Friday, October 17, 2008
For all you non-sports fans out there, this one isn’t for you.
Shortly after moving into our place, I discovered that channels 16-19 on our television were the sports channels, with two of those of them being some sort of ESPN subsidiaries. Soon after, on one of said ESPN channels, I saw an ad for “Beisbol Esta Noche”, followed by further notice that American League Championship Series games would be broadcast live! THANK YOU GLOBALIZATION! I was overjoyed, while Julia was anything but. Still, being the good sport (no pun intended) she is, Julia acquiesced to my pleas to watch the game, as long as it was on mute (fine by me) and we could play cards or backgammon, as well. I found these to be more than agreeable terms, but little did I know the impending disappointment.
The first game we watched was Game 4, two games after the Red Sox lost in extra innings and one game after getting throttled. I was looking for a bounce back performance that would even up the series and commence my day of birth on a good note. Right away, I knew this outcome was not in the cards (again, no pun intended). The Rays jumped on Boston’s feeble pitching efforts, teeing off on Tim Wakefield’s wiffle-ball knuckler for back-to-back homeruns over the green monster. On the flip side, Boston barely showed up for the game, only remembering how to hit in the late innings well after the game was out of hand. All in all it was a pretty pitiful game, leaving little hope for recovery this season. My earlier joy at getting watch the games live turned sour, and I lamented the fact that I could watch such destruction occur right before my eyes. Damn you, globalization.
Which brings us to last night, when Julia and I decided to change it up a little bit. In an effort to put ourselves out there more, we ventured up to The Alamo, an American owned bar that serves American food, shows American football, and that would have on the American League Championship Series. (Quick side note on “American”Bars: by and large, I try to stay away from them in foreign cities as much as possible, except if I want to watch an American sporting event or if I have a hankering for some American food [read: I want football and buffalo wings]. This bar did not really inspire me to change that opinion. It was incredibly crowded with both Americans and porteños, all of who it seemed were smoking. For Americans, the novelty of smoking in a bar never gets old, so that even if you don’t smoke, or if you only smoke when you drink, you’ll light up just because you can. Now I’m not as sensitive to cigarette smoke as Julia is, but I can’t imagine how people can frequent a bar where everyone smokes inside, there is no ventilation, and the place is so small that there is no avoiding coming home smelling like you sprayed yourself with Ralph Lauren Stale Cigarette Fragrance Por Hommes. On the plus side, I paid twenty pesos ($6) to get in, which seemed outrageous, but my entry came with three pints so I didn’t have to spend any money inside besides a tip. And just like a real American bar, girls paid half and got to drink for free until 11:00pm. God, it feels great to be American.)
By the time we arrived, the Rays were already up 2-0 on a BJ Upton homerun. Seriously, it seemed like he, Carlos Peña, and Evan Longoria, hit homeruns every other time they came to the plate. And to prove it, Longoria came up a few innings later and hit a homerun, that is, right after Peña had hit one. Next thing we knew, it was 5-0 in the 5th inning, and Dice-K was coming out and Red Sox fans were leaving Fenway. It looked to be much of the same from the previous two games, so instead of remaining in the smoky din, we retreated back to our apartment where I anticipated I would watch the Red Sox silently led out to pasture. We got home, Julia went to bed, and I suffered through another two innings of Rays scoring. Entering the bottom of the 7th, the Sox were down 7-0. For New Englanders, it was just about as depressing as seeing Matt Cassell trot on the field instead of Tom Brady. Luckily, I hate the Patriots, so this analogy doesn’t apply to me (sorry, couldn’t resist knocking the Pats).
Mind you, by this point, I was hardly even watching the game. I was switching in between the Sox and The Patriot (so many unintended puns it’s killing me). I don’t even like The Patriot, but I couldn’t stand to watch the Red Sox go out in such a pathetic fashion. Plus, as many others, the accidental suicide/Joker tour de force has given me a new appreciation for Heath Ledger (although his performance in The Patriot does not merit much praise), so I was interested. In my ambivalence I saw the Sox had actually put a run on the board (Dustin Pedroia single), and that with two outs, David Ortiz was coming to the plate. I even thought to myself, wow, if he hits a homerun here it could totally swing the momentum in favor of Boston and they could actually put up a fight. Realistically, I saw another lazy groundball hit right into the shift that would kill the inning and leave them six outs from elimination. Well, David Ortiz made the choice between watching the game and watching a crappy Mel Gibson movie very easy when put one out over the right field wall. I didn’t expect the Red Sox to win, but at last they had recaptured my attention and registered a pulse for the first time in three games. After the homerun, I contemplated running up to the nearby bar called Molly O’Mally’s (Irish bars double as American bars abroad) to check out the last two innings. But I guess since I didn’t anticipate any more late game heroics I thought it smarter and safer to just finish watching the game here (a decision I don’t regret, even given the conclusion of this story).
What unfolded next was beyond my wildest dreams. First, JD Drew’s first of two clutch hits, his 2 run homerun in the 8th inning, blew my mind. For how maligned this guy was until last year’s ALCS , the injuries he’s suffered, and the recent death of his grandmother, its incredible that he has stuck through and become such an integral part of the team. Then, with two outs, after Mark Kotsay lined a shot that just escaped BJ Upton’s grasp for a double (a natural centerfielder, which Upton is not, should make that play, and given the chance again, Upton may make that catch), COCO FRICKIN CRISP knocks in the tying run, a nice bit of payback for the inexcusable group beat down he received from the Rays earlier this season (good guys these Rays are). Justin Masterson held in the top of the 9th, and after two quick outs Kevin Youkilis reached on an error (I’m not sure who it was attributed to, but it involved Longoria and Peña – funny how the three most devastating offensive forces on the Rays helped lead to their defeat with defensive misques), followed by an intentional walk to Jason Bay, and more clutch hitting from Drew. I simply put my hands up and laughed, amazed that I had just witnessed another historic Boston comeback in just six months. I rescind my curses, precious globalization, although they may resurface if Josh Beckett lays an egg in Game 6. But at least I’ll get to watch.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled program.