"If I fail, it's going to be with my pants."
- Manny Ramirez, post-game interview, Oct 6, 2007
Before I left the Boston area, my co-workers gave me the pre-requsite going-away novelties. Among the books and trinkets were quite a few Red Sox souvenirs - the kind of things you'd never buy for yourself. From the other side, my brother tried to welcome me to the East Bay with a fitted, wool A's cap, one of the black ones (actually, quite sharp and probably a little pricey for a cap!). Everything is carefully scattered around my new place, as any superstitious Boston fan should have it, to maximize baseball karma - pictured above, a Manny Ramirez 24 wrist band on a model of Fenway Park sits on my desk
Meanwhile, I watched the end of the season on MLB-TV, and have tried to tolerate TBS Hot Corner during the playoffs. Worst. Baseball. Chat. Ever. Worse even than enduring a Tim McCarver broadcast. Imagine two fixed camera video feeds (pitcher-cam and dugout-cam), the most basic graphic display in one corner, and the TBS commentary crew in the other - four "hot corners". The discussion between the commentators is so simplisctic that, to my ears, it doesn't sound like they are really talkng about baseball; maybe they're watching a game of cricket. Setting MLB Gameday over the Hot Corner ads, so that the video feeds are still visible, makes it a little less incoherent.
But the distance, the sub-standard video, and the plain awful commentary aside, it's been all good for the Red Sox so far. Yesterday was particularly exhiliarating, of course, but also infuriating for all the above reasons. Phenomenal cosmic baseball; itty bitty media experience.
I loved the "bug-out" at the Jake that cast a kind of "Romo and the Cowboys" shadow on Joba and the Yankees. At that moment, TBS had commentary from former catchers John Marzano (Red Sox) and Jim Leyritz (Yankees). They could not stop talking about the bugs, the studio furniture, or A-Rod long enough to tell us what was going on with the game. Fortunately, in that sequence, there was all this activity I *could* see on pitcher-cam (bugs, walk, wild pitch, bunt, bugs, wild pitch, play at plate, tying run scores).
At the end of the Indians game, in extra innings, the "hostess" (Heather Catlin) was dumb-founded by Torre's choice to walk Sizemore with the winning run on third to setup a force at home and a right-righty match-up. I was now yelling at the TV: shut-up you're ruining this for me! I hit the "mute" button. After Cabrera popped out (semi-validating Torre's decision), Hafner delivers. That was an awesome end to an awsome game, but I don't think Catlin or her chatters delivered the drama of the moment at all - so, what is the point of their commentary?
All this would have made perfect sense, I think, to any RS fan, but was completely lost on these the TBS staffers. If Cabrera had grounded into a double-play, would Caitlin have understood the significance of the IBB? I honestly doubt it.
Worse was the anti-Bartman moment at Fenway with the TBS chat crew who could not understand that 17 year-old Danny Vinik's catch was absolutely *not* fan interference. I couldn't see the play, so I had to take their word on it that it *was* interference. When I saw the replay, I was floored because it was so clearly legal, and described as such by the broadcasters. And at first I thought I saw Pedroia cross the plate on pitcher-cam (it might have been a bat boy?), so I thought he was tagging. Imagine that pop foul; a little further down the line, and if not for Lowell's sac fly, that fan-catch might have cost the Red Sox a run. Then how does Vinik feel?
So I spent the night cheering with joy at the action (the parts that I could make out) and screaming furiously at the commentators; it was a strange case of baseball schizophrenia that perhaps only a Red Sox fan who had lived for a while in Cleveland Heights and now found himself in Berkeley might understand.
OTOH, pitcher-cam was perfect for Manny's walk-off dinger. He stood there for quite a while with his arms strait up in the air, and I knew. And like the rest of the Fenway crowd, my arms were strait up, too. The commentary was simply, "Ooooo." The replay showed the ball flying *over* the Coke bottles - that ball was c-r-u-s-h-e-d. Perfect coverage.
Anyway, I'm off for the long weekend (thank you Christopher Columbus!) to see my folks in Oregon.
And they have a dish.
UPDATE: After typing the above on my Treo during the plane ride from Oakland, I arrived at the parents house to find that the digital satellite service has been termintated. My father's new passion is DVD karaoke. D-oh. I wonder if they have "Tessie" on that thing.