Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Blame the Wilson's warbler.
Wilsonia pusilla, click for big.
This horrible night of baseball is all his fault. I know that my computer desktop images have a huge impact on the outcome of baseball games... after all, the Red Sox started winning in the final stretch last year as soon as I put up the 'Have You Hugged Your Star Quarterback Today?' wallpaper, and so long as I kept it up they kept on winning, right up to the World Series... at which time I put up some nice homemade World Series champions wallpaper, obviously.
But for tonight I had the Wilson's warbler, and as both the Red Sox and Tigers went tumbling into the abyss, I think we can pretty firmly blame him.
To be fair, though, the warbler wasn't out there playing on the grass (or faux grass, as the Sox were in Toronto), so there's some blame left over to be spread among the actual, y'know, players.
For the Sox the obvious person to blame is Alan Embree, aka The Chipmunk, aka The Chaw, aka The Known Shitty Quantity (via ECA), aka YOU SUCK EMBREE YOU SUCK YOU SUCK YOU SUCK. The walk-off homer by Reed 'I am named after a piece of a fucking clarinet' Johnson hurt, but let us not forget that Embree also let Florida NewYork* single and walked McDonald before Reed even got to the plate. So it wasn't just a small moment of suckitude, a tiny little mental lapse... no, you musn't think that. It was Alan Embree being his usual craptastic, ineffective self through and through.
In the battle of the Davids (Bush vs. Wells), no one was a winner, but since we don't really give a crap about Toronto we're just going to focus on what David Wells did wrong. What he did wrong was give up hits. And runs. Seven of the former and five of the latter, actually, in 6.3repeating innings. At least he went 6 innings this time, right? Got further than the second inning, right? Hooray. He was still much more hittable than the Sox can afford him to be. Plus someone on the SG messageboard dug up this image of Wells, David Cone, and Jeter, which haunted me all game and will probably continue to do so all night.
I'm also blaming the Toronto field, because I hate it in many varied ways. The fake grass under the dome, while no longer the murderous Astroturf, is still unpleasant. I don't like the dirt-less basepaths, the little orange islands around each base. I really don't like that video board out in center field, on the field-level, because it confuses and angers me. Why do you need a video board on the ground? When someone makes a play out there and the camera focuses on them it makes your eyes go hooey. Plus it's unsafe-- Johnny Damon cut up his hand on it earlier in the season when he slammed into it on one of his usual reckless fielding plays.
Also, Kevin Millar... I am not blaming him, per se, but I can't be the only one darkly amused by the fact that he tells Boston fans to lay off Renteria one day, and the next day Edgah goes 2-4 with a fancy little triple while Millar goes 0-4 and grounds into a double play. It could be good for Edgah to get away from Fenway for a couple of short series, get his act together and be better prepared to face the rabid booing masses when he comes home, but regardless I think he probably would have worked out of his slump without Millar poking his hooked nose in. Kevin, you yourself have not exactly been a hitting machine lately, possibly you should concentrate on that.
Of course, it must've been nice for Edgah to know that his teammates would stick up for him in public like that. As opposed to, say, this:
[Alex] Rodriguez... was plunked near the hip by Franklyn German in the seventh, a pitch that appeared to be intentional....
Paul Quantrill retaliated in the eighth, throwing behind Jason Smith and then hitting him with a pitch in the back. That brought the Tigers out of their dugout, and Quantrill egged them on, gesturing for them to come out for a fight.
But the Yankees never left their bench, and order was quickly restored with no punches thrown. Quantrill and manager Joe Torre were ejected.
The Tigers come racing out of their dugout, and Quantrill's left standing out there all by his lonesome. Nice. There's also the irony involved in who he hit, of course. The Tigs plunk A-Rod, who had hit a homerun in each of his previous at-bats and had already hit eleventy billion longballs on the year. So New York retaliates by hitting... The Anonymous Jason Smith, who has a .212 batting average on the year (.227 lifetime!) and looks like one of the most blandly inoffensive fellows in the game.
Not only that, but A-Rod had been hit in the hip, which is the right way to go about intentionally hitting a guy. Quantrill threw behind TAJS, then at his head, then gestured at the Tigers bench when it emptied to try to start a fight. All this, mind you, while his team was up 11-0. New York, New York, it's one heckuva classy organization, huh?
As for blame being assigned, well, you can't really do it in this game, because basically everyone on the Tigers was at fault here. Pitching? Ledezma deserves blame for giving up 7 runs in 4 innings, Ginter deserves blame for giving up 4 runs without recording an out (and being removed with that standing... isn't that something like an infinite ERA on the game?), Doug Creek deserves blame for being so abysmally bad that Robinson
Crusoe Cano got a homerun off of him.
Franklyn German is the only one I'm not blaming for this pitching performance, mostly because he hit A-Rod and in a game this bad you have to admire the spirit. You'll also note that A-Rod didn't charge the mound with German on it. I guess the 'string bean' that is Bronson Arroyo is one thing, but when you see 6'7, 270 lbs of pissed-off pitcher staring back at you it's probably best to avoid making any sudden moves towards him.
As for the offense, pretty much everyone's in the doghouse (cathouse?). The slumps of Pudge and Pena both continued, Nook had a hitless night, Guillen had a hitless night plus error, Bingey went 1-5. Rondell and Ramon Martinez had some hits, but they were all singles and did absolutely nothing for the Tigs. The one bright spot was the three-run homer by The River Thames, and all that did was make sure the Yankees didn't get a shutout.
I'm not sure you can say that much else happened today that was good... Bill Mueller had a two-run homer that I quite enjoyed, but of course he was hit in the foot later in the game (thanks, NESN, for replaying it so that we could actually hear the thunk of the ball hitting him, and letting us watch him roll around on the ground in extreme agony, I always like seeing my favorite players in those situations) and had to leave. The Orioles won but lost Javy Lopez to the DL (broke a bone in his hand) and maybe Brian Roberts for a few games (took a ball to the knee then slid into second base and aggravated it), so maybe that counts as something good.
Look, I've been reduced to counting the misfortunes of our divisional rivals as 'good', that's how depressing today was**. And all because of that goddamned warbler.
The warbler has been replaced, by the by, with Barry Zito sitting in the clubhouse playing guitar and looking pretty. If he doesn't work tomorrow for at least one of my teams, we'll know he's really lost all his Barry Zito mojo this season.
edit: This is neither here nor there, but I think that Doug Mientkiewicz may be clinically depressed. Not eating or sleeping? Maudlin apologies? Verbal self-flagellation? Jeez, if he doesn't start hitting soon the Mets are gonna have to start putting him on Prozac.
*That's Orlando Hudson t'you.
**Of course the nor'easter currently battering us hasn't helped matters.