenway. From the second they get off the plane to the minute they reboard shaking their heads tied 2-all, the fans will be all over them. See, in the northeast, people don't take off work to go to the beach, or lay out in the park. It's cold and shitty all the time, so you don't waste your sick days in the summer. You save them for the playoffs, so you can lose your mind on a more complete level. These people live for this. Oh, and there's no way Papi makes it through the series without a 440-foot blast, so that'll be that. They've dug themselves deep, but this year the Sox know how to climb back out.

So I would love to be a Phillies fan, but when the mist is flying and the knuckleball is diving, the difference between a team built to win and one built to fall becomes more and more obvious. And if I'm wrong, at least the Yankess have to count on Wang, Chacon, Flash.


zach said...

No doubt, they get the next two, and Bronson gets the ball in Game 5 like he should have in Game 1. (Matt Clement was a worthless acquistion, although as a line drive magnet he might be useful as a position player (not that he can field his own...), and his time with the Red Sox this year is done. I don't care how far they get, the next time you see Clement is next year or mopping up a 20-1 win or loss).

A few things worth mentioning beyond:
1) Youth. One of the best parts of the Sox right now are the three young pitchers, Craig Hanson, Manny Del Carmen, and the almighty, Roger Clemensesque Johnathon Papelbon, who is more reliable than even Mike "I can't get outs with men on base" Timlin. If they go anywhere he will be the Frankie Rodriguez of this postseason.
2) I don't understand what people have against Schilling, besides the fact that he talks too fucking much. If he's got a sin, it's pride, as he had no business trying to come back too soon, but let no one forget how he injured the thing in the first place and what he did with the injury the first time around. When it counts, he'll get the win, that's just his game. People killing this dude in Boston honestly have no idea what they're talking about.
3) Bellhorn wins a game this postseason with a homerun from the left side. I just pray that game is not against the Sox.

Hal said...

I love players with unearthly amounts of pride. I really think it's the supreme factor in getting a few guys over the top. But it can also spell an athlete's demise. Curt's pride carried him through a horrific injury last year, and although I'm sure the doctors told him he wouldn't be the same this year, that's the kind of thing that pride doesn't let you hear. Come Saturday, I think it will be his pride again that makes him think he can get a couple pitches by when another pitcher would know that he's not fooling anyone. There comes a point where your body just won't listen to your mind anymore, and I hope Schill is 3 months away and not 10 months past that point.

zach said...

Pedro was like this: All preseason you'd hear about how his fastball was down, he couldn't break 88, and then the season opener he'd come out, throw nothing but 88 mph fastballs, and get rocked. That was pride, that was basically stupid, although his control was so fine he got away with it half the time. Schilling I see as having pride about winning, not about blowing something by somebody. He'll do what he needs to do to get somebody out. I'm sure he can't do what he'd like to, and he hasn't had great stuff except maybe once this year, but I feel like his whole thing is just figuring out another way.

Anonymous said...

sox will lose TONIGHT

druff city said...

touching story hizzle... but i believe you shot your load a little too early on this one... say what you will about our payroll full of bad steinbrennar contracts, we never got swept out of the first round the year after winning a title... one. hit. wonders.

this lovable bunch of poopdicks of yours celebrates a title by having jimmy fallon make out with drew barrymore on their field, then they all get together to go on queer eye, how sweet. i lost all respect for varitek when he went after the biggest homo in professional sports with a steel mask on his face, i still love manny and ortiz though. but itll be another 86 years before hell freezes over again.

stick with the phils, at least lieberthal provided you with a sweet bat shard.

go (insert this weeks eagle's opponent here)!

Hal said...

Man, I was way off.

Phlintern4 said...

Hey Hal, you're like psychic or something!
Do you think you could tell me the winning powerball numbers for this weekend's drawing? I'll split the jackpot with you.