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Thoughts (mostly) on the ALCS

Thursday 10/21/21

Not so good, Red Sox! But I can't be upset. You should never be upset about sports. They are sports. These Red Sox have come within two games of the World Series, which is further than I ever thought they could go. They overachieved. I think they are done and will not win another game. I hope I am wrong. They've reverted to what they are. They're a trick or treat team. When it works, it can go okay for a while; when it doesn't, they don't have much shot.


You never want to have to depend on Chris Sale for anything. A stiff. A fraud. A head case. Do you know why Alex Cora was trying to "pump him up" after he took him out of the game after less than three innings in Game 1? It's because Cora knows that Chris Sale is weak and a head case. That you have to baby him that way. As I said on Twitter last night: "I’ll never understand how Red Sox fans go on and on about Chris Sale. 'Whee! He gets lots of strikeouts!' Hi. Here is what Chris Sale is: a contractual albatross worth 11 wins a year and one of the worst postseason pitchers in the history of baseball."


I do understand it, actually. People are that simple. They're that incapable of thinking. The seek strikeouts and go, "he's awesome."


I expected the Dodgers to mount a comeback in their series, and that is not happening.


One-sided losses are misleading in baseball. They don't mean a lot. My feeling is that once you're beat you're beat, and when the game is out of reach, it doesn't matter how much you're beat by. People see lopsided scores, though, and they associate that with a dominance, with having a better team. They then get carried away, as after Games 3 and 4 of this ALCS. In 2004, the Yankees beat the Red Sox 19-8 in Game 3 at Fenway. That was only notable to me because numerically it suggested 1918. To me, anyway. I've still not seen anyone else write that or heard them say it. I thought, "hmmm, that's interesting." But if you watch Game 4, there's a lot of talk about that lopsided score. The score didn't matter. What did was the 3-0 hole.


But getting back to now. I anticipate that Eovaldi is due to be "figured out" by the Astros, which he was the other night, but I mean during a start this time. I think it's unfortunate that the Sox had this series until Garrett Whitlock--probably their most reliable pitcher this year--blew a save. They could really use something from the thus-far silent Hunter Renfroe. A three run homer early to get them going. I'd really like them to keep going. These are the games I'm invested in, the Red Sox deep into October. If I have games in my blood, it is these games. I will say this a team you never know with--they're inconsistent in everything, so you don't figure them out. That's their identity, I guess. I wouldn't call them strong or resilient. The 2013 team was strong, and that's not a Marathon thing. They were just as mentally tough a baseball team as I've watched in my lifetime. It is for this reason that they are my all-time favorite Red Sox team, especially as that was early on in a period in my life when I had to become the strongest person possible, which, of course, is different. But I still say you are playing with house money, as I wrote in these pages before. The Sox have gone beyond anything anyone could have asked. Remember when they got swept at home in the first series of the season? What I'd say if I were Cora: play loose, play hard, stay focused, stay in the moment, pitch by pitch, play by play, and we'll see where that takes us. There is no pressure on this team, as far as I'm concerned. Play like there is no pressure on you.


I did not see a single pitch of Games 3 and 4 while they were happening. I was stapled to the desk from four in the morning until I went to bed each day. I am working harder than ever. How can that be true, one might say? It is true, whether it seems possible or not. I would not lie.


A couple of random points. Do you know what is overlooked? How close the Red Sox were in Game 7 of 1986. The way that series is remembered/discussed now is for Game Six, as if the Mets then just went out and took what was now theirs in the concluding game. The Red Sox were up 3-0 pretty late in Game 7. They had it again. That Mets team was so ripe to be beat. There's a book called The Bad Guys Won about those Mets, and in the stupidly long subtitle--which I'm sure even its author can't recite--the claim is made that this was the best team ever. That's daft. They were a garden variety championship team, if that. One Hall of Famer in Gary Carter. They won more so because their opposition blew it. Repeatedly. Best team ever. Why do people just say things? Is it because they can? Because everyone is stupid, so you might as well, because what's to stop you or who is to question you? The 1984 Tigers were a much better ball club. Also, the 1989 A's. Just from that decade alone.


If you go on Twitter during any national sporting event people are paying attention to, you will see the announcers trending. Almost every time. What you'll then see is one moronic, repetitive comment after another from people watching. What empty, miserable creatures so many people are. Then again, one must remember that this is Twitter, and you can't equate Twitter with reality. Twitter confuses you, because of the numbers--the volume of people on it. So you think it's a representation of how the world is. It's not. You're talking a minority of people, and as a rule of thumb, unwell people. I'm not saying that most people now aren't unwell. Mentally ill. Because they are. But there is something different about Twitter. It's not healthy. As what it is, and how almost everyone uses it, it's unhealthy. I use it for various reasons. To spread insight, art, humor. I write on Twitter. As I write pieces. As I write on here. Take it all, round it up, you can put it in a book and that book can go alongside a volume of Pascal on the shelf. (In theory; because, yes, I know, no one has Pascal on a shelf except me, pretty much, and there might be ten "normal" people in the world--that is, someone who can interact socially, who can watch a ball game--who have Pascal on a shelf.) I also want to reach the world with what I uniquely do. What I uniquely have. At some point, that will involve a medium like this. Which I also use uniquely. So why not have it started in the meanwhile? Joe Buck and John Smoltz are always ragged on. The violence of what people say disturbs me no matter how much I see it. How casually words like "hate" are tossed around. We speak of priorities a lot, but within all of us, there is a pecking order of what I call emotional priorities. And mental priorities. A tiered value system. And yours much be severely out of whack to think it's a good idea to go on Twitter and say you hate John Smoltz. As I posted last night: "A sports truism: there are very few people who watch sports who do not believe that the announcers are biased against their team. They rarely are." Someone would want to say, "That's what being a fan is!" Rooting for a team to prevail means you must be a moron? Why? Can't you be smart and balanced and still want your team to win? I don't know--that seems pretty simple to me.