24 April 2005

BOS 11, TBY 3

BOS 11
WP- Bronson Arroyo (2-0)
LP- Hideo Nomo (2-2)
HR- M. Ramirez (6), D. Ortiz (7), N. Green (1), J. Payton GS (2)

"So what if I couldn't get the donut off the bat? So FUCKING WHAT?!"

After losing the first two games of the series in such frustrating fashion as to render me unable to recap them, the Sox needed this game really bad. No one should have to be swept by the Devil Rays.

Real ugly game. From the beginning of the series there was this odd vibe about it- the Sox and Rays have had a history dating back to Gerald Williams leading off the game with a HBP from Pedro and rushing the mound- with Petey then one-hitting them the rest of the way and Tampa pitching trying over and over and over again in desperately pathetic fashion to hit Brian Daubach, but unsuccessfully.

So when Scott Kazmir last year reacted to Pedro losing one on a Tampa Bay hitter's leg by hitting both Manny and Millar (and then getting tossed in a game he carried a no-hitter into the 6th), it wasn't a surprise, just a reincarnation of the unease these teams have for one another. Fast forward to this season, when this weekend Scott Kazmir plunked Millar and Manny again- 55 IP in the major leagues for Scott, 4 HBP. Manny, Millar, Manny and Millar. Hmm.

So next game, Schilling drilled Carl Crawford on the ass, a pitch that appeared intentional to me, at least. That appeared sufficient to end it right there, but on Sunday, it kind of erupted.

Basically, it started when Aubrey Huff, 2-for-2 on the day against Arroyo, 7-for10 lifetime, came up with no one on and 2 out. To whatever you ascribe Arroyo's reason- that Huff owned him, retaliation further for Kazmir- it was both intentional and pretty stupid. It was on his thigh and hardly the end of the world, with Huff taking it like a grown up and having 1B, but Bronson shouldn't have done it, plain and simple. The Rays were buzzing us all weekend, hitting us a number of times at Fenway last as well- but that HBP seemed too intentional NOT to draw a response, something that could have hurt one of our guys.

Then came Lance Carter. Never had much of an opinion on the guy- lone D-Ray All Star in 2003, decent relief pitcher. On Sunday though, he fancied himself Frontier Justice man. First, he threw behind Manny, unable to hit him with the pitch. Right then and there, it should have been over. You threw back at our guy, we get the point, fine. It's over. Moving on.

But then Carter gave Manny a fat, frightened fastball on the inner third, Manny drove it 415 feet, and Carter looked like a real jackass. So, embarassed, what'd Lance do? He threw at David Ortiz' head. Understandably, Papi got mad, but (thankfully) didn't get to the mound and Carter. The benches cleared, and while it didn't appear to be a real brawl at first, it got tense when Trot Nixon, jawing at Carter, was rushed at by Dewon Brazelton (winner of last year's Tony Conigliaro Award, vigorously defending a teammate who'd just thrown at a guy's head), who clawed at Nixon's face, eventually catching him in the eye. That enraged Nixon, which in and of itself isn't surprising considering it doesn't take much to enrage Trot (Mike and I can attest to that- we once saw him apoplectic over a weighted donut not coming off his bat).

So things cleared up, the inning ended, but you knew it wasn't over. It was pretty obvious that after a guy gets a ball thrown directly at his head (if Ortiz doesn't duck, he wears that ball on his temple), his pitcher will retaliate. Fine.

I just wish they had waited until they'd gotten two outs. As it was, with only a 3 run lead, Arroyo put the lead runner on- Chris Singleton- with a ball off the thigh. Arroyo was ejected, and eventually that run scored, cutting our lead to two. You can understand where Arroyo was coming from hitting Singleton there- he has to, at least in relation to his teammates, come back at the other team when they throw at our best guy's head. A couple notes too, about those beanings-
a) neither of Bronson's where at anyone's head
b) as Remy noted, "Arroyo hit a lot of batters last season, but this is certainly the first time, in all honesty, I can remember it being intentional, and that includes the A-Rod incident."

A lot of people, like Buster Olney, tried to shoehorn the Arroyo-hits-batters thing into the ARod incident from last season, but it's really not true and taking it totally out of context. That said, hitting the lead guy was dumb, end of story.

But it thankfully didn't matter. Trot Nixon, Bronson Arroyo, Terry Francona, Dewon Brazelton, Lance Carter and Lou Piniella were all ejected, and when Trot's replacement Jay Payton batted in the 8th, Sweetness LOST a pitch deep to left for a grand slam. David Ortiz got a nice chance to give a big "fuck you" back to the Devil Rays and their fans in attendance (including the mouthbreathers that cheered an ejected Lance Carter and jeered Ortiz after he struck out post-headhunt). Papi annihilated a Rob Bell fastball off one of the Trop's "charming" catwalks, flipping his bat defiantly (which he later apologized to John Kruk for, as it offends him greatly). That was sweet- two guys get thrown at, they both HR and make em pay. 11-3 Sox.

After the game, Brazelton was contrite and really a stand-up guy about it- Piniella, on the other hand, actually left me real disappointed. He seems like a real frustrated, pathetic guy these days. Used to be a great manager. Here's the story (read it, Ortiz' comments on Piniella are really, really interesting): Ortiz calls out Piniella as culprit.

"They might have gotten away; they might've not," Piniella said. `"Look, if they're going to hit our hitters, we certainly can do the same . . . We're not going to be intimidated, whether you're a world championship baseball team or not."

Here's Brazelton:

"I'm embarrassed I got thrown out of the ball game," Brazelton said. "Normally, when you go out there, it's a song and dance but in this case I was trying to protect our pitcher. Nobody wants to hurt anybody but we had just had two really hard-fought games and sometimes emotions get the best of you.

"I'm an educated fellow but that was uneducated. I really have more class than that." . . .

Listen, I get the whole "baseball code," or whatever that comes with hitting players, policing the game, all that. But it seems to me, as a non-athletic sissy writer-type, that throwing small projectiles at 90 MPH toward another human being is an exceptionally stupid way to settle differences. I'm sure if I said that to some former ballplayer or something, they'd tell me how little I understand the game- and yea, maybe they'd be right. It just sucks to think that it seems only a Tony C situation would force a shift in that somewhat Neanderthalic practice of meting justice out by hurling baseballs at people. Hey, I love a good brawl, and I think they're a nice unifying factor for a team on occasion- but infantile. Let's be honest.

Also, you know, at the end of the day, the Devil Rays are a pathetic joke of a baseball franchise, have been for their entire existence, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, as long as Naimoli and Chuck LaMarr are running the show. The Little Guy complex they showed all weekend was embarassing, and the sooner we forget about these clowns, the better. Not to be one-sided about this- I do think the Sox bear responsibility here, of course- but come on. The Devil Rays? They're our generation's St. Louis Browns. They're just a fucking joke, from top to bottom. Let's leave the last word on that to Ortiz:

"I play the game (the way) it's supposed to be played and I respect everyone, but I don't take (expletive) from nobody," Ortiz said.

On a happier note, it was fun seeing Edgar spoon-feed Ortiz applesauce, and then having Papi drop to the deck to do pushups as a result, Popeye style (whoa! Papi/ Popeye? Nickname!). Funny stuff. No doubt. No doubt in my mind.

I heard the new Weezer song, "Beverly Hills" over the weekend. That song, to be charitable and brief, fucking sucks. SUCKS. Ugh.

I mean, thinking of the first two Weezer records- great albums- and then of the post-Pinkerton work, it makes you mad. That green album (all 25 minutes of it), Maladroit, and this latest load of crap are just so disappointing. And boring. They just don't seem to give a shit anymore, and they definitely don't care if you notice, either. Just seems like Rivers Cuomo has some psycho behind the scenes pointing a gun at his head, lest he stop doing something he's clearly not interested in. Kids... they were great once.

I still love those first two albums, even with how badly they've pissed me off since- no small feat.

Beverly Hills/
That's where I want to BE!/
Beverly Hi-ills!

Mike posed for this picture, actually. Weird, huh?

This Friday, folks... GREASE IS IT!

And finally... email the new pope!

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