Every time the Red Sox play a series on the road, a considerable portion of their obnoxious fan base joins together to overrun the opponent's stadium, an invasion that serves the dual purpose of offering vocal support for the visiting side while also intimidating the locals, shouting and stupid-accenting them into coerced submission. However, while such behavior has become generally accepted and expected over the years, fans of the home team are still surprised to hear that they're not the only ones subjected to this kind of treatment, and that the origin of the practice dates back to Biblical times, when it was employed with even more sinister intentions. From the Book of Exodus:
And the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over Egypt so that Red Sox fans will swarm over the land and devour everything growing in the fields, everything left by the hail."
So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the Lord made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the Red Sox fans; they invaded all Egypt and settled down in every area of the country in great numbers. Never before had there been such a plague of Red Sox fans, nor will there ever be again. They covered all the ground until it was black. They devoured all that was left after the hail--everything growing in the fields and the fruit on the trees. Nothing green remained on tree or plant in all the land of Egypt.
Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the Lord your God to take this deadly plague away from me."
Moses then left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. And the Lord changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which caught up the Red Sox fans and carried them into the Red Sea. Not a Red Sox fan was left anywhere in Egypt.
(Presumably after so many centuries of acting as His hired goons, the Red Sox fans and God had a falling out, and they remained angry at each other until finally making up a few years ago.)
Thank goodness there're only another two days of this.
Biggest Contribution: Yuniesky Betancourt, +7.6%
Biggest Suckfest: Jamie Moyer, -29.7%
Most Important "Hit": Jones double play, -7.8%
Most Important Pitch: Gonzalez homer, -15.1%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -28.8%
Total Contribution by Position Players: -22.9%
I'm beginning to wonder if I've just permanently lost the stamina for daily (or nightly) recaps. It's been a while since the last time I sat here writing a recap and words just flowed out of my fingers. Of course, it's also been a while since the last time I was able to watch the Mariners play a good game, so maybe there's a correlation there, but I don't know. I'm still waiting on that second wind.
In the meantime - bullet points!
- "Thoroughly humiliating" might be the best and most appropriate way to describe tonight's game. Mariner fans were overrun in their own house, the offense got shut down by recent Kansas City castoff Kyle Snyder, Willie Ballgame batted second in a Major League lineup, and even Jamie Moyer's pickoff throws were getting tagged over the wall. I suppose there's nothing anyone could've done about number one (or, given Mike Hargrove's stunning lack of imagination, number three), but numbers two and four were avoidable, and one could make a convincing argument that what should've happened is the exact opposite of tonight's game.
- ...seriously, Sox fans will talk about how Snyder "came out of nowhere" to make an effective start, but the truth of the matter is that he looked terrible, and that the only reason he even made it through five innings is that the Mariner lineup couldn't put good swings on his garbage. I can't tell you how many times a hitter swung through or popped up one of the seemingly three dozen hanging curveballs Snyder tossed over the middle of the plate at 69mph. His fastball was okay but not a viable option for a primary pitch; fortunately for Snyder he didn't need it to be, since no one could hit any of the other crap he threw. A better batting order chases him out of the game pretty quickly tonight, which would've been nice, considering what happened to Jamie. At least when Joe Blanton shuts down the Mariners you can look at his pitches and convince yourself that a handful of them were legitimately terrific. Not Snyder. Not at all.
- I'll say this for Jamie - while the five home runs are (obviously) a career-high, the ball was carrying tonight (thanks in part to the heat), and some of the Sox were able to put great swings on good pitches. The one that stands out in my mind is Varitek's solo shot in the fourth; it looked like a changeup about a foot off the ground that Varitek was somehow able to get under and launch over the power alley. It was centered a little more than I'd like it to be, and I guess it's a bad sign when opposing hitters are blasting Jamie's good pitches 400+ feet, but I think tonight was a lot more "fluke" than "beginning of the end." Jamie's pitching on borrowed time, but I don't think his eventual collapse will be quite this sudden.
- It's a distressing thought, but the difference between 2005 Matt Thornton and 2006 Jake Woods isn't as large as it seems. Thornton actually had better stuff and threw more strikes; the only reason his ERA was so much higher is because his HR/flyball ratio spun out of control, while Woods has gotten pretty lucky so far. That's probably going to even out over the final two and a half months of the season, and Woods' ERA should end up in the upper 4's. The good news? Where Thornton was routinely brought into for important at bats (at least at the beginning of the season), Woods has shown up in some of the lowest-pressure situations imaginable, averaging nearly two innings per appearance as Hargrove's go-to mopup man. His probable ERA regression couldn't and shouldn't have any effect on anything.
- I don't know why, but whenever I see Julio Mateo I think he'd make for a pretty good animated cereal villain, like Count Chocula or the Cookie Crook.
- One of the most irritating things a person can do is make a joke and then immediately call attention to the joke by laughing at it or saying something to the effect of "now that's funny." Not only is it a dead giveaway that the person isn't very confident in his jokes (probably because he doesn't tell many good ones), but it also ruins any kind of subtlety present in the wordplay or delivery. Put another way, it's a great way to spoil a great joke. With that in mind, I present to you Dave Henderson, circa the third inning:
I think I'm going to give up golfing. ...until the next time I play. How 'bout that!
I didn't even have time to think "well that was actually somewhat clever" before he went and wrecked it. I haven't groaned that loud in years. Fortunately Hendu was able to salvage the broadcast by rattling off a string of knee-slappers in the ninth about how Julio Mateo has a valuable rubber arm and that Hargrove shouldn't be afraid to put him in a tie ballgame.
- One of mankind's more prominent universal truths is that, no matter how poor the condition of the Earth and its environment, it'll always be worse by the time your children's generation grows up and inherit the planet, and there's nothing anyone can do about it except be thankful that they won't be around when shit really hits the fan. The ice caps are melting, the rain forests are disappearing, the hole in the ozone is expanding, and Red Sox Nation grows by one member every four minutes.
- Adam Jones has swung at the first pitch in nine of his 21 plate appearances so far. His 3.05 pitches/PA would rank second-lowest among qualified hitters, just above Jay Payton (3.01). He's clearly an aggressive hitter, a guy who has the sort of approach you'd expect from someone who loves the first pitch as much as he says he does. That's all well and good - there are tons of guys with similar approaches who've been able to succeed in the big leagues - but what it means is that, in the short-term, pitchers are going to feast on this tendency by giving him first-pitch breaking balls to get ahead in the count. As evidenced by a truly godawful swing he took on a Kyle Snyder curve that ended about four feet low and away, Jones still has a lot of work to do when it comes to hitting anything that bends. It's going to be frustrating to watch, but it's important to remember that he still isn't 21, and by most accounts wasn't ready for the Majors when he got promoted. And hey, he picked up the first RBI of his ML career today with a double in the seventh, so it's progress. Be patient with Jones, because as much as many of us disagree with his being on the team right now, he's still going to be one of the most important players in the organization just a few years down the road.
Felix goes up against some guy I've never heard of tomorrow at 1:05pm PDT. You know what that means - MLB.tv blackout! And who names their kid "Kason"? Was "Gabbard" not already weird enough?