Sunday, September 18, 2005

Oscar Oscar

Huge win on Friday night for Boston. H-uge. For the Red Sox to fall out of first place at this point would have to be considered a major failure, and it would take a toll on the team psyche. Presuming they have one. Also, getting involved in a Wild Card race with the best team in the AL right now, the Cleveland Indians, doesn’t seem like a great idea. And for those eagerly raising your hands and propping up your glasses on your nose, yes I understand that Boston is 1.5 games up on NY, not just one. Thanks for the math lesson poindexter, but the loss column is all that matters in September, and Boston only has one less of those. That may have been unduly harsh. In any case, Manny took one off the elbow, Boston remains on top, and the Ninth is heading to the Fens to take in a couple games. Now, a few interesting issues have arisen in the last seven days:

  • If the playoffs began tomorrow, Tim Wakefield would have to be your Game 1 starter. Think about it. Who has given the team a better chance on a consistent basis in the last two months? The Ninth has been pushing for David Wells all season, but Wake’s last three starts have easily pushed him to the front of the line. Normally, when your #4 starter becomes your #1, you don’t need to spend too much time on the victory parade route. But who knows with Timmy? Maybe he’s on one of stretches. Although “Game 1 Starting Catcher: Doug Mirabelli” doesn’t light anyone’s pants on fire. Anyway, this would be a fun development for a guy Jimy left off in ’98.

  • Keith Foulke may be done making contributions for 2005. There’s barely enough time to get him back acclimated into the closer’s role, and Francona doesn’t seem to have any interest in doing that anyway. We’ve covered how important Foulke’s ressurgance would’ve been to the club, so there’s no reason to overdo it, but this is a problem. Perhaps Mike Timlin can close, he’s certainly looked good since taking the job over. But Jon Papelbon and, I suppose, Bronson Arroyo can not be your primary set-up men in the playoffs. It just isn’t going to work guys. Don’t tell me about the kid’s poise and command – believe me, I’ve heard. He’s gonna come in to Yankee Stadium in the 7th inning with runners on second and third and strike out Sheffield to hold a lead? Fine, great, I’ll cheer heartily when it happens, but until then I will sit with my arms crossed and a displeased expression on my face. I know Tito has no choice, but this plan isn’t going to work.

  • Where the hell is Craig Hansen? I know it contradicts what I just said about rookie relievers, but 1) I don’t care, and 2) Hansen is different. If he’s got two pitches then that’s one more than Papelbon, and there’s a chance he could an answer. The dead-arm thing is fixed, so why isn’t he up? Theo Epstein, it should be noted, has built three different bullpens with Boston, and all three of them have stunk.

  • The Indians are red hot, and I want absolutely nothing to do with them. They may be the most balanced team still in this, and other than their youth, it’s hard to come up with negatives. Ozzie Guillen and his Idiot Ball are going to win Manager of the Year, but it should be Eric Wedge in a landslide. Guillen manages like he played: stupid.

  • I just went to the Café Car (I guess all it takes is two tables and a guy in a hat handing out cokes to be a café nowadays), and there was a big sign saying “hot dogs sold out”. Sold out? You’re telling me Amtrack brings a certain quantity of hot dogs, an amount that their experience tells them is more than enough to fill everyone’s hot dog hopes and dreams, and we’ve exceeded that number? We’ve gone over what is normally considered “plenty of hot dogs”? Who is eating all these hot dogs? In fact, who’s eating any of them? How could we possibly have run out of something no one ever wants to eat? There are always more hot dogs, it’s a rule of food.

    “Got any burgers left?”
    ”No, but there are couple of dogs.”
    ”Oh, no thanks.”

    I am concerned about my fellow traveler.

Ok, now on to the Patsies. If you watched last week’s game immediately after reading about our Ninth One selection, you must’ve thought the Ninth a genius. Ben Watson came out of the gates quick, and got most of his 55 yards in the first half. It looked like big things were in store. But Big Ben sort of disappeared in the latter portion(s) of the game, giving him good but not great numbers. The wisest pick would’ve Troy Brown or Deion Branch. Alas. This week, I think we’ve got something.

The Ninth One, New England at Carolina: Kevin Faulk

Carolina is a team that loves to rush the passer, and have already vocalized a desire to put Tom Brady on his backside. Not likely, but worth a try. The best antidote for such an attack is misdirection: get them to run at something that is no longer around when they arrive. Counters, draws, reverses are all good choices, but the best one for New England is the screen. Remember how effective Corey Dillon was on the screen against a very similar Philly defense in the Super Bowl? Well, same idea here, except I think New England will use Faulk more because frankly, he’s better at it. So look for Kevin to have a big day as a receiver and add some nice support on the ground as well.

Alright, off to get a dog….