"Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned but heaven hath no sweetness like a sports fan vindicated." - Samcat

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

It's time for a heart to heart

This is not the Keith Foulke face we like to see. This Keith Foulke face makes us cry. Why do you want us to cry, Keith? Why?

Now you boys listen here. No, you listen up. Manny, I’m talking to you too. Stop chasing butterflies and pay attention. Ahem. Okay, see, there’s only so much love mojo I can give you. And I do not like being made to feel as if I didn’t love you enough. Because that is simply not the case. I was wearing the Tek shirt, albeit under a sweatshirt but I’ve had a cold and had the chills and I believe I can be exempted on that reason. I mean, if Billy doesn’t have to pinch hit for Ramon because he has the sniffles, I sure as hell can get away with wearing a Sox sweatshirt over the Tek shirt. So I don’t want to hear your whining. Besides, Jason is not the problem. Reed Johnson has now been indoctrinated into the Eric Byrnes school of baserunning. Good job, Jason. You’re free to go.

Don’t you all roll your eyes at me. Bellhorn! You either. If you sit there, be quiet and pay attention, you can heave Cheetos later on. Okay, good. Now, what do we do with the first pitch? Anyone? Anyone know the answer? Stop looking around for Nomar, boys. He’s not here. He’s hitting .163 in Chicago right now so he’s not going to be a whole lot of help to you. The answer, since we obviously need a refresher, is NOT SWING! We DO NOT swing at the first pitch! Unless it’s a really good one. But you know what? You clearly can’t comprehend the finer points so we’re going to just say no swinging at the first pitch. You step into the box and the pitcher starts his windup, I don’t so much as want to see that bat move off your shoulder. Just because you’re facing a former Cy Young winner does not mean you need to make his job easy. You showed no mercy against Randy Johnson last week, I want the same killer instinct against everyone. So, all together now, no swinging at the first pitch! Got it? Good.

Now, this one is specifically for you outfielders there. You, Manny and Johnny and Trot. No, Jay Payton, you’re fine. You did nothing wrong. You can go salsa dance with Papi in the corner until I need you. Okay, boys, now, what happens when a fly ball comes towards us? What do we do? No, Johnny, the answer is not “run into the nearest obstacle ensuring a concussion.” Manny? Do you know? No, not “fall to the ground as though you’ve been hit by a sniper.” Christ, didn’t any of you play Little League? Trot? That’s right, “call for it.” Call for the ball. A simple “I got it” will do. But for heaven’s sake, do not call for it if you’re not going to catch it. And back off when someone else calls for it. It’s a simple concept, boys. We like sharing. We want to share the fly balls. We do not all run to the same spot and try to catch the same ball, tripping over each other in the process so that the ball rolls to the wall, a hundred yards away from the tangled mass of outfielders, giving the batter an inside the park home run. That is not how we play. We share. More sharing. Yes, Manny. I know you hit that very, very far. That was a good job. But you still have to catch the balls when they’re hit to you.

Okay, now, Papi? Actually, no, you’re fine. You’ve done nothing wrong. If you could maybe, I don’t know, hit at least two of those bombs every game to pick up your team who appear to be attempting to hit 93 mph fastballs with wet noodles, that’d be great. But I understand. Even Superman can only do so much. Go back to dancing with Jay Payton. Why don’t you teach him Lando’s handshakes?

Who do we have left here? Oh yes, Edgah. Don’t try to hide behind Millar, I have words for him as well. We’ll get to that. Now, Edgah, I knew you just needed some tough love. I understand you probably had no idea what you were getting yourself into voluntarily checking into the asylum. I know, it’s a crazy nuthouse in there. But don’t be scared. Everything will be okay. Millar is gonna make you sing country songs every now and then and Manny will probably give you a hot foot or two but just roll with it. Oh, and the Wall is your friend. Embrace the Wall. Steve assures me that you’ll be a good Fenway hitter and the Wall will be good for you. I’m going to listen to him. So just smile a bit more. And keep making those smooth plays at short. We’re never going to forget The O.C. but that’s not your fault. It’s okay, we are learning to love you.

All right, Kevin, what’s the problem? I certainly hope you were paying attention when I went over the whole not swinging at the first pitch thing. Because if not, this is going to be a very long season and we’re going to have to have this talk a few too many times. I’d rather not. And it’s good that you’re always willing to talk to the media. Really, that’s a good thing. But every now and then, a “no comment” will work as well. Really, if you need a breather, we understand. That goes for all of you.

Johnny! What did I just say? Shut off the camera and stop talking into that hairbrush! Pay attention! You, Mr. Damon, are about thisclose to pissing me off something fierce. You’re walking a razor’s edge, buddy and I’ve just about had it with you. How’s about this? No more talking to the media. No more interviews. No more books. No more contract year talks. No more hedging. No more Yankee loving. No more commercials and for the love of all things holy, no more godforsaken Puma ads! None of it. Put them all away in your little offseason bag and leave them there until the season is over. Put your wife in there too. We’ve had just about enough of her and her, um, assets. Now, just play baseball. You can do this. You’ve done it before. And if you must strike out – and I would prefer you didn’t – can you make it look a bit less feeble? I mean, really, even Bellhorn tries. Also, buy a thesaurus, I am tired of hearing you say “awesome.”

Mr. Foulke, I’ve saved you for last. Now listen, I’m tempted to send the rest of your teammates out of the room so they don’t have to listen to me yell at you and make you cry but this might just toughen all of you up. What’s the deal, man? Did I piss you off personally? What’s going on? Do you not have a calendar at your house? Yeah, well then I would suggest you look at it and realize that it is not, in fact, still spring training and these games do actually count. As in, you need to win them. Many of them. As many as possible. And when you are called into the game it is your explicit purpose to not give up any runs. That is your only job. You don’t have to hit the ball or field the ball very often. You don’t even have to argue with the umpires, you have a catcher who’s more than happy to do that for you. What you do have to do is not give up hits and not let the other team score runs. You also have to not give me heart attacks. I’m a young woman, Keith, but I am aging ten years for every hit you give up. Keep it up and you’ll be pitching before a park full of corpses. Now, I don’t know what your problem is but I suggest you figure it out right quick. Heather is already drawing up the papers for a divorce and Beth, while she is still selflessly offering to bear your children, is none too happy with your performance of late either. I know it’s tough and sometimes this game is hard but I suggest you go with Amy’s mojo and, as she says, “grab your nuts and strike this motherfucker out!” You are Keith Balls of Steel Foulke! Listen to your entrance music if you need to. Do whatever you have to do. But be Nails. Just do it. I don’t care how.

Okay, boys, are we all clear now? Do we know our jobs? Yes, Manny, your job is still to hit the ball very, very far. I know you hit a car. I saw it. It was lovely. Keep doing that. Everyone else got it? Good. We've got two games against Baltimore who just came off a sweep of the formerly fearsome Yankees and they don't care one whit about what you did six months ago. I want to see killer instinct! I want to see Balls of Steel! I want to see wins! All right, I'm glad we had this talk. Now, let's go win us some ballgames!