Monday, August 13, 2007

Celebrating 500 White Rhino Posts: A Red Sox Fan's Rant

The folks at Blogger.com tell me that when I post this article, it will represent to 500th Blog posting since I launched The White Rhino Report in December 2004. I am sure that not all 500 articles have been “homeruns,” so I do not feel like A-Rod, the newest member of MLB’s 500-HR Club. But I also do not feel like Barry Bonds, since I wrote every one of these articles without the benefit of any performance-enhancing chemicals in my system. I launched each of these missives under my own power!

I want to thank the readers of The White Rhino Report for giving me consistently helpful and gratifying feedback. Just when I begin to wonder if the investment of time and energy to write and post these articles is justifiable – given how busy the rest of my life is – I hear from a reader or group of readers who tell me how much impact a particular piece has had. So, thanks for reading and thanks for offering your reactions to the thoughts that I am compelled to share in this space.

Let me return to the theme of baseball. I am a loyal – and often fanatical – member of Red Sox Nation, having been inoculated early in life with a love for all things Red Sox. Over the many years that I have been following the vicissitudes of the team, they have given me much joy and much sorrow. Most of the time I am a “The glass is half-full” kind of fan. I am not like many Red Sox fans who love to moan and whine over every little misstep by a player, manager or front office executive. A common mantra among many of my fellow Sox fans is “They are ruining my summah!” The 2007 edition of the Red Sox have certainly not ruined my summer. As I write these words, they can still boast the best record in baseball – with 70 victories and a winning percentage of .598. They still hold a 4 game lead in the American League East, and are odds-on favorites to make it to the post season. They have as good a chance as any team to make it to the World Series and to bring another title to Boston.

Having said of all that, I cannot refrain from offering a mini-rant.

WHAT WAS GOING ON THIS WEEKEND IN BALTIMORE?!!

The fans of Red Sox Nation made the trek down the New Jersey Turnpike like lemmings – offering a level of support for the home team that is unprecedented in baseball annals. The total attendance for the three game series set an all-time record for Camden Yards. This season, the Orioles have sold out only 8 games – and 6 of those games were against the Red Sox. The seats in Baltimore’s gorgeous stadium were filled with fans wearing Red Sox apparel. Red Sox Nation was an invading army – descending from the north and filling the stadium, hotels, restaurants and bars of Baltimore County, much like General Burgoyne’s troops that overwhelmed Fort Ticonderoga from the north during the Revolutionary War.

The team rewarded their stalwart and peripatetic fans with two squanders of biblical proportion – wasting outstanding pitching efforts by Dice-K on Friday and Curt Schilling on Sunday. The vaunted Sox hitters left runners in scoring position all weekend long. The bullpen – the best in baseball, and recently allegedly reinforced with the addition of Eric Gagne – suffered the worst meltdown since the movie “The China Syndrome”! I blame Terry Francona as much as I blame Gagne, Snyder and Okajima.

Since his arrival from Texas, Gagne has not been able to survive an outing without getting hit hard. The explanations are legion – unfamiliarity with a role other than closer, getting used to a new team, etc. The truth is that he had proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is not yet ready to be put on the mound in a Red Sox uniform in a situation in which the game is on the line. Yet, on Friday night, with the Sox having carved out a late 5-1 lead in support of Dice-K’s outstanding performance, he gave up 4 runs, and the lowly Orioles went on to win in walk-off fashion in the 9th inning. Gagne should never have been on the mound in the first place, but he certainly should have been replaced long before he allowed the tying run to reach base.

The icing on the cake is that in yesterday’s game – with Schilling having pitched a gem through 6 innings, and the Sox clinging to a 3-1 lead, Francona again chose to trot Gagne out with the game on the line – only to see “déjà vu all over again”! Gagne coughed up a game-tying HR to Tejada on a 3-2 count in the bottom of the 8th. They went on to lose in 10 innings – to a walk-off HR by our old friend, Kevin Millar. Millar “Cowboyed Up” and the Sox were lassoed, hogtied, branded and saddled with another heart-breaking loss.

The Yankees are breathing down our necks as we round the Clubhouse turn. Red Sox Nation is furious and in full panic mode. Welcome to August in Boston! “God’s in His Heaven and all’s right with the world.”

Thanks for listening and reading. I feel better.

I’ll be at Fenway tonight!

Go Sox.

Al

2 comments:

Mark said...

Congrats on 500, and GO SOX!

I always enjoyed walking past your office in Boston, Al, when I used to work in the city, because I could always tell your desk by the Red Sox flag hanging in the window!!! :)

Diane said...

Would it be safer to say you are ALWAYS a fanatical Red Sox Fan?

Keep writing, you touch more people than you think. Just remember, if a politician's office receives an opinion from only 5 voters, they begin to take the issue seriously!!!!!