30 October 2008

The 2008 Baseball Season: 3/25/08-10/29/08

With wet eyes, we lay to rest the memorable 2008 Major League Baseball season. Although its life was robust, the only survivors were the Philadelphia Phillies. (Sniffle.) Perhaps the most lugubrious aspect of ending something as wonderful as baseball fanaticism is finding a new hobby to fill the chasm of vacuous time made available in the evening hours. Really- I have invested much in my team and the sport over the past seven months- and now that it's over I don't quite know what do do with myself. The wall has been looking ever more attractive the longer I look at it, and I think it's even changing shades slightly, but there's no way I can continue staring at it for another five months. I need something else instead, like a girlfriend, or a puppy, or even a chef would do. Just something to get my mind off of America's Pasttime. Allow me to ever so briefly recap some highlights from the season. It all began at 4am on March the 25th, in Provo, UT. The BoSox were in Japan playing the Athletics (who perhaps should be named the "Unathletics" after this season). Don't ask why they were in Japan (What? You want to know why? Alright, I'll just tell you- David Ortiz wanted some fresh Ramen). My roommates and I woke up in the middle of the night to watch the game. When it ended around 7am we went to school. Another memory: Midway throught the season Coco Crisp charged the mound eliciting a heated brawl in a Rays/Red Sox game. Perhaps the biggest event of the year was the hejira of Manny to L.A. After 7.5 years in a Sox uniform, he left for the West Coast. And in his place came Jason Bay- to the Bay state. The Sox season ended with the Red Sox staging an incredible comeback (see earlier post) in game 5, only to lose in game seven of the ALCS. I had my hopes for the Phillies, who finished out the season as the lone survivors. They deserved it though. After all, they have over 10,000 losses in their history (that's a skill on a whole new level..), and they are from the city of Brotherly Love. They have only won the World Series once since ante 1890, and it's about time they got another trophy. Well, we will miss the baseball season, and watching the wall is no substitute, so if you have any suggestions please inform me immediately. Hmm, I remember that corner being a little lighter yesterday...

26 October 2008

Democracy At Its Finest

I am a patriotic citizen of America. I may not have a red, white, and blue striped tophat like Uncle Sam, and in fact I don't even have an American flag in my room, but I do love this country (see my posts titled America the Beautiful: Part I & II). This week on Thursday I received my absentee ballot from the Town Clerk's office in Belmont, MA, much to my anticipation and delight. I have never been so excited to receive a piece of mail in my life (...not entirely true...). I furiously ripped it open and perused the ballot quesions and the candidates. I found the questions to be very interesting; I got to vote against dog racing, for penalities for drug offenses, for a state tax decrease, and for the next president of the United States of America, and other representatives. And I'm only 22! How sweet is that? Voting is democracy at its finest. Now, a word to those who say, "My vote doesn't matter" or "I'm from a Republican state, the Republicans will win no matter how I vote." Do not say that in my presence- ever. Your vote is not just a vote. Your vote is a right granted to you by the Founding Fathers and God. Your vote is freedom. Your vote is an expression of individuality and a powerful way to say "Dangit! I have a say in how this country is run, even if I am not the majority!" Your vote is a precious, respected opinion that Uncle Sam cares about. If you argue that all the candidates or representatives do not represent you, then write a name in that does represent you. Americans, let us never, ever forget our God-given right to vote in this country. Get out there and let your voice be heard! If not, you will have to face my wrath, which includes a fierce game of Scrabble.

18 October 2008

The Best Baseball Game of the Season: Red Sox/Rays: Game 5

Wow, if you didn't see the Red Sox/Rays game 5 of the ALCS on Thursday night (10/16/08), you need to stop reading this post and go watch it, from the seventh inning on. No seriously, it was that good. I will give you a minute to stop reading this and pull up another browser and search for the game.

Now that you are up to speed, let's continue. The experience of Thursday night is dear to my baseball heart, and was the single greatest baseball ALCS comeback in 79 years. Previous to the game, the Red Sox were losing the series 3 games to 1, meaning that this game 5 was an elimination game. It was the 171st game of the season for the BoSox, and possibly the last. To say things started rocky would be a litotes- Daisuke got worked, good. The bullpen didn't offer much assistance either, and two hours into the game the Sox were losing 7-0. Did you know that the last time the Red Sox got shut out at home in the postseason was in 1918? But no, not this year, not in our house! Booyah! With two outs in the seventh, and men at 1st and 3rd base, MVP-candidate Pedroia stepped up to the plate. He worked a good count, and hit a single, eliminating a shutout and setting the stage for a Papi blast. And that, my good friends, is exactly what happened. David Ortiz, the Gojilla of baseball, absolutely creamed a Grant Balfour pitch into the right field bleachers, scoring behind two other baserunners. I bet Grant Balfour had wished he had in fact granted a ball four to Papi! (That's a Dave original, and has been my favorite joke of this series.) The seventh inning ended with the score still 7-4. But now it was time for the bullpen to wake the heck up. Papelbon, the most intense closer you will ever see in your life, shut the Rays down and primed the game for an unbelievable Red Sox comeback. In the eighth inning, the "Wheel"-er came loose (My second favorite series joke, if you don't get it, don't worry about it) and Bay walked on four straight pitches. Then Drew, the beloved and silent Drew, stepped up to the plate and absolutely destroyed a pitch to the same location as Ortiz' the inning before! HA HA! "Bedlam in Boston" as TBS claimed. All of a sudden it was 7-6 Rays. Do you think we were done?! NEVER. After Lowrie flied out and Casey struck out (2 outs, we do our best work with 2 outs), Mark Kostsay got a double (which bounced off Upton's glove in centerfield). Then it was Coco Crisp's turn. Yes, for all you baseball non-aficionados, his name is Coco Crisp (Covelli Crisp actually). Coco had an enduring 10 pitch battle with Wheeler before he got a hit on the 11th pitch and scored Kotsay, tieing the game. Masterson, the young, tall, strikingly handsome, high-Red Socks-wearing reliever came on in the 9th, and forced the Rays to hit into a double play, and pretty much just shut them down. Now for the top of the ninth. Keep in mind, I was going insane at this point of the game. I couldn't stand still; I was pacing all over, bouncing my knees, fiddling with my keys, blinking uncontrollably and talking incessantly. In the top of the ninth, with two outs (I love 2 outs...) Kevin Youkilis got to second base on a gift, with J.D. Drew up again. That amazing, emotionless J.D. Drew. And can you guess what he did? HE SMACKED THE BALL INTO RIGHT FIELD SCORING YOUKILIS! The Red Sox won the game! They won! They won! They won! They won! It was utter bliss! I went nutso with my brother and our friends! Oh wow, that was a game for the ages. But you know that, you watched it.

12 October 2008

My Love for Baseball: A Brief Disquisition (Part II)

Now that I've spoken of the pitcher/batter struggle, allow me to postulate on the beautiful aspect of the human element in baseball. While most sports are cut and dry, black and white, baseball is not. No play in baseball (except maybe a ground rule double) is set in stone. The umpire plays a role in every single play. Even when it appears obvious, the ump must call a homerun a homerun before it can be put in the record books. Players, fans, and managers alike hold their breath in anticipation with each play in the field to learn how it will be scored. Was that an error or a hit? (In the case of C.C. Sabathia on 9/1/08, this was a really big deal.) Or take the case of the Red Sox game on August 5, 2008, when the 'homerun' ball rolled along the fence before it was knocked back into play by the outfielder. Was that a homerun or not? It was just bizzare. Strikezones change (as in the case of the Sox/Rays game on 10/11/08), and outfields are unique in each ballpark. I love it! In Houston, the Astros have a legitimate hill in center field, waiting like a hungry alligator for its unsuspecting prey. Fenway has the Monstah, Wrigley has the ivy, Petco has the bay, and the Trop has the catwalks. Safeco has a retractable roof, and BOB (Bank One Ballpark- Diamondbacks) has air conditioning What may be a homerun in one park is a double in another. Fenway has lots of nooks and cranneys for the ball to roll into, adding yet another element. And then consider the fans! Oh my gosh, the fans! What other sport do you have where the spectators can reach out and mess up a play, or do nothing at all so as to assist the outfielder in his fielding? Boston fans are proudly vivacious, and they know when to interfere with a popup. Baseball has a beautiful and sometimes inconsistent human element to it, which just makes it that much better!

08 October 2008

My Love For Baseball: A Brief Disquisition (Part I)

It's Autumn, and that means Fall Ball/Postseason/Playoffs- Babay. I'm delayed in writing this post, seeing as the first round of the playoffs is already in the past, but boy was it great! Last Sunday I spent five (5) hours watching a back-and-forth game between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim play the Boston Red Sox. In twelve solid innings, the Angels' score surpassed the Red Sox' score, and they won (that's usually how sports work). There will be more on the specific postseason in later posts, but for now I want to just express my love for baseball. First off, every pitch is a furious battle between the pitcher and the batter. An absolute battle. The well-studied catcher calls the shots, and the pitcher approves them. Meanwhile, the batter does his best to avoid getting deceived and strike out. He has less than half a second to see the ball leave the pitcher's hand, determine where it's going to be when it arrives at the plate, decide if he wants to swing or not, and then take action. If he is too late or too early, he will hit a foul ball or receive a strike. And that happens with every single pitch. Now, once the ball is in play, just think of all the possibilities! It could go to the outfield, stay in the infield, get caught, foul off, blast out of the park or be grounded right to a player. It's amazing to me that there are so many close plays at first base. I mean, think about it, who knew, or how many trial and errors did it take to know that if 1st base was exactly 90 feet away from home plate, there would always be a close play at the bag? It's genius! Baseball is just a perfect hybrid between individual effort and team effort. You can't win by yourself, but you certainly can sway an entire game the other way with one swing of the bat. Each team has 162 games spanning six (6) months to improve and prove themselves worthy to keep playing for a seventh. Right now, there are only four teams that have proved worthy. Go Red Sox! Obviously this post is just scratching the surface, but I hope it gives you an idea as to why October is one of the twelve best months of the whole year, easily!