Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sometimes It Rains

April is the cruellest month. And it doesn't take a brick-company boss's son from the Midwest with a fake erudite accent to tell us that. April surprises, every year, dealing frosty, miserable days that encourages us to throw good money after bad. It brings equal parts promise and uncertainty; all is called into question. Will the buds remember their birthright? Will the pastel green deepen? Will Keven Youkilis's bat start devouring fastballs like they were cocktail weiners off the sample table at Wegman's?

My baseball team, like a bunch of sullen teenagers, has refused to live up to its potential. It's ok, though, 'cause it's all part of the Master Plan. The Red Sox do not respond to hype. The Red Sox, like an interested yet somewhat ambivalent lover, have to marinate for a while before gelling. And you can't rush richness.

I'm thinking yesterday's rain delay is the beginning of a turn-around. It might be a slow-burn, but our coal scuttle overfloweth, and the haze of a wet season is about to evaporate. Compare it to a pot of boiling water. Well, everyone's been watching, and you know what that does. It SEEMS like the boil will never achieve; actually it's inevitable--as reliable as applied heat pushing the mercury to 212 degrees Farenheit. Jon Lester will solve the corners, the left-handed flea that the Leading Player knows you want to be. Matsuzaka will compartmentalize the after-shocks and will at least break even on quality starts. John Lackey will seek as many audiences as it takes with the Dalai Lama until he amasses the necessary chi to shrug off not only Salty's first-year skittishness, but also his unfortunate surname. Tim Wakefield, a Prospero on the mound, will lead his dear friends once more unto the breach, with wow and flutter, and surpass Roger Turncoat Clemens for the most wins at Fenway. Clay Buchholz will reject the Psalms and inherit the earth via intimidation and ungodly breaking balls.

It's the same with my kid. He's on unfamiliar ground, too--10- and 11-year-olds grouped together for the first time; the ball's coming in appreciably harder than last year. He's braver than he realizes, though. There was a defining moment in last-week's scrimmage, his team down a fistful of runs, when he dug in against a gnarly looking older kid. After taking a ball, he fouled off the next pitch and his bench erupted, "YEAH! THAT'S RIGHT!! HE AIN'T SO BAD!!" That at-bat ended in a hit. His squad was annihilated at the end of 6 innings, but the take-away was that It Could Be Done, this baseball business. His swing is so sweet and he doesn't even really know it. And his team is just starting to gel. Like Spring. Like New Love. And like the 2011 Red Sox.

We know what we're doing, actually, but we forget. In the Spring we learn to trust again, and May rewards us, lush and gorgeous. May urges us to use the word "redolent," in a sentence, and to worship the brevity of the fiddlehead fern, and the shortening nights. Don't miss the crescent moon--how many more will wink at you?

Thanks for reading, and always keep in mind that what's inevitable will reveal itself, in time. Meanwhile, bring an umbrella

Friday, April 8, 2011

Game On!!!

YEAH!! Sorry I'm late. Boston v. Yankees coming up -- I'm pumped.

Currently 45 degrees and near zero humidity in Boston. Home Opener v. the Yankees is a little more than an hour away. Spirits high, and visibility at 10 miles, which is about what they'll need to clock the ball when David Ortiz hits the snot out of Phil Hugh's alleged starting pitching.

Even though we no longer have Curt Schilling, we still have Jesus on our side, because John Lackey kinda looks like Schilling. From a distance. Of more than 10 miles. (Uncoincidentally the distance to which the search teams also need must fan out, in order to recover the ball stuffings after an utterly nonplussed Adrian Gonzales fouls off 12 pitches only to casually swat the 13th out, like a fifth grader might disinterestedly pull the wings off a fly.)

I figure Jesus is watching the game from more than 10 miles away, so I'm cautiously optimistic. Not that the Red Sox have to fool Jesus in order to win a game in the 2011 season, but as any Red Sox fan--or true literary man, as famously observed by John Cheever--will tell you, we win games the old-fashioned way: any friggin' way possible.

The faith of Red Sox fans is unswerving and universal. Pretty sure Ganesha is a Red Sox fan, and I defy anyone to find a more Confucian ball club than the one populated by the honorable sons of Fenway. Even though he shaved his beard recently to throw folks off the trail, it's no coincidence that you won't catch Dustin Pedroia and the Greek demigod Pan in the same dugout. Brother Jacoby Ellsbury has the entire Native American pantheon at his back, and now that Boston's divested themselves of Adrian "I BBQ the ribs of my own Outfielders" Beltre, I'm liking the fleet-footed Oregonian's chances. Only divinely-powered guys run that fast. I may even start calling him Princess Jacoby Oregonia. So I pay no attention to the fact he's batting 34th against the Yankees today--in act, I embrace it, because I Believe. I believe Kevin Youkilis's beguiling stance will snake-charm his way past mentally weak middle relief. I believe Jason Varitek will hang up his cleats after this season and start a critically acclaimed career starring in Jack Ryan spy thrillers. I Believe that Tim Wakefield is not actually 44 years old, but is actually the biblically referenced Wandering Knuckleball Pitcher and is actually 4400 years old. And, I Believe in all that stuff Crash Davis says in "Bull Durham"

1:52 p.m. The screen at MLB TV says "warming up" so I imagine it's a pretty exciting atmosphere at Fenway. My MLB TV media player thingy is trying to talk to the 1933 inter-war-period mother board that "powers" my portable computing device, and so I'll grab a cup while a "link" is "established."

As promised, Comment Moderation has been disabled.

1:58 p.m. Well, there's a TV within spitting distance from me, but I can't watch it, so I'm waiting for MLB to get its act together. Coming back from grabbing a cuppa joe I saw four F-16's  buzzing Fenway and a bunch of proud Americans in the most beautiful ballpark in the land. Good Stuff. Opening pitch mere moments away. We got John Lackey. They got Some Other Guy

2:05 p.m. The definition of irony, perhaps. I spend a pile of money for MLB TV and I can't seem to get a video feed on the game I've been looking forward to since the end of last fall, and STRIKE ONE BY LACKEY!!!!!! 0-2 ALREADY!! I do have a radio feed, however, and that's.... a Good Thing. Unbe-freakin'-lievable. Perhaps Jesus, Ganesha, Confucius, Pan, and more than 275 North American Native gods were not amused.....

First Inning: Gardner gets one for free, Jeter pops-up the bunt, Mark TaxiDermiaria fizzles, Lackey nearly nails Gardner at First before he eventually steals, A-Rod gets on somehow, probably in an enhanced fashion, Cano hits one out past Ellsbury and one of the F-16s circles back to drop a JBU-38 JDAM on the Yankee team bus.

2:22  Carl Crawford, Ladies and Gentlemen. Feel the fury of his .174 batting average for 2011!!!

homerun Dustin Pedroia!! Guy plays so hard his shin guard falls off while he's running out a homer!

End of the First  Hughes can walk a guy, too. Of course it was Youk's cobra cunning. Go figure. Papi gets a good swing. Only a matter of time.

Top of Second Curtis Grandstanderson takes advantage of Crawford's green play on the Green Monster. Lackey and Salty are not that into each other.. Lackey's given up 3 doubles. That's six bases, the same number as the Red Sox losses thus far -- further Numerology evidence that all things are related and I have nothing to fear.

111th Home Opener, live-blog "coverage," from my blacked-out laptop in NYC (thanks, MLB.TV! As if Boston fans in New York didn't have it hard enough...)

Feel free, both of you who are reading this, to post a comment just to make sure the damn thing's working...

2:45 A-Rod's apparently angling his body in the direction of Second... ooh... I'm oddly aroused. BASES LOADED BOSTON, BABY!

2:47 Improbably Scutaro drives in JD Nancy Drew. Hughes not out of the woods yet.


Here comes Big Papi. Hughes can't get the third out. Maybe he should look behind the couch.
aaaaaaaaaaand they finally get the third out in a rundown but not before we go up 6-4. I told me so.

3:00 Top of the Third Mark Tissue-iaria strikes out, A-Rod gets plunked and Lackey gives up a customary double to Cano

3:08 -- Sorry, I got like five things happening at once and since the Red Sox seem to be pretty efficient at getting outs, it all happened quickly. Some guy got thrown out by Scutaro, but another guy scored. 6-4 Red Sox, and Hughes is GONE JOHNSON! The other guy strikes out JD Nancy Drew to start the bottom of he third...

3:12 The other guy is Bartolo Colon who's dealing strikes like he was fencing a bunch of plasmas off the back of a truck.... at least Ellbury made some contact...

Top of the Fourth  Carl Crawford earns his keep with a sliding catch!

3:21 p.m. Researching meeting halls for inaugural meeting of the International Fraternal Order of "I Greatly Dislike Brett Gardner." Jeter drives in another one, but it's still 6-5 Red Sox.

3:27 p.m.  Lackey squeaks through the inning and heads to the dugout and asks Francona to send in relief so he can concentrate on weaving more human hairs into his Robinson Cano voodoo doll.

Bottom of the Fourth Colon retires the fourth and fifth guy in a row he's seen. If New York had just started him in the first place, they wouldn't be losing right. Typical Yankee Arrogance...

But here come's Pan Pedroia, a career .325 hitter at Fenway...... strikes out. S'ok. He's already contributed big time, not only to score, but also morale. Wonder who's gonna take the mound next for Boston.

AND... WHY IS IT JOHN LACKEY?! crap. Even I knew not to do that.... Homerun A-Scrod.  Tie game. Hm.

The Yankees' Third-String Catcher goes 0-2 before popping WAY up to Ellsbury. Colon due back.

3:43 Bottom of Fifth Yo Adrian clips one to Cano, and is thrown out. Youk snake-charms Colon for a walk. Ortiz is back, smelling blood with a reduced defensive shift...

PAPI CATCHES MARK TAXI-DERMIARIA SLEEPING! Youk to Third. JD Nancy Drew then pops up, like an anxious schoolgirl......

Salty KNOCKS ONE OFF THE GREEN MONSTER!!!!!! TRY THESE ON FOR SIZE, CONNIE CHUNG!!!!! 7-6, Red Sox. Swishy and Grandstanderson collide and nearly give up a two-run pop fly, but Curtis holds on, and we go to the Sixth.

3:55 Red Sox back on Defense. Lackey out, and Acheves-iss in relief. I have special respect for relief pitchers whose names I cannot spell. Alfredo I got, though. Almost like Alfred, the perfect gentleman butler for Bruce Wayne. So I'm calling this guy The Butler for the rest of the season.

4:00 Some guy named Russell Martin gets a base hit. Apparently he was very LA, hanging with celebs when he played on the Wrong Coast. The Butler is facing the Brett the Unpleasant. Goes to a full count. Walks. Martin leaves the bag at Second and calls in his publicist as a pinch runner.

4:07 Apparently every time Derek Jeter steps to the plate, we get to hear how many hits he has, again. Nauseating. He hits into a double-play. Muchos Better.

Bottom of the Sixth Carl Crawford strikes out. What I wouldn't give for Mikey Lowell right about now. Colon, who didn't pitch at all last year, retires the side. Again. With all this retirement, Dude's gonna start collecting a goddamn pension....Still 7-6 Red Sox

Top of Seventh With life, and all its responsibility calling, I'll need to sign off in order to take care of domestic issues. Hoping to make the 7th inning stretch before I head out the door. If there were anyone reading this, they might like the little surprise I've cooked up.....

New pitcher for the Sox --- Bobby Jenks BLOWS AWAY A-ROD AFTER PITCHING COACH VISITS THE MOUND. Yeah, Daddy.

Newsflash --- Manny Ramirez takes his ball and bat and goes home..... Apparently Manny needs to be Manny..... in a Barco-Lounger. Whatev. Guy deserves a nice stud retirement. Without so much Creatine.

Seventh Inning Stretch, and I Gots A Train To Catch --- Have a great baseball season! Thanks for reading, and remember: If you're reading, then I have a reader!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fooled by April (Or, the Rookie Strike Zone)

Somehow, the end of March fogged me up, with its renogade snow storms and relentless gray.

I missed chronicling high school basketball, I spaced out on Leonard Nimoy's 80th birthday (otherwise known as Blaiserblog's Second Blogiversary), and I completely missed sinking the calendrical boat with spinily barbed April Fool's witticisms. It's almost as if I've forgotten the basics...

I've been too distracted by the glorious return of baseball, possibly, and for my punishment, the hyperbolic Red Sox have gone 0-3 thus far in the 2011 season.

And so, I will make amends to the gods of ash and leather by attempting to live-blog the Sox Home Opener at Fenway Park versus.... Oh you know, Those Other Guys.

"Point" your browsers, your aluminum-foil-hat-antennae, and your birch water-dowsing sticks at this space on Friday, April 8. Coverage begins at 1:45 p.m. EDT. First pitch is rumored at 2:05, with the alleged John Lackey on the mound. (If it were me, I'd start Wakefield and call it a day.) I'll even be turning comment moderation off, so feel free to spout off, as one does.

In the meantime, rent yourself a VHS copy of "Bull Durham" and get hip to arguably the best result thusfar of this American Experiment we like to call home.* And go watch some spring ball in your neighborhood park diamond. They drafted me to umpire my kid's scrimmage the other day and I wound up calling six innings of balls and strikes to 5th and 6th graders. I loved it so much, I may foul-tip my way onto the Umpire Committe. Surprisingly, my son's still speaking to me, despite Saturday's elastic, rookie strike zone.

That's all any of us are doing, really--calling 'em as we see 'em. Life being what it is, hopefully we spray our mistakes in an even-handed manner.

Thanks for stopping by, and please remember that just because you can't buy my blog posts on the Home Shopping Network, it doesn't mean that the shrewd reader won't find an amazing deal on some deeply discounted prose. So poke around a bit.

* Undoubtedly among the most awful sentences I've ever written.