A Week Off…

No blog this week….no big reason, but just taking a week off.

For next time, I’ll have thoughts on America The Bandwagon, grocery store lines and other tidbits from our lives.

Thanks,

nason

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Believe

It’s been less than 24 hours and I’m still beaming. It’s a very weary, tired and scummy beaming, but nonetheless….



Thursday, October 28th was the day we always wondered about – the day after the Boston Red Sox won a World Series. Like most of you, the constant good thoughts and random fist-pumping/fits of yelling excitedly/smiling for no reason have not left you all day and probably won’t for a while. This is what it’s like…this is what it’s like to realize a dream and become a winner.



This is what it’s supposed to feel like.



I work in an office that, despite being 45-minutes from Boston, only features five or so Red Sox fans. The others are a mix of Phillies, Indians, Twins and Cardinals fans who couldn’t even begin to imagine what was churning inside us today. It’s been said that if you’re not from New England and not a true Sox fan, you will never really understand. People may scoff at that notion, but it’s true. You just can’t. Watching everyone try to get stuff accomplished today (a normal positive in most offices) was an act of futility. Talking, laughing, sighing and even just sitting in silence with other Sox fans while drinking some Dunkin’ Donuts coffee? That’s what today was supposed to be about. Waking up and realizing that it wasn’t a dream? That’s what today was supposed to be about. Calling the guy that got you into the Sox to begin with? That’s what today was supposed to be about. Thursday, October 28 was not a day for work – it was an unofficial Red Sox Nation holiday.



This is what it’s supposed to feel like.



Between the game and the post-game festivities – seeing them celebrate, seeing the joy, seeing the images of heroes past that couldn’t accomplish the goal – it was like a movie, a great big beautiful movie. Everything just came together, 18 years after the Sox lost Game 7 in 1986. The signs were there and looking back, this was the way it was supposed to happen. We were supposed to lose that Game 7 to the Yankees last season…it set everything in motion. If you look at it, this season was perhaps the greatest story in sports. Seriously…

  • a great defeat (game 7) followed by a triumpant return (start of the season)
  • a strong beginning followed by all lost hope (middle of the season) only to end with an unexpected surge (August)
  • amazing characters (what don’t you know about this team?)
  • twists and turns (Nomar, free agents, Francona)
  • an emotionally draining final step against all odds to get to the promise land (THE Yankees Series)
  • a nation waiting (the fans from San Fran to Boston and beyond)
  • a dream realized

But what was it that didn’t seem right? Wasn’t it supposed to be harder than this? Where was the heartache? Where was the moment when we hung our heads and said, “Not again”? It never happened because of the best sign of all was that this team was really, really good.



This is what it’s supposed to feel like.



They told us this club was built for a World Series. We didn’t believe them. Lucchino, Henry and Epstein all said to Keep The Faith and that everything would be ok. We didn’t believe them. When the team went into a .500 swoon, Pedro started making waves and the Nomar situation reached critical mass, they told us it would be ok. And they were right. All along, they were right. No false hopes. No empty promises. The day after Game 7 of last season, they said we’d be back to win it. And we did.



This is what it’s supposed to feel like.



But with every ying comes a yang. What made it so special to be a Red Sox fan was that certain something that very few other teams truly have – passion. Through generations, the burden of being a Sox fan was handed down to us like a bad sweater. We learned about the game, learned about our players and over time, became the most knowledgable fans in baseball. We learned to eat, sleep, breathe and cry the Red Sox. This team did what is almost impossible to do: cross every kind of barrier (gender, race, age) possible. Men, women, kids, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, dogs, cats: everyone could get into the Sox. It became the glue that held so many of us together – a common bond in a world that is rapidly losing the few it once had. When they won, we’d rejoice. When they’d lose, we ached. Oh, did we ache. Sports teams aren’t supposed to make people feel like this, a few steps shy of mass hysteria. But the Red Sox did, but will that change?



While we’ve gained something big, Red Sox Nation has also lost something big – the only identity we’ve every known as the chasers and not the champs. What helped make that bond so strong was hope and faith that someday, it would be our time. It ironclad 86 years worth of fans who all wanted the same thing. Now, it’s all changed. We’ve won. That hope and faith has been realized and we can enjoy what we’ve wanted for so long. Will it feel the same next year? Will cheering this team onto victory mean the same now that we’ve experienced what it’s all about? Will being a Red Sox fan be any different now? It’s a scary thought, almost like losing a loved one. Next year will be surreal to say the least. This team deserves the same love, deserves the same following and deserves the Nation cheering it on for another title. We’ll have to wait until next year to see if it happens. Be careful of what you wish for…we now have it.



That’s what it’s supposed to feel like.



So after seven months and the past two fantastic weeks, it’s time to take a break from the Sox. Honestly, I’m worn out. But that’s not stopping me at 9:22 on Thursday night, trying to find anything reminiscent of 24 hours ago when just for a while, everything was right with the world. But that world is starting to move on, looking to shift our focus on an election, the NBA or anything else that is just plain ‘next’ even though all we want to do is have time stand still. Sadly, this feeling will go away with time – all strong emotions do. But I made a decision to have a copy of today’s headlines framed and keep it as a constant reminder that no matter what happens, life was never so good as it felt today. Ever.



And that’s what today felt like to me.



thanks for reading,

nason

World Series Game 3: Running Diary…

The running diary is back…it’s game 3 of the World Series. I’m excited…let’s dance!

–8:20-ish: The media is touting Cards pitcher Jeff Suppan as their best postseason pitcher, the same guy who sucked for the Red Sox last season and couldn’t even make the postseason roster. He begins by going deep into counts against Damon and Orlando before giving up a bliz-ast to Manny, who couldn’t have picked a better time to awaken offensively.

–9:01-ish: Unfortunately, Pedro starts out doing the same for the Sox. In what is the biggest start ever in his career, he doesn’t look good as the bases are loaded thanks in small part to another Bill Mueller groundball snafu. Seriously, what is the story here? By the grace of some god, Manny fires a strike to home to gun out Larry Walker on an Jim Edmonds flyball, avoiding even more criticism for being regarded as a ‘lazy’ outfielder. Not noticed is that Mueller jumped up to attempt to cut off the ball, thankfully thrown well over his head. I fully expect him to turn on the Sox and join the Cards any minute now.

–9:33-ish: Suppan somehow reaches on a squibber to 3rd and Edgar Renteria attempts to re-aggravate every injury Trot Nixon’s ever had as his double sends Trot on a watery ride reminiscent of Funtown USA. On another miraculous play, Suppan’s acid tabs kick in and he becomes afraid of home plate, deciding to skittishly retreat back to 3rd on a normal play that would score a run, getting tossed out by David Ortiz on a cross-field throw. The Sox continue to use the luck of the Patriots and have almost everything go their way. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Big Papi gets the second Sox honorable Defensive Player Expected To Be Worse award for this shot.

–For the next 20 or so minutes, Fox’s Joe Buck and Tim McCarver analyze and overanalyze the Suppan play. Buck is almost getting mad that his hometown Cards would do such a thing, making me think he might cry if the Sox can pull this series off. Suppan is shown getting pissed off in the dugout. He just seems like the kind of guy that is good at a lot of stuff, but is really arrogant about it. I don’t know what it is, but I feel that he deserves anything that will happen to him tonight.

–9:43 pm: Mueller’s on second and Trot’s up. Jesus, he needs to do….

–9:43 and 32 seconds: He did! Nixon lines a single to right, scoring Billy Swiss Cheese. The good thing is that guys like Manny and Nixon have yet to really come alive. If they do, this offense will be hard to stop.

Side note: I can’t stand the National League’s batting pitcher rule and this is why: Pitchers batting are a waste of time. While it’s cute when they get a hit or the occasional Mike Hampton blast, they usually strike out and look awful doing it. While I prefer the DH because I grew up with it, it just seems that you’d want to have the pitcher focus on throwing and leave the batting to the pros. Purists can talk about how you get more double-switches and more strategy, but don’t you get the same type of strategy when managers are looking to pitch around a DH and the batters he affects around him?

10:20: The second of two awkward Chris Myers in-inning interviews, Keith Tkachuk talks about how it’s tough to be a Sox fan and also play for the St. Louis Blues, all while getting heckled from someone a few rows back. This is almost as bad as the Larry Walker family discussion from an inning back, smack dab in the middle of a Sox offensive rally. A friend of mine at work today said Fox tends to attempt to make their games like movies with all of the drama and I’m inclined to agree. By the way, where is Scooter? He must be a Cards fan too.

Side note: These fans are almost dead silent, which was very important as these people are crazy about baseball. Two years ago, I got to see a game there and was amazed at how much St. Louis loves the Cardinals. Everyone wears red and very similar to the Sox Nation, you’ll find people wearing the most random players jerseys like Mike Matheny. My friend even got two ‘Sox suck!’ comments wearing a Mo Vaughn shirt of all things. I’d agree with the sentiment that St. Louis is the National League version of the Sox Nation.

10:25: Pedro is in cruise control. I’m not even giving next season a thought right now.

10:30: The third STL pitcher of the night tosses a walk to Pedro with Damon coming up. This game is about to get ugly. The close-ups of St. Louis fans have begun. ….seconds later, Damon hits into a double-play, so that will be the last of me saying things like ‘this game is about to get ugly.’

10:34: As Pedro continues his dominance by striking out Al Pujols to close out the sixth, the possible NL MVP starts griping at the umpire after the second strike and consequently, swings and misses at strike three. This team is frustrated and it’s showing. Their starters are being knocked out in less than five innings, their relievers are throwing a ton of pitches and their big guys can’t get started. I don’t think there’s a game plan for this type of stuff, but whatever the Sox are doing is working.

10:43: Bill Mueller is from Missouri! Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo…

10:46: Nice to know about that Taco Bell gave everyone in the stadium a plastic holder for their tickets. Other commercial notes:

—The Big Fat Obnoxious Boss show looks pretty good, at least for giving the bosses of American lines like “I think I could kill you” and “Knock knock…who’s there? Get the hell out of my office.” When you work in an office, someone that spills coffee on their shirt is cause for a laugh. Shows like Fox’s new Nanny 911 show actually make me scared of ever having kids.

–I’m starting to dislike Lebron James already.

–A Seed of Chucky movie? Were we demanding this?

11:01 pm: Martinez continues to crush the Cardinals’ hopes, retiring 14 men in order before closing out the seventh, fanning Reggie Sanders on a fastball. Alright, I’m thinking of next season for a second. If this ends up being Pedey’s last start, what an amazing way to close it out. There will be tons of words written on the Pedro Martinez Boston experience and whether he stays or goes will be one of the offseason’s great storylines. To me, he’s the second-greatest starter to ever wear the Sox uniform and should be remembered as such, not for the the antics that tend to follow him around from season to season. Will it be time to say goodbye if the impossible happens? It all depends. What the Sox should and shouldn’t will be saved for a better time, but tonight will always be remembered as a landmark night for a landmark pitcher.

11:07 pm: A really awkward interview with the guy who plays Leon in the Budweiser commercial, proving that great commercial characters should just stay in the commercials. Another bad choice by Fox, pushed by Budweiser I’m sure. And why was he hanging out in a party suite with a bunch of really young blonde girls?

11:10 pm: The first Nomar appearance! I can’t believe it! He’s back! He’s…oh wait, it’s only a Gatorade commercial? Thanks, beautiful.

11:25 pm: I’m physically shaking with excitement as we come to bottom of the ninth…

11:28 pm: Walker hits a homer off Foulke to bring it to 4-1 with the rest of the middle of the order coming up. Fox flashes that 18 years ago tomorrow, the Sox lost Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. What happened tonight? Well, that little Game 6 deal. They really, really hate the Red Sox.

11:39 pm: Foulke gets a strikeout to end the game, ending one of the more exciting games of the postseason. The Sox have won eight games in a row and are one game away from winning a title. One. Single. Game. You can talk about jinxes and curses and not getting too excited, but there’s something about this team that will not allow them to blow this. The whole ‘one game at a time’ attitude is actually happening and the Sox are showing that with a big team effort, anything is possible…even the impossible.

Now in less than 24 hours, another free agent-to-be will start another ‘most important game of his life’ situation, someone that’s pissed off he got looked over during the ALDS and ALCS, someone that turned down a lot of money that is no guarantee that he will get back, someone that wants to win this game worse than you could ever imagine and show the fans, media and management that he wasn’t as crazy and emotional as everyone thought.

That man is Derek Lowe. Prepare for battle. Prepare to believe.

thanks for reading,

nason

whoaaa…awwwwww…listen to the music….

Was I surprised to see that Ashlee Simpson was busted for attempted lip-synching during Saturday Night Live? No. Was I disappointed at yet another female pop singer proving the stereotype true? Yes.

What is most bizarre is the myriad of excuses her and Geffen Records have used: the drummer hit the wrong button to play a drum track, the band played the wrong song and she somehow couldn’t adapt and best of all, her severe acid reflux caused her to lose her voice and attempt to use a backup vocal track. Yikes. I’ve suffered with acid reflux (anyone that’s had it can agree suffer is a light word), but have never lost my voice. It doesn’t happen, but for some reason, Simpson is attempting to buck modern science. Her deer-in-headlights look and multiple excuses prove she was lip-synching and got BUSTED. Good for her…let this be a warning to other pop shams.

Music, to me, can be really good or really bad. If most of you are saying, “Wow Nason…that’s more obvious than the fact you’re good looking,” I agree. But think about it: when a song/album is good, it’s really good. You’re playing it in your car, computer and MP3 player at the gym. Good music makes you wonder how you lived without it before it was released and whether something this good could ever be released again. Then you hear another good song a few weeks later and the same feelings get churned up again. Kind of like love, so I’ve been told.

But when music is bad, it’s horrible. This can happen for a variety of reasons, setting aside the normal personal preferences we all have. We laugh at it, cringe at it and even ridicule the bands/singers enough that they start drinking Drano and go into rehab until they release an Unplugged album and find their way into our hearts again.

One of the big issues I have with the current scene is the situations like Simpson’s, the same that plague so many others in her field. Take Britney Spears, long hailed for being the newly-anointed queen of mouthing the words. The same with Madonna, Cher, etc. If you can’t perform a concert without actually singing, YOU SHOULDN’T BE DOING A CONCERT. I don’t buy this new-thinking ‘You’re buying the performance’ crap either that is supposed to mean that watching them dance is better than hearing them croon. Pop music is turning more into a looks-and-image contest than ever, which may be another obvious statement. However, there still must be a point where the consumer demands that the person they want to hear sing can actually do it.

Seriously, do we even know if the people we hear on albums are actually them? Sound crazy? Is it?

Almost worse is when you hear a band in concert that sound nothing like their albums. While some may say that the situations (studio as compared to live) is apples to oranges (by the way, one of those analogies I hate…they’re both roundish fruit), you can’t tell me that I shouldn’t expect some pretty damn good similarities between the two. Rock music especially lends itself to this problem as alt-rock bands are notorious for having great ‘studio’ voices, aided by more technology than NASA, who can’t perform in public to save their musical lives. I still remember how badly Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach sounded on a show I saw a few years ago, as compared to Aaron Lewis of Staind who was on the same bill. Same genre of music, completely different outcome. You don’t get this with the older artists as much, simply because a senior citizen who feels like they’re getting ripped off will complain until the singer is scared into (gulp) doing their own vocals. For some reason, Generations Y, X and beyond don’t expect as much.

Having said that, I was pleased to see a group actually sue Scott Stapp (formerly of Creed) of putting on a sh*tass performance last year. I don’t think they won, but a lot of attention was given to the case, which was refreshing. In this whole consumer/manufacturer world we find ourselves trapped in, bands aren’t expected to actually care about their customers. It’s bizarre when you get right down to it. Bands are really businesses, something only two groups (Rolling Stones and Kiss) have nailed out and practically patented. You push several products that move the brand along (albums), occassionally rolling out the new product line for show (concerts) with some other nice cross-promotional ties (any merchandising/endorsement deal) and voila! You’ve got yourself a nice little small business. Oh, the music? Forget it…if you’ve got a cool image and some nice products, the music will take care of itself. This would explain the last five-seven years of Aerosmith.

Inherently, modern music is based on these three following tenents:

1) No current music will ever be as good as the 1970s. It just can’t happen, but can die trying.

2) Lyrics are about two things: love and everything else.

3) A good marketing machine will do more for a band than musical ability will.

Take Lindsay Lohan, who I briefly mentioned last week with regard to actresses becoming singers in increasing numbers. Lohan has a new pop song called Rumors which is her weak attempt at raging against the machine that is the evil media. Let me brighten your day and strengthen your resolve by republishing the chorus:

“I’m tired of rumors startin/I’m sick of being followed/I’m tired of people lyin/Sayin’ what they want about me/Why can’t they back up off me/Why can’t they let me live/I’m gonna do it my way/Take this for just what it is.”

Number one, she’s 17. Enough said. Two, if you’re a celebrity or even a pseudo-celeb like The Miz from every single Real World/Road Rules Challenge show, deal with it. You being scrutinized and talked about is how the rest of the world gets even with you. Think you’re going to make a ton of money, live an unreal live and not have to deal with pressure from us? Uh-huh. I’m not a big proponent of the whole idea that every lyric should be meaningful since there are plenty of time when idiocy must reign supreme, but could we have done without another crappy song about absolutely nothing? I’m also at the point of wishing Exxpose, Rick Astley, Billy Ocean and Morris Day & the Time would come back to give us some sort of sanity.

But as long as the people keep buying it, they’ll keep cranking it out. Teenage girls and boys have changed the face of pop music with their TRL, disposable incomes and ability to swing trends without batting an eyelash. We’ve all contributed to it at one point or another, so we might as well enjoy watching the zeppelin burn and crash to the ground.

I didn’t even begin about music downloading, the Radiohead/Coldplay phenomenon of depression and how uber-trendy bands disgust me. Maybe nex time…

thanks for reading (and if you like it, tell a friend)

-nason

ALCS: Chapter 7….Believe.

I was visiting my buddy Clyde on a cold, almost frigid, night in Bangor, ME, over the winter. We entered a bar – probably our third of the night – and ordered a couple Captain n’ Cokes. As I took the first few sips, I turned and looked at the tv to see what was on. ESPNews was on and they were talking about Alex Rodriguez and how the Yankees were finalizing a trade for him. It felt like finding out they had put urine in my drink – putrid, shocking and ultimately, disappointing. The most expensive team in the sport had stolen arguably the greatest player in the sport from the clutches of the Red Sox. They had won again…

…but not tonight.

For the first time in a long time, we won. We beat the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS in their stadium in not just a win…a blowout win. I feel like someone dropped off $1 million tax-free on my front step. I don’t know what to do, how to think, how to feel. I’ve never been here before and I hope I never leave.

What feels so good is that for once, it’s the Yankees that have to answer the questions. They had us down 3-0 and on the ropes in not just one, but two games. But the Sox came back and got to within 3-2 in two of the most incredible marathon games you’ll ever see. Then Jesus Schilling provided us with one of those Boston Sports Legends moments in throwing a Game 6 that will go down as one of the most impressive efforts from an athlete period ever.

The great Yankees, not the Sox, now have to answer questions about their manager and his decisions. The great Yankees, not the Sox, will now have to answer to their fans about how a $190 million team could falter this badly. A-Jerk now has the offseason to stew about his karate chop, which doesn’t bother me a bit. Body language tells a lot and believe me, he is one of the most underrated a**holes in baseball. And best of all, the team that used its money and clout to steal Hideki Matsui and Jose Contreras from our grasp can now use that money for something useful – attempting to buy World Series tickets in Fenway Park on Saturday.

Some random thoughts I jotted down from the night:

–We had so many Dagger Chances – opportunites to drive the stake down the Yankees heart for good – that is made even a seven-run lead tense. Bellhorn, Nixon and Ramirez all had chances to put this lead to ridiculous proportions. Sitting here now, who cares? But then, even a 37-2 lead would be nerve-wracking.

–Derek Lowe was PHENOMENAL, perhaps making back some of the money he lost during the season. But when Francona decided to bring in Pedro during the seventh inning, I got Vietnam Vet-style flashbacks of last year’s seventh. When the Yanks hit back-to-back doubles? I developed a twitch.

(side note: It’s 1 am and I’m watching the coverage of the Boston post-game ‘get-together.’ They’re trying to basically take apart a McDonald’s near the park and the riot police are out. This could get very ugly.)

–When Bellhorn hit the two-run homer to give the Sox 10 runs in the top of the eighth, it was the first time I thought, ‘This could happen.’ However, I didn’t say it out loud and quickly scolded myself for such a ridiculous thought. Manny then popped up for the 20th straight time and quickly brought myself back to earth.

–A very high-ranking guy at work today said flatly, “You know they (the sox) are going to lose tonight…don’t you?” I feel like painting a giant B and the word ‘Believe’ on his desk.

–Timlin shutting down Jeter, A-Jerk and Sheffield in the 8th. A HUGE turning point. Granted there was a huge lead, but it’s the little things that put your mind at ease. The ohmigodohmygodohmygod feelings begin…

–Before the bottom of the ninth, obvious drama is involved. So instead of maybe sticking with the action and talking about what we’re about to see, Fox cuts to commercials, one of which is that stupid Wendy’s un-official spokesman having a random conversation with some curly-haired wise ass kid. I mean, there are times to accentuate drama and times to cut away. This was not a time to cut away.

–Timlin walks two with two outs in the ninth and Alan Embree has to come in. Is anything easy for us? If Fan Man dropped in and delayed the game, I wouldn’t be surprised. There’s nothing like that paranoia feeling to make you feel alive. I’m finding myself justifying how the Yankees could come back and screw the Sox again. Mind you, there’s two outs and the Sox have a seven-run lead. Yet, I’m still not convinced.

Finally, elation. F**k the curse, f**k 1918, f**k it all. We finally won and will now host Game 1 of the World Series on Saturday night. Surreal to say the least…

by the way, does anyone know what day it is?

ALCS, Chapter 6 – The Running Diary

ALCS, Chapter 3-5:

Yankees up 3-2.

Game 6 in NY

The synopsis: wow. After missing all of game 3 because of work and The Birthday Party Drive and enduring the marathons that were Games 4 and 5, I’ve learned that I expect anything and everything to happen the rest of the way.

No matter what happens tonight, the team continues to amaze and impress its fanbase. A friend of mine in San Francisco wrote me about tough it is to watch the ALCS on the left coast as compared to here because you’re not surrounded by it at all times. Having said that, his boss – an ardent Giants fan – understands and has been letting him get out early to catch the games on tv. Now that’s cool.

To rip off my writing idol, Bill Simmons, here is a running diary of the game tonight, Aces style.

8:00 pm: Even Fox is beginning to give the Sox some credit and begin the slow climb back into Beantown’s favor, of course depending on what happens in the duration of this series. I’ve spoke on it before the slanted and overall bad coverage of the series has hit a nerve with a lot of Sox fans. On the pre-game with Jeannie Zelasko, they even put up a still ‘What Curse?” in the background. Is the worm finally starting to turn?

8:19 pm: From Damon’s first at-bat, the tone has been set: be patient and see pitches. Everyone seems to be on board, but Manny just isn’t with it. This morning, my friend commented that Ortiz is the anti-Manny. He needs to start hitting and it needs to happen tonight.

8:27 pm: Schilling looks awesome. Granted, it’s only three batters and A-Jerk battles him but after basically being told his baseball life in 2004 is dead, we’ll grasp onto to anything we have. The Bronx fans, by the way, just look annoying, a marked difference than the Boston fans: greasier, more diverse, more obnoxious.

8:47 pm: Bellhorn grounds into a double play with the bases loaded. Oh, the hate. Strange how there’s not been one Todd Walker mention this offseason?

9:32-ish: Bellhorn proves Francona’s ‘stick with your guys’ mentality again when he hits a three-run homer that the LF umpire fails to notice hits a fan in the front row. A fan wearing a black sweatshirt. A fan wearing a black sweatshirt fumbling like he just dropped a home run. Sanity returns to the Bronx as the 32 umpires meet up (one covering his mouth for some reason) and they call it a homer. Throw in your own pro wrestling reference here. The Sox are up 4-0, but we’ve seen this too many times to be comfortable. They need more runs.

9:38 pm: So the Boston Fox 25 station is running ads touting their local talent and one of the meteorologists is from Windham, ME – about an hour from where I grew up. She’s also very hot. I’ve often wondered what it’s like to date a meterologist and if the fact that she could be wrong about her job 75% of the time would have any effect on our relationship.

9:42 – The Yankees get a break when Sheffield hits on off the front of the bag, putting two on with none out. Does it seem like the Yankees lost the last two games because they wanted to excrutiatingly kill Sox fans’ hopes again?

9:56 pm: As Manny flies out again, we get a shot of Schilling on the bench, towel on his head, hands on his ears, looking tormented. We’ve heard enough about ghosts in Yankee Stadium, but not enough about voices in people’s heads. Hmmm.

10:17 pm: The Sox go into their familiar turtle-shell offense and Schilling’s up in the bottom of the sixth. The next six outs are HUGE.

10:26: Schill just mowed through Jeter, A-Jerk and Sheffield for three of those outs. Unbelievable. But we still need more runs.

10:32 pm: Another God Bless American rendition by Ronan Tynian, introduced by the frog-voiced Yankees announcer. There must be some QVC on somewhere. (Wait a minute…does he have a World Series ring on? You mean Ernie Banks, Carl Yaztremski, Ted Williams, etc. never won a ring but an Irish Tenor has one? Yarrggh.

10:38 pm: Matsui goes down on a grounder to first, 20 seconds after Fox announcers said the Yankees fouling off pitches sometimes can mean a pitcher is losing some steam off his fastball. At this point, every pitch is a killer to Sox fans. Just throw strikes baby….just throw strikes.

10:41 pm: Bernie Williams hits a blast to make it 4-1….the acid begins to churn. Posada is retired after a stressful at-bat and a few zoom-ins on Schill’s bum ankle. The question begins as Arroyo is up in the pen: how long do you let Schilling go? He’s had a history in Boston of not being able to finish off games, so what now? I’m not thinking Pedro Game 7 redux, but…

10:50 pm: Schilling will apparently not return for the 8th and the speculation on whether he should be pulled has begun, complete with comparisons to Gradygate last year. Al Leiter makes a good point that with Cairo, Clark and Jeter up (all awful against Curt), why wouldn’t you take a chance at an extra three outs? Damn it, it makes sense. Then again, a relatively fresh Arroyo would be a good option right? But then again, it could be A-Jerk, Sheffield and Matsui in the ninth. I think I might die in the next 30 minutes. This has all the markings of The Classic Sox Loss. I just pray it isn’t…

10:57: Schilling’s got his head in his hands…I think he’s coming back out. Papi’s up with Manny on 1st..we need runs.

11:08 pm: Arroyo’s coming out. New England braces. I think I’m going to watch the rest of the game kneeling on the floor…

***I just saw an ad for ‘I Heart Huckabees’ which seems like another one of those artsy-ish movies (similar to the Wes Anderson’ triumverate of films like Royal Tenanbaums, etc.) that has that feel to it. Mark Wahlberg’s also in it and it also stars the lead character of Rushmore, one of Anderson’s movies. I think a movie blog is due…(sorry for the rambling…nervous energy.)

11:22 pm: A-Jerk hits a dribbler to first that he swats out of Arroyo’s hand, sending it flying and Jeter scoring making it 4-3. The Fox guys agree that A-Jerk’s out (surprisingly) and the umps call him out, something that never happens to the Sox in these type of situations. Yankee fans complain in typical fashion by throwing baseballs on the field, causing Francona to get his team off the field for fear of them being hurt. A-Rod claims its his running style. These are the types of scenarios where the Red Sox always get screwed, but yet the decision prevailed for them in the end. It’s surreal…this never happens to us. The Patriots? That’s a whole different story.

Now Sheffield is up and the roid rage is on…I’m still worried.

11:27 pm: Sheff pops up and we’re headed to the ninth with a two-run lead. A-Rod continues to bitch which just seems to be in his personality. Would he have even fit in with this club? He seems to fit more and more into the Yankee framework than I ever would have imagined. I still would be comfortable with about 32 more runs though.

11:40 pm: Cabrera is called safe at first at your normal double-play attempt and more stuff is thrown on the field. Now police are on the field and the game is being delayed because New York idiots can’t stop throwing baseballs. Can you imagine if the Sox were to somehow win this series? Would they seriously be in danger of fans rioting on the field? I mean, there are 55,000 people there.

11:43 pm: My question just got answered. There are about 50 cops in riot gear coming out to line the left and right field foul lines, thanks to the Bronx yahoos in the upper deck tossing stuff. This is bizarre and also sad.

11:54: Bottom of the ninth and foulke, our heart attack closer, is in. We’ve been here before.

11:50-something (I lost track of everything after two walks): we’re down to one batter to end this, Tony Clark. An ex-Red Socker, a guy who wasn’t supposed to play because of John Olerud, a guy perfect to crush a three-run dinger to win it. But it didn’t happen that way – the third such ‘move’ that went the Sox’ way – with a Foulke fastball that ended it. Another amazing nailbiter…what else can happen?

Now, it’s Game Seven. The Sox have made history by becoming the first team to come back from three games down. Can it be one more?

Should we expect any less?

…a night in the life.

The scenario: a friend’s 30th birthday surprise party from 7-midnight.

The problem: I had to work until an undetermined time due to a hockey game. I can’t get out of it and can’t leave early. But I have to make an appearance at this event or else I will severly dislike myself for a long, long time.

The details: It’s a 90-minute drive and the game starts @ 7:30. At the very, very best, the game would get out at 9:30. At the very worst, 10:30. The Pissed Off Because I Have To Work scale is in effect…

Now, here’s the story.

–Around the 9 pm mark, the second intermission was coming to an end. Great!Another 20-minute period and a big lead for the home team meant that maybe 9:30 or 9:40 was possible. I began to plan my exit strategy and how I could finish up my stuff with the quickest escape possible. Then, the third period happened.

Another couple goals by the home team turned this game into a blowout, which means that things became a bit chippy on the ice. There were several fights including one that resulted in a book’s worth of penalties. Since this all delays the game, the clock was ticking…

Final score: Monarchs 7, Penguins 3. End of game time: 10:00 pm. Ugh. FunBuster No. 1….

10:05: Unfettered by the potential arrival time, I packed up my stuff and booked to the car, powered by a 1/4 tank of gas and a half-pack of Camel Lights (more on this later). I forgot to grab a soda for the road, but suddenly realized that I didn’t hit up the bathroom on the way out. After briefly thinking about pulling an unzip-and-spill in the parking lot, I thought better and headed out. Only problem?

Post-game traffic. What usually takes three-five minutes from lot to highway took about 15. And it wasn’t fast-paced traffic either but the kind where you can see the light is green ahead, but no one’s moving AND THERE’S NO REAL REASON WHY. FunBuster No. 2. This has to be one of the biggest annoyances in driving today, right up there with “The traffic on the highway has come to a complete halt and no one’s moving. There must be a lane of traffic open somewhere…how is this possible?” It’s times like these when I wish my car was really Optimus Prime.

I finally got on the highway at 10:24-ish. Not even thinking of a potential arrival time, I dropped the pedal and started the drive. Now most people that know me basically mock my driving as, well, Grandma-like. I don’t think it’s to that extreme, but I’m pretty cautious overall. Not last night though. I was cruising along with no real problems, confident that the 101 drive would go by pretty quick with no traffic. Until I came up on the ummarked sheriff’s car that was also out for an evening drive. FunBuster No. 3.

This guy was ahead of me, going about 70 for a good 20 miles, making it impossible to make up any time. At this point, I was starting to question whether all of these roadblocks were a sign. About two seconds later, I said f**k it and kept on truckin’. I also was smoking waaaaaayyy more cigarettes than usual, which somehow kept me calm through the trip even with the token “Where the hell are you?” calls that are necessary but also frustrating because they are constant reminders of what a good time you’re missing.

When the law finally pulled off the road, I was able to make some time through Portsmouth and most of the early exits in Maine. After I got past the $1.50 tolls, I did happen to notice that my gas was getting pretty low and actually was dropping pretty fast. Usually 1/4 tank is fine for the Manchester-Portland drive (which was the reason I decided to not get any gas in the early afternoon). As I began to rue my earlier decision, I quickly realized that I needed to get some gas. Luckly, a sign for the big Burger King/Mobil/Popeye’s rest stop appeared and in nine miles, I would be all set. After pumping in a quick $10 ($2.11 a gallon by the way), I was in and out around four minutes – a landspeed record. I was almost out of the car before I had even stopped.

11:47: finally, I approach Portland 13 minutes before the party officially ends luckily seeing two cops parked next to each other while I was doing about 80. Having called that a wash, I now start thinking about the possibilites for the post-party. I get more “where the f**k are you? The birthday boy wants you here now!” calls, deepening my dislike for working weekends. I tried to stay positive and hit the Old Port waterfront around 11:55, failing to find anywhere close to park and instead having to find a spot down in Nowheresville. I finally got to the hotel where the party was, only to find everyone happily drunk and me missing everything. Double ugh.

We then drove to a store, got a ton of beer and everyone went to a friend’s house for a post-party that ran until around 4 am, which partly made up for the drive. Then we became hungry and someone brilliantly decided to drive, using my car. You can guess what happened next.

Scrape! Crack!

The plastic on my side view mirror was now broken and one of our buddies’ trucks had a nice six-inch scrape because the driver couldn’t see the angle at which he was backing out. Undeterred, we drove to 7-11 and stocked up, laughing at the bizarre nature of the incident. Lesson learned? I think so, but when those chili n’cheese nachos come callin’, you gotta answer the phone.

Was it a complete headache to try and figure this whole night out? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Every single minute. Better to try and be late than not try at all…happy 30th, Milley!

Random thoughts, notes, grumbles….



–Does anyone understand these IBM commercials? You know, the ones that feature those two business types talking about servers and e-commerce? I don’t get them one bit, especially the one with the weird old dude talking about this random server he had in a diner. “Maybe it ordered itself,” he yuks to himself. God damn it, these commercials irritate me. Now those Emerald Nuts commercials? There’s something to get excited about. Egyptian Navigators…

–I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing that those yellow gawdy Livestrong plastic bracelets have become a fashion item or not. Actually, I have decided. It’s bad. I’m getting the feeling that people are wearing them as a trend with no understanding about what they’re designed to represent. It’s great if the fight against cancer gets more recognition because of it, but I believe most people see them as ‘that Lance bracelet.’

–So seven people in our 19-person office are now expecting/having kids, the first of which just popped out on Thursday. To me, this is amazingly rare but if I hear the ‘Don’t drink the water’ bit one more time, I might toss hot coffee in someone’s lap.

–Is it a prerequsite for every young actress to put out an album? I realize that J-Lo started the trend, followed by by the 2004 What Happened To Her award-winner Jennifer Love Hewitt, Hilary Duff and now Lindsay Lohan. Throw in the amount of crappy actors with bands (Bruce Willis, Keanu Reaves, Kevin Bacon) and I find myself yearning for the days of actor/singer segregation. Elvis and The Rat Pack did cross over, but they are icons. Call me crazy, but I doubt Duff will be up for an Oscar anytime soon.

–Back to J. Love, she starred in Garfield: The Movie this year. Questions: 1) how did the fall happen and does Carson Daly have something to do with it, 2) was there a clamoring for a live-action Garfield movie and 3) why is Garfield still around? How many more times can you tell the whole make fun of Jon/eat lasagna/kick Odie story before it has run its course?

-Saw a few movies recently: Lost In Translation (pretty good…nothing really happens, but it’s still a good story), The Girl Next Door (very good) and Man on Fire (very, very good). Next up on the list: Super Size Me (a documentary on a guy who eats just McDonalds for a month), Euro Trip (never seen, but I’ve been told is kinda funny) and season 2 of the best show on tv, The Shield.

–At the get-together I talked about, a lot of people said they enjoyed the blog and liked reading it, but could use a little bit less of the sports stuff. Agreed. That’s when I realized my mind has been on auto-pilot for the last four weeks. I felt at times like I rented out my soul to some prick who was just focused on work and had no compassion for friends or feelings. I started smoking a lot more heavily than ever, wasn’t able to hit the gym at all and overall felt pretty unhealthy, both physically and mentally. Then on Friday afternoon, a strange sense of calm came over me and I realized that I had come back. It’s time to get back to basics. Does this stuff every happen to any of you? In any case, I’m glad to be back…

-thanks for reading,

nason

p.s. since I started writing this, the lead for the Sox/Yankees game 4 has changed hands three times and I have this feeling that Mark Bellhorn is about to become a goat. If the Yankees pull this off (I’m finishing this up with one out in the sixth), I fear for anyone wearing an NY hat in the Fens or in Boston tonight…