I foresee nothing pleasant for Boston sports teams tonight. The consoling flipside of this is that my predictions have been way off for a while. Last night's Red Sox game was one of the more disgusting exhibitions I've ever seen by a good team. They were not ready to play that game. It looked like Little League. I don't know if they were still rejoicing over their win in the Bronx. I hate looking back on triumphs. I think no good can come of it. Basking. You are only as good as your next shift, to use a hockey metaphor.
It's how I look at my art, and that's part of what has rendered me what I presently am as an artist, as I always move forward to the creation of the next work that will live for far more years than I will as an inhabitor of a mortal body. Ten walks, three hit batsman, and the disaster at third base that is Eduardo Nunez. Mookie Betts: Maybe pull your head out of your ass? You can tell that he needs assurance from people, that he doubts himself. This is his fourth postseason series now, and he's sucked to date in all of them. He has zero career postseason home runs. Two RBI. (One was on a walk with the bases loaded.) He alters his game, he gets jumpy at the plate, he dropped a fly ball. And Chris Sale. What is the point of this guy? He contributed 12 wins this year. With a stacked offense. His contributions were negligible to their season. Then the postseason comes, and he is not dependable, you never know what you're going to get, he can't find the strike zone. J.D. Martinez: Maybe run to first base when strike three gets away from the catcher? Yes, I get that he didn't see the ball squirt away at first, but that's because he was not present in the moment of the game, and was more wrapped up in peripheral things. Like barking at the umpire. But as for Betts: I study baseball numbers like nobody else. I'm a walking baseball-reference.com in Colin form. And you may suck for one postseason series--Ted Williams--and you may suck for two, but if you keep sucking after that, chances are, and this is backed up by a huge history of numbers, you just suck in the clutch and when it counts more. And you always will, because of your weak mental make-up. That's what I'm starting to think is all you'll ever see from Betts. You might have a moment or whatever, but the trend, by and large, will persist. Hope I'm wrong. Don't think I am.
Physical errors are less than ideal, but what is worse than mental errors? And how many did the Sox make? It was like twenty. Embarrassing. This Astros team is better than they are. When a team is better than you are, you can't cock up anything mentally, you can't place thirteen guys on base for free, you have to be proactive about beating them, and that means being mentally sharp and finding advantages to create. Picking a guy off, moving runners along, taking the extra base. But fear not, it's David Price to the rescue! What is the over/under on innings that Price lasts tonight? If I said three, are you taking the over or the under? That the Sox lost last night means he's likely to be worse tonight, because there's more pressure. And I think the Patriots are going to lose.
But do you know what baseball is about more than anything? It's not hits, it's not runs, it is controlling the count. He who controls the count wins. You don't think that first pitch of the game matters? It does. 1-0 is a lot different than 0-1. With each pitch, leverage changes. It's all about the leverage of the count, having leverage on your side, whether you are a hitter or a pitcher. Controlling the count. Last night, every Sox hitter started off behind, and every Sox pitcher started the Astros batter out way ahead. As sure a recipe for a loss as there is in baseball.
Having said that, when you think a baseball series is going to be something, it will often radically shift. That is because nothing is more dramatically mutable in professional sports than postseason baseball. That is partially because of the stream of wild cards in the postseason, with players in roles they have not had for six months. Starters relieving, etc. In the '86 World Series, the Sox took the first two games at Shea. That Mets team won 108 games. The Sox were thinking that the Mets had been way overly-touted. They come back to Fenway, drop the next two. The road team won the first four. Playoff baseball will set up certain expectations that, in a series between two good teams, will almost certainly be undercut. This happens game to game, within a game, within an inning. Dynamically, dramatically mutable.
I will miss Mr. Price's start, because in a few minutes I am heading out to Harvard Square to see the Vaccines at the Sinclair.
They are a great band, one of the three best in the world I'd say, building up what's becoming a formidable body of work. Their debut album, What Did You Expect from the Vaccines? is what I was listening to when I was alone in my house in Rockport for those final days in 2012, after my then wife had put her complicated, devious, and life-destroying plan in motion, as I wrote Dark March: Stories for When the Rest of the World is Asleep, and so many things for magazines and newspapers. And it's what I'll crank again in that front room of mine when I get my house back.
Today I was mostly useless. I climbed the Monument once, but it was my thirteenth day in a row climbing. I was speaking to my mom as I climbed, and she couldn't tell I was climbing, so that's a good sign, given that everyone else who is solely focused on climbing stops a number of times to rest and catch their breath. It's 875 days without a drink. Watched all of The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. Quite mediocre. Boring, talky, and they could have done in three hours what they did in ten, without losing anything. Quite comical how much better both the Shirley Jackson novel is and the Robert Wise film, too. The point of those is Eleanor. It's not the horror, but rather the loneliness--that's the horror. That lack of belonging. It's intensely penetrative, the novel. There is a prevailing interiority to the prose, like it enfolds us, as the readers, like Hill House enfolds Eleanor. The Wise film is truly scary and creepy. He learned a lot from Orson Welles--his old boss--about deploying sound and also cutting to maximum effect. I really wonder what people have experienced when they say that something so flawed and ordinary is great. Makes me think that what they've seen and read is hugely limited, and if they had seen and read more, they'd have a different conception entirely of what's awesome, entertaining, impactful. I liked, by default, some pretty shitty music when I was a kid before I started hearing the real good stuff. Then it was a case of "what the hell was I doing wasting my time on that crap? This is what's out there?????????? Damn!!!!!!"
I need something to talk about on Downtown this week. Pitch me? Speaking of which: sent pitches to The Daily Beast tonight re: The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society and the Peanuts Thanksgiving special.
Anyway. Off to Cambridge. I don't like being on that side of the river more than is necessary, but come on: the Vaccines!