Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hearkening Back...

I posted the below elsewhere on August 15th, and revisiting it, I see that I was right to be concerned, and even more right to be glib and fairly silly. I am saddened to say that with the exception of the Papelbon Question, every concerning scenario worked out poorly for the Sox.

Looking at the picture above, I know what you're thinking: "What could possibly go wrong"? Well, umm, as it turns out, when two super-athletes get a head of steam going, and put all that momentum into a full-on headfirst dive that results in their skulls colliding, the middle of the road answer is that at least one of their faces basically shatters. And the other one doesn't feel so hot either.

Correlatively, you might be wondering "What's going on here - is this the Shocking Baseball Injury Blog"? I'm here to tell you no - it isn't. I pray I never have to write about such things again. But while I'm no kind of journalist, you have to admit this is news. I have been watching all kinds of sports for over 30 years, and with the possible exception of Joe Theisman's leg this is the most horrific incident I've seen. The irony here is that these are probably the only two guys in the Bigs that could have accomplished the feat on that ball. Cameron is a Gold Glove caliber positional player with better than average speed, and Beltran is a burner in CF. Maybe Crawford and Baldelli ( if they were ever healthy together) get to that ball simultaneously on speed alone, but in most cases one guy will be just a tad bit out of position, or the other guy doesn't have the wheels. Freakish.

But then, that's been the Year in Baseball. Thus far we've had two pitchers and at least two batters hurt with balls getting fired off their heads, two pretty bad collisions and then this terrible one, a guy breaking his toe kicking an inanimate object in anger, and my personal favorite - the probable Rookie Of The Year falling down his stairs carrying groceries, and breaking his collarbone. Out for the season.

Nevertheless, the game goes on, and we're getting down to the nitty-gritty. The Sox remain atop the East, but the Yankees are still in the hunt, thanks to the magnificently idiotic managing of Buck Showalter (historically I would insist that his decision-making was evidence that he was gambling against his own team, or on the take from Steinbrenner, but now I know that that would get me in trouble so I'll just say he's incompetent to a cartoonish degree). Baltimore is in utter disarray after the waggish (not often you can use this as a double-entendre and pun) Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for steroids, and every Oriole starter began needing them. Toronto is still the lurker in the deep, but I think with Halladay out - with freakish injury - they're not for real.

Regarding the Sox, there are a great many questions to be answered, mostly around the starting rotation. As touched upon last week, staff "ace" Matt Clement has entered the "Dark Time" - the second half of the season. Aaand, is one might expect from looking at his historicals, he sucks now. Obviously taking a rip off the back of the head doesn't do much to improve your game, but there we are.

Wells is old and fat, and probably completely insane, but right now is the most consistent guy in the rotation. Wakefield is either Brilliant, or OhMyGodNOOOOO!! Yes, these are the guys we're happy about.

Arroyo is, well, a conundrum. Coming into the season I was so high on this kid, I surprised myself. The Great (just ask him) Schilling himself said he had "balls the size of Saturn"! I mean, that is pretty high praise, bearing in mind that Saturn is a planet and all. But apparently these balls can occasionally get in the way of throwing your fastball for strikes, and this results in hitters teeing off on your junk, and basically knocking you and your giant nuts out in the 4th. But then again, sometimes the planets align, if you'll pardon me extending the metaphor, and Arroyo is lights-out. It's tough as a fan to see someone walk out there and wonder "Will I get Jekyll, or Hyde?"...(for reference, see Wakefield, Tim).

In the most interesting development of the season, "insurance policy" starter Wade Miller is taking a much-needed stint on the DL, with some recurring tightness in his total inability to strike guys out. This means that with Schilling still relegated to the bullpen (which he is using as practice to pitch during the 2006 Home Run Derby), it will be rookie Jon Papelbon getting the call from Pawtucket.

Now, nobody is more excited for rookies than I am, and by all accounts Papelbon has the make up of a big-league starter. I really hope he comes up and does well. His first start he pitched better than expected, going almost 6 innings and only giving up a couple runs while striking out 7. It's hard to expect that wil be the case for the rest of his efforts though, as he'll get scouted, and guys will start to catch up to his stuff. The question mark is: the first time he gets dinged up, how will that affect his confidence? Hopefully he's the made of the stern material guys need to be to play in Boston. We'll see shortly. In the meantime, it's fun watching the messageboard guys try to come up with a nickname for him - Arroyo's, as you might imagine, is Saturn Balls.

In an unrelated note, my softball team Chaunch beat up on the evil Cobras this weekend, scoring so many runs, and spanking them so badly, that I never even once wondered about the score. All I know is that they have a Bad Person on their team who ruins the game for everyone, and disgracing him made everyone's day. Still, since Chaunch is Love, we did it with kindness, and walk-up songs, and PBR. You see, if people could just do everything with kindness, and walk-up songs, and PBR, there would be no war, no famine, no um, work...well, you can see where I'm going, but still it's not a bad idea.

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