I’ll get to the NFL tomorrow. I want to congratulate the Tampa Bay Rays for their win last night. They really were the better team as evidenced by the incalculable number of opportunities the Red Sox squandered.
Maybe it was me, but every time the Sox had a rally going one of the following players strolled to the plate: David Ortiz, Jason Varitek, or Mark Kotsay. Combined average in the series for all three? .061. Or something close to that.
When TBS put up some ridiculous stat that Kotsay - all by himself - had stranded over 14 baserunners in the series, I groaned out loud. Who knew we’d miss Mike Lowell that much? In essence, the Sox subbed Kotsay for Lowell. Ouch.
Not that it’s Kotsay’s fault by any means. The Rays were the better team. Pounced on pitching mistakes, homering more often than any other ALCS team in history. Their bullpen (with the games 2 & 5 the exceptions) was great and this young Tampa team maintained enough maturity to end the reign of the Boston Red Sox. We will have a new champion this year.
No, losing never gets easier. I used to think that the two championships would tie me over for years such as this, but it really doesn’t help all that much. Takes the sting out a bit, but it still sucks. I’m glad the long suffering Tampa fans (all 15 of them) will now have their chance to actually enjoy baseball for once. But losing to them still sucks. I wanted to squeeze one more ring out of this team. Thought they might pull it off, too, but it wasn’t to be. This Rays team is just a better all around team and the Sox are either too injured or too old to keep up with them.
But let us dispense with the negativity. We just won the Series last year and we gave the Rays a run for their money and probably caused more health problems in the elderly Tampa fan base than any team in history by forcing a game 7. When the bases were loaded in the eighth and Maddon kept bringing in pitcher after pitcher, the Tampa fans look like they might vomit or cry.
Of course, everyone in the greater Boston area knew Varitek would strike out. We were hoping for a soaring, majestic home run but he used that one rare hit up in game 6. No way he was doing it two games in a row. Just wasn’t possible. Not with this version of Tek batting. Even my eight year old groaned when he came up earlier in the game. 'Here we go. He's either going to strike out or pop up'
He popped up.
So let’s gain some perspective on this past Red Sox season and hopefully end it feeling much better about the season that was.
Here are some positives about the Red Sox season being over.
Sleep: I can now get some. I broke my own vow and stayed up until midnight hoping the Sox would crush the collective Tampa area’s will to live. I’m exhausted, plain and simple. Now that the Sox are done, I can watch just bits and pieces of the World Series and get plenty of sleep. That’s what SportsCenter is for, after all.
Besides, I have another reason for getting to bed early. I’ll get to that later.
Ortiz Can Heal: There was a moment in last night’s game that will show you how little faith I now have in Ortiz. He came up with men on first and second in the eighth inning and hits a slow dribbler to the second baseman. They get Crisp at second, but don’t have enough time to get Ortiz for the double play.
The announcers discuss pinch running for Ortiz and say ‘You don’t want to pinch run for him, because you want his bat in the lineup in case this goes to extra innings.’
From my couch in Boston I say ‘YOU DO???!! Get him the fuck out!’ Ellsbury would have been the perfect option, but the Sox do nothing.
Look, I know Ortiz has a history of clutch hitting, but he’s been living on that reputation since July. He’s obviously hurt more than any of us know and I’m expecting an ‘Ortiz has wrist surgery’ news item any minute now.
There is a fine line between playing hurt and being labeled a ‘warrior’ and playing hurt and becoming a hindrance to your own team. Ortiz was the latter. He couldn’t catch up to any fastballs and looked foolish on anything towards the outer part of the plate. I cringed watching him the last few weeks.
Did I mention he was our number 3 hitter? No? Did I mention that despite his struggles, Francona wouldn’t even contemplate sitting Ortiz or even moving him around in the lineup? No? Well, that’s what happened. God forbid Francona swap Drew and Ortiz in the order. Or even better Ortiz and Bay. That would be sacrilegious! This is Big Papi we’re talking about! You can bet that game 5 home run made Francona feel vindicated, but it really shouldn’t have. Ortiz was struggling through out the playoffs and Francona did nothing.
Now, at least, Ortiz can rest the wrist, get surgery if he needs it and be ready and healthy for next year.
That is, of course, is if he is really hurt and just hasn’t lost it completely. I’m going with the injured theory so I can sleep at night.
No More Varitek At Bats: As horrendous as Ortiz was, Varitek was even worse. I know, I know, he hit a home run. Bug fucking whoop! It was also the only hit in the entire series! The only hit. His average at the end of last night wound up being in negatives, he was that bad. When Price came in and hit 97 on the gun, I thought ‘Oh, shit! There is no way Varitek is going to catch up to that!’ Keep in mind I think Price was pitching to Kotsay at the time and I had already resigned myself to the fact he was going to do nothing.
When Varitek did come to bat, it was fastball, slider, fastball, fastball and he was out on strikes. Sad how far and how fast a hitter can decline. Hey! Maybe he’s hurt, too!
Beckett Can Heal: Now see, here is a player who played hurt AND helped his team. By the fifth inning in game 6, Beckett was visibly stiff and in pain. Still, the bullpen sucked it up and covered him the rest of the way. Hopefully this isn’t a lingering issue for him and he can get things back to normal.
Lowell Can Heal: Sensing a trend with this Sox team? Forget the Manny trade. This is the player the lineup missed more than anyone. You telling me Lowell would have left 14 or more runners on base in this same series? No fucking way. He would have hit at least two home runs, driven in 5-9 runs and this would be a different series. Lowell had surgery already and will be ready by spring training.
The Offseason Begins In Earnest: The Red Sox front office can start finding ways to improve this team. CC Sabathia is out there, reports are filtering down that the Padres are looking to trade Peavy, Ben Sheets (officially named ‘the Oft Injured Ben Sheets’) might be worth a gamble, and they’ll have to either resign Varitek or figure out other catching options. The future is now the focus.
My Weight Loss Program Begins: I was going to have a severe conflict of interest if the Sox went to the World Series. As it turns out I’m officially kicking off my ‘Get in prime shape’ tomorrow. It was going to start today, but I put it on hold because of one very specific reason: Money. Lots of money.
By sheer coincidence, a guy at work sent out an email challenging everyone to a weight loss competition. Here are the rules:
Everyone throws in $100 and we all get weighed in on the same scale on the same day. After that the contest is ON! You need to lose 1% of your weight every week for 10 weeks. Or until the end of the year. Whoever hits that 10% splits the pot. There are 22 people in this thing which makes that said pot at least $2200.
I say at least because there is another potential fee involved. If you don’t lose your 1% in any given week, you pay another $20. Talk about motivation! However, if you manage to lose more than 1% in any week it carries over to the next week. As long as you maintain or don’t gain, you’re still good.
Here’s why this works out well for me – I was already in the workout mode until about 2 weeks ago and was up to running 2 miles a day. I wound up getting sick but am now back and ready to go. I was going to start back to the gym this past weekend, but held off until I get weighed around noon today.
Once I get weighed, I’m hitting the gym every morning (or at least 3-4 times a week) and cutting down on all the junk food I eat.
In fact, you could say I binged a bit to get my weight up a bit. Many beers, pizza, calzones, all the good stuff. I should be a hefty starting weight to start this thing off but still have my conditioning to get rid of it quickly. Especially if I cut out beer during the week. Big IF there, by the way.
My big problem was going to be staying away for the Sox games during the World Series and making it to the gym the next morning. I can tell you that one or the other was going to lose and it probably wouldn’t be the Red Sox games.
So thank you, Red Sox. Thanks for a great season, thanks for defending your crown nobly and fighting up until the last out despite all the injuries that pestered you all year.
You’ve made Boston proud once again.
See you next year!
Today’s distraction: If you missed SNL this past weekend (yeah, I actually stayed up for it!) here is a classic Weekend Update bit with Sarah Palin. She handled herself well and this rap is hilarious.