(photo from Boston.com)
I'm for serious not even kidding anymore about Alex Gonzalez being a superstar. Did you know he has eight home runs? That's right, eight. Including the one he hit last night off Oakland's Barry Zito (that saddest bastard that ever did live) to get the offense started for the Sox. If you had told me at the beginning of the season that Alex Gonzalez, who the Sox acquired for his defensive wizardry, would have a higher batting average than The Catcher and eight home runs a week after the All-Star Break, I would have assumed that was some excellent crack you were smoking and I would have inquired as to why you weren't sharing with the rest of the class.
But in reality, no drugs were needed. Unless you're Barry Zito. In which case, I don't know...'shrooms? I don't know what the kids are into these days. But even after being nothing less than "a magician" in the field (per The Rick) during the first half of the season and coming up with some pretty clutch hits as well, I'm still not sure we're paying enough attention to Gonzalez. Sure, we joke about how he loves it when we sing Nickelback's "Hero" to him (and if you even think I'm not gonna try to get to the Bon Jovi concert early on Thursday so I can thank Nickelback, the opener, in person, well, you just don't know me very well at all), but it's almost like he doesn't need it anymore. Can you imagine? Someone not needing our musical mojo. Madness!
Then there's Manny and Papi. Who continue to hit the everlovin' shit outta the ball. Just another day at the office.
You know, in the past, the Sox have reminded me a little bit of those St. Louis Rams teams of about 1999-2002. Yes, that's football. "The Greatest Show on Turf" they were called because of their ability for offensive explosions and dazzling displays of football athleticism. But their defense was for shit. Kind of like the Sox over the past handful of seasons. Well, except for that turf part because turf sucks, Toronto. But there was never any question that the Sox could bash the ball. It was when they had to stand on the field that there was a problem. It's like Big Papi has been known to say, "I ain't here for my glove." But in the past few years, starting with the Nomar trade in 2004, that's changed. And now, much to many people's surprise, the Sox boast one of the best defenses in the majors. We tied a major league record earlier this season by going 17 consecutive games without committing an error. These are things I never thought would be said about the Boston Red Sox unless it was backwards day in bizarro world. But man, is it fun to watch. It's like the sentiment that Sam so ingeniously crafted into a lovely t-shirt, "Fangirls dig the K, give me a good groundball pitcher with a solid infield defense." Sexy! And the Sox have not, as I thought they might, gone all glove and no bat on us. We've still got Manny and Papi acting like the baseball insulted their mothers and Trotter is not messin' around. But perhaps the best part is the offensive contributions from the defensive-minded part of the batting order. Gonzalez, Lowell and Loretta have given no one cause for concern and even Little Alex Cora has done his part. And freakin' Youkilis. I don't even know what's up with that guy. Homeboy must have taken some yoga classes in the offseason or something to prompt the NESN Lowell/Youkilis, "You want them on the corners. You need them on the corners. Do not fear them. They are here to protect you." commercial. (Best. Commercial. Ever.) So...hooray for defense! And hooray for defenses that can hit.
All of this, apparently, was a long-winded way of saying that Alex Gonzalez is awesome, Barry Zito is a nutjob, Sox take Game 1 from the A's and tonight we roll on with the Big Schill.