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

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Enough Monkeying Around

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Well, how do ya like them apples?

Evidently, Jon Lester had had just about enough of the collective freak out we were all having about our fifth starter. He clearly wanted to hear nothing more about the sadness and woe we were all predicting. And, apparently, he took what Amy said to heart when she yelled at him from the third baseline field box this evening that he should, "not fear the sixth inning but instead, embrace it openly, as your friend." Except she used more swear words.

Because I don't know if you know this or not, but not only did Jon Lester pitch like his pants were on fire and go eight complete innings (thus earning him a giant fruit basket from the bullpen, one hopes), but he also gave up precisely one hit. That's "one" as in the number that comes after zero and before two. O-N-E, one. Damn, kid, that's showin' 'em.

Frankly, I did not expect that. I was expecting a close game, to be sure, because usually, no matter how well Kansas City is playing, they're still Kansas City. But, to be honest, I did not expect a pitcher's duel. This Duckworth fellow, as far as I can tell, is named after a Disney cartoon or something. A little research tells me that he bears a fantasy comparison to Jonathan Papelbon which, frankly, makes me laugh for all of the years. But it's not like the Red Sox have never before had problems with a relatively unknown pitcher. In fact, it's become sort of a calling card for them. An endlessly frustrating and infuriating calling card, but a calling card nonetheless. And so, knowing this, Amy and decided not to fuck around and to do our damndest to reverse jinx this Duckworth person as soon as we could. Which is why we decided to let our section know that in the second inning, Duckworth was throwing a no-hitter. No sooner did we say it than Youks laced one to center. The woman sitting next to Amy turned to her with a look of wonder on her face, "Wow," she said, "You girls totally called that." We shrugged since calling a hit against a Royals' pitchers is kind of like predicting that the T will be crowded during rush hour. Sometimes you're wrong, but it usually takes some wacky alignment of the planets for that to happen. Nevertheless, fist bumps were exchanged all around and I gleefully marked down a "1B" on my scorecard. (Yes, I printed out scorecards and brought sharpened pencils to the game. This either makes me a complete dork or utterly precious and I'm coming down firmly on the side of Team Precious until I hear otherwise.)

Of course, nothing came of the Sox offense until the fifth inning when, fitting as ever, The Captain, the day's honoree, knocked a double high off the wall and was knocked in by an RBI single by Alex "Nickelback is my favorite band" Gonzalez. Turned out to be all the offense they needed.

And I know that I've been giving Tek shit lately. Believe me, I am aware of the abysmal nature of his batting average. Oh, boy am I aware of it. But tonight, after five innings as the game became official, Fenway Park rose to it's feet and gave The Captain a lengthy standing ovation, honoring the fact that tonight, in his 991st game, he broke Carlton Fisk's record for games by a Red Sox catcher. Well, I got a little choked up. I know, I know, I'm such a freakin' softie. A chick in a sweat-soaked Dave Roberts t-shirt and a backwards (or urbanized, if you prefer) camo Sox hat, standing there and getting teary. Ridiculous. But Tek's my favorite. I have a soft spot for the guy. I can't help it. And I don't for a minute believe that pitchers like Lester and Papelbon would be anywhere near as effective as they are without the guidance of Varitek. And, well, 991 games is a freakin' lot of games. Twenty minutes on the Stairmaster is enough to prompt my knees to call a lawyer to draw up a "Cease and Desist" so I can't imagine the trauma his body has gone through. And he's still out there, anchoring the team, utterly without complaint. That's truly something. So while I've been referring to him as "the catcher" lately because of his lack of output, tonight he was upgraded to "The Captain."

That moment of fangirly-ness aside, can we again mention that Jon Lester rocked the house and Jonathan Papelbon is a god amongst men? Also, Mike Lowell is a handsome man, but his defense? His defense is downright SEXY.

I would also like to point out, because the Fenway Park scoreboard operators apparently deemed it important, that according to scouts, Joey Gathright can jump over a car with a running start. I'm assuming this skill would come in handy if either A) teams start playing "obstacle baseball" and littering the basepaths with Yugos or B) he's up for the lead in Spiderman 3. And exactly what kind of car are we talking about here? Are we talking a Saturn or more like a Hummer? Because I suspect the results might be slightly different. But thank you, Fenway Park scoreboard operators for that moment of Zen. I am a better person for knowing that.

I do not, I would like to note, think that it's a coincidence that the last game I attended was the Sox first shutout of the season and tonight marked the second. I'm just saying, perhaps they just do not like giving up runs when I'm around. Maybe they're showing off. Maybe they don't want to make me cry. Maybe they realize that the insane heat has made me homicidal and it will not take much to push me over the edge. (Seriously, "96 and feels like 101" is not a weather report, it's an oven setting). But whatever the case, I appreciate it.

So we rack up another one while the Yankees remain tied in a rain delay in the bottom of the ninth at the black hole in the Bronx. But tonight was all about Jon Lester and The Captain. Well done, boys. The Young Gun and the Veteran got it done. Beers are on your teammates tonight.