Friday, October 16, 2009

Welcome, Stomach Butterflies, Please Make Yourselves at Home

I'm officially nervous. I was mildly rooting for the Dodgers in last night's game, and when they lost I had this deep feeling of unease that didn't quite fit. Somewhere deep in the chambers of the brain, the anticipation of Yanks-Angels got all conflated with the very slight disappointment of the Dodger failure and started producing a worried reaction akin to a Yankee loss. In other words, I'm a mixed up mess.

Hey, momentary diversion for a new Seth Curry Saves Duke! feature:

Social Commentary.

This balloon thing yesterday really pisses me off. My cousin Justin sent me the link, and I got to follow the end of the flight live on MSNBC. First, they tug at your heartstrings with the idea of a six year-old kid floating in an aluminum saucer over desert and farmland and whatever else for two hours (which is a seriously poetic visual, by the way), then they really put the smash on your soul when it lands and the fucking thing is empty. So you worry and feel down and wonder if there are any actual happy endings in life, and then it turns out the kid was hiding in the attic, and hooray!

But oh, also turns out the parents were on a show called 'Wife Swap' earlier this year, which makes them attention-seeking pop-American scum, and then it turns out the dad does something called i-Reporting for CNN, which is a feature where a supposedly legitimate news organization asks idiots to videotape themselves having irrelevant opinions. Basically, this guy does anything he possibly can to get his mug on camera. And then you think, 'hold on a second, here...if your kid went missing and was presumed in a UFO flying southeast, wouldn't your first move after calling the authorities be to check your own fucking house, meaning the entire thing, especially the attic where the kid probably hides all the time? And if it wasn't your first thought after, wouldn't the police gently insist?'

You can see where I'm going. This was staged. There's not an ounce of doubt in my mind. Maybe it'll come out, maybe it won't. Whether it was devised from the very beginning, or whether the saucer actually took off by accident and the publicity-whore of a father had his brilliant idea and planned things from there is a distinction I don't pretend to know. But it was a set-up, and now he'll get to go on Letterman and Leno and whatever else he wants, and all kinds of TV and media opportunities will follow. Great.

End Social Commentary.

Sorry for the egregious use of italics and expletives so far in this post.

Back to sports. Watching Joe Torre last night made me so glad he's 3,000 miles away from the Bronx (distance estimated). In the 5th inning, Kershaw gave up a single to Ibanez. Then he threw a wild pitch. Then he walked Feliz. At this point, as a manager, you have to sit up in your seat a bit. The playoffs are not a time to hold a loose leash. Then he gave up a 3-run blast to Ruiz. Again, this was the fifth inning and Kershaw probably wasn't lasting much longer. Any good skipper would have evaluated him during the next at-bat, and gone to the bullpen at the first sign of trouble. So what did Torre do? Sat in the dugout like a dead stone weight while Kershaw walked Cole Hamels (the pitcher), threw two wild pitches, and walked Chase Utley. When Ryan Howard stepped into the box, Kershaw had to be yanked. Had to be, post-haste, no discussion, no hesitation. But Torre sat on his hands and the slugger ripped a double into right to score two more runs.

Totally unforgiveable, if you're a Dodger fan, but also totally typical of Torre. How often did we have to sit through the same exact scenario, watching a starter torpedo and die while the man my stepfather calls the "Cigar Store Indian" did his best statue impersonation on the bench? Granted, Girardi is the opposite extreme; if a starter throws two consecutive balls in the third inning of a no-hitter, he's got Phil Coke warming up in the pen. But at least he's on top of things. Maybe he over-manages based on match-ups (Marte vs. Mauer, game 2), but his overall success has spoken for itself. Count yourselves fortunate, Yankee fans. We've got the right guy at the helm.

So the deal for tonight is this: it's wet, cold, and miserable. If there's baseball at all, which is a bit doubtful at the moment, the conditions will slow down the Angel running game. However, they could also be detrimental to CC, who doesn't like pitching in cold, sloppy weather. He's at his best when he can work up a sweat, not when his SoCal blood is freezing in an October Nor'easter.

If, on the other hand, the game is canceled, it means CC won't be able to pitch games 1, 4, and 7 (currently he's slated to pitch game 4 on short rest, and game 7 on normal rest because of the extra off day after game 5), which means in turn that Chad Gaudin or Joba will have to start game 4, giving us a severe match-up problem with the Angels #4 starter (probably Joe Saunders).

Maybe I'm fretting over nothing, but I don't like the situation either way. This next observation is highly theoretical, but Lackey seems like the kind of dude who could probably pitch a great game in a January snowstorm, and the cold would probably just keep pissing him off and motivating him to throw harder. He's the type of unsmiling badass who makes his kids survive for a week at a time in the wilderness so they don't grow up weak. In his own childhood, he probably had to attach one of those old-fashioned plows to his back and drag it across great swaths of rugged terrain in northwest Canada. For him, throwing a baseball in the severe cold is like drinking agreeable Oolong tea on a leather duvet.

Still, I like our chances. Game 1 is nothing less than crucial, and if we get off to a fast start tonight, we'll ride this Nor'easter right into the World Series. It's time for Part 4, baby.


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