Friday, July 23, 2004

Who Knows

A close personal friend of The Ninth remarked, as we were simultaneously watching the Orioles embarrass the Sox 10-5 on Wednesday night, "you know they're gonna come back and take two out of three from New York, don't you?". But not as something to look forward to, more of a "isn't that the annoying sort of thing they'd do?" thing. Play like junk against Baltimore, execute easily the most pathetic defensive play of the last 10 years on an inside-the-parker, and then inexplicably take down the blessed Yankees. Only in Boston do we consider that a nuisance. For other fans that progression is serendipity, for us, it's an addition to the "Reasons Why We Hate The Team That We Also Love" list. At the time, I refused his prediction, saying there was no way that team could beat anyone two out of three. But after seeing how they played on Thursday night and looking at the pitching matchups, I think he might be right. They're gonna turn the car around just when we were ready to get out. Those little bastards. Last night they looked sharp and ready. Wake pitched shutout ball, the bullpen was quick and painless, and the defense got outs. They have some momentum. The pitching matchups feature Schilling vs. John Lieber tonight, Charles Bronson Arroyo against Tanyon "Are You Kidding" Sturtze, and then Jose Contreras v. Lowe. You could make a case for Boston in all three. And it all begins tonight, at a packed Fenway Park. There's just something about Friday nights at Fenway. The crowd brings a special energy in with them. It's like they've been looking forward to the game all week and won't let it be ruined now. There's a crazy excitement that's equal parts weekend elation, happy hour discounts, and old-fashioned hometown spirit. You can feel the place buzz right through the tv, where you have Sean McDonough in his due place at Jerry Remy's side. Everything just feels like a win. The crowd knows it, the umps know it, even the players seem to know it. They play better at home on Friday nights. They look like the team they're supposed to be: hard-hitting, high-pitching hot dogs. And you know what? It shows in their record. The Sox are 7-1 this year in Friday night games at Fenway, and they'll be going for 8 tonight. Watch out. They might stink it up. Or, the crowd might not let them.