Friday, March 5, 2010

You Gotta Be Kidding Me.

One of the reasons I’ve hesitated to get into baseball is my husband is pretty annoying to watch sports with. Actually it’s pretty annoying to even be in the house with him when sports are on the television. Yes, he is a wealth of information, and I truly do appreciate that about him, but there are only so many times you can hear “you gotta be kidding me” before you swear off sports entirely.*

Hopefully Dave won’t read this post because there is one more thing I don’t understand about him and his relationship with the Red Sox. Now you bluehats get on pinkhats for becoming fans, say, sometime around Fall 2004. But what about you? You read all about a potential trade, get to know the player and his stats, and balk at the fact that the Sox don’t want to spend what he’s worth. Then when the Sox meet his contract requests, put him in a uniform, and let him take the field or step up to the plate, you start swearing at the Franchise (through the televisionphone) about what a sucky maneuver acquiring the player really was. That's a little fair-weather too, don't you think?

Example from my household: David Ortiz. Perhaps Dave forgets that he is not only vocalizing his opinions but actually scoffing at anyone who dares to disagree with him. Is selective memory one of the defense mechanisms BoSox fans developed during the bleak years from 1918 until 2004?

Sporstwriter Dan Shaughnessy touches on this in today's Globe. Fans were not feeling Jonathan Papelbon after a little mishap in the playoffs. Okay so the Sox were set to win when he got hit off of with 2 outs, 0 balls, and 2 strikes in the ninth. I guess it would have been more forgivable if he hadn't thrown the same fastball the entire inning.

But should fans really be rolling a red carpet out to the plate for Daniel Bard, the super fast (100mph) fastball pitcher? Papelbon knows how to switch things up with a split-fingered fastball because he did so with some frequency in 2006. And he has apparently shown up to camp with an expanded pitch selection. Not to mention he is the all-time save leader in Sox history.

At this point I'd like to present a list Dave created to explain how a pitcher records a save... it's a little above this newbie's head, but I cater to the masses. And to my loving, sweet, hunk of a husband who is going to be mad I started this post dissing him.

To get a save the pitcher's team has to win (duh... I think), the pitcher must have pitched for at least 1/3 of an inning, the pitcher cannot have started the game or be the "winning" pitcher. That leaves three scenarios where a pitcher can record a save. (1)The pitcher can enter the game with his team leading by three runs or less and pitch for at least one inning. (2) The pitcher can come into the game with his team leading and the tying run on base, at bat, or on deck. (3) The pitcher can pitch at least the last three innings of the game effectively. Yeah, I gotta come back to this in a month or two when I'm a little more baseball savvy.

Papelbon pitched two innings yesterday. And he did great. He threw 13 pitches, ten of which were strikes, and four of which were split-fingered (splitters), retiring the Twins in order, which I am guessing means he got out the batters 1,2,3.

But watch out Pap! There's soon to be a new fan in this house. Think we're gonna be quiet when you mess up? You gotta be kidding me.

*I've actually tried to count the number of times he says this in one game. I lost count around fifty in the first quarter of a UCONN game.


  1. I agree with your post. What's the deal with Dan and his assumption that fans don't love Papelbomb anymore? I think he's just trying to stir things up. You gotta be kidding me.


  2. Alli, your premise is correct (that I might from time to time switch from loving a player one week to calling for his dismissal the next) but your Ortiz example is way off base. I believe I was the only person in Boston last year that felt Ortiz would get his power back. On June 7th last year (the day after he hit is second HR) I made a bet that he would finish the season with 20 or more. Everybody thought I was crazy! He finished with 28. I may have lost belief momentarily a few times along the way, but my faith in him was always there.

    Also, I am going on record right now saying that I do not want the Sox to lose Paps. I love Bard and am glad they have him in case Paps leaves, but I am not hoping for that. I mean, I have Pap's jersey... those things are EXPENSIVE!!

  3. Sorry PinkHat but your mission statement is flawed. "So my mission is to become an actual baseball fan by watching or listening to every Sox game in the 2010 regular season."
    You can become conversant perhaps even knowledgeable in 162 games but it is terrifically unlikely that this exercise will yield a true emotional connection to the game. Inspection, education and observation and analysis are necessary but insufficient to develop the awareness you seek.

    Baseball is a game of failure (3 for 10 is a great success at the plate, a great team wins 95/162 games whereas a great NFL team may legitimately contemplate and undefeated season). Your approach (watching, learning, writing) does not sufficiently expose you to failure and the emotional consequences of failure and the countervailing improbable ecstasy in success that makes baseball what it is.

    I admire what you are doing. It is certainly the beginning of an act of discovery, probably an act of love and devotion to a husband who loves and is devoted to you (and the sox and the huskies). And if you are lucky over time (and I don’t mean 162 games), you will connect to the game the way your husband has, the way that a ten year old kid does returning to the mound two days after he broke down and cried after giving up the five run league maximum in an inning, the way my Dad did watching the Sox just miss in 67, 75 and 78(collapse) and 86 (tragedy) before he died.
    OK well - I hope you can enjoy the 162 games. I rarely do. It seems like each year I hit a point where I can no longer bear to watch the Sox. The failure is just too much and I swear off NESN and EEI, for about two weeks. Then like a moth to a flame I return to the TV and the ballpark to experience the undeniable probability of failure, the joy of hope, and the pleasure of Americas great pastoral game.

  4. I disagree with above. I think you can connect to baseball just after one game. It seems to me you already have.

    Please keep writing -- your blog is enjoyable.

  5. I think that attending games would be helpful in that emotional connection. Walking down Yawkee Way sends a certain stir up the spine that NESN just cant capture. Say, 4 or 5 live games this season? Including one Sox-Yanks game. Doctor's recommendation.

  6. Alli! I never knew how much Rick and Dave have in common when it comes to watching sports. This post made me laugh so hard because "you gotta be kidding me" is pretty standard around here too:) Hugs to you and the babe! XO

  7. Saw the link on the A-list and stopped by. Nice blog - good writing! I agree though that I hope you have some games at Fenway penciled into your season. If you take the T (which is better for the fan experience anyway) and don't waste money on beer (which takes you away from the game anyway) it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg...maybe just an arm :) But I have had some of my most meaningful baseball experiences while at the games themselves....or waiting on the ticket line on a Saturday morning at 7 AM. I'm a fellow female fan but of different "lineage" - my mom was a fan and I grew up with a one-track mind: baseball. My husband is English so I guess we had the role reversal from the traditional husband-teaches-wife model of baseball fandom :) Oh, and I also suggest to switch to radio-only for parts of the season - much more evocative and a good perspective - it'll be good for your education. (we don't have the tv hooked in anyway so it's 100% radio for me!)
    -Karin T