By now we have all had time to digest last night’s 4-0 whitewash of the Angels and the story in all the papers is Josh Beckett, our fire-balling Texas bad-ass of an ace who was every bit that guy the Sox hoped he’d be when they acquired him from the Marlins before last season.
Bob Ryan, per usual, has the best look at Beckett, trotting out the names Luis Tiant, Jim Lonborg, Boo Ferris and Babe Ruth while attempting to put Beckett’s dominance into historical context. While Beckett was the story there were other undercurrents swirling around what certainly seemed like a subdued Fenway last night.
1. What was up with that crowd last night?
Allowing for the possibility that the TBS feed muted the buzz, it sure seemed like the Faithful was sitting on its hands for much of the night. Here was Beckett dominating in a manner not seen since the Great Pedro days, and it wasn’t until the seventh that the crowd seemed completely aware of what the man was doing.
Has the 2006 disaster already been erased from the fan’s collective memory? Are the Fenway crowds entitled? Are the Pink Hats really taking over? (Sorry for the shameless crossover link).
Let’s put it another way. I watched part of the game with a friend who is a big Phillies fan. He’s been living and dying with every pitch for two months and he has expressed the opinion on several occasions that a giant coronary is going to be hitting any minute now. These TV viewing eyes did not sense that tension last night at Fenway. You only get so many chances at something like this.
It will be interesting to see if there is a change in the Friday night crowd.
2. The Angels look like they’re in trouble
Let’s see: Injuries to Bartolo Colon and Gary Matthews, a lineup so toothless they’re talking about putting Vladimir Guerrero and his 300-year-old knees back in the field, an ace who doesn’t match up well against the Sox, and Garret Anderson has pink eye!? Whoa.
3. Don’t trust the radar gun
The Globe had Beckett hitting 93-95. TBS had him (and a rejuvenated Ervin Santana, as well) hitting 97-98. Methinks the TBS gun is a tad juiced.
4. Speaking of TBS
First, can we all agree that is wonderful to not have to endure ESPN’s Three Stooges routine (that being Chris Berman, Rick Sutcliffe and Steve Phillips)? However, the TBS coverage left a little to be desired. Twice they came back late from those awful Dane Cook promos (one time missing a play entirely), and listening to Ted Robinson and Steve Stone was like relaxing with a pair of Ambien.
Robinson is a good announcer. He is a a pro’s pro, but he was off his game last night. Stone is sometimes part of the old-school bunt ’em over crowd, but every once in a while, he’ll pull a gem out of his back pocket (witness his refusal to play the time-honored the Angels run, the Red Sox don’t card, correctly saying that the Sox run more than they have in the past.) I hope for better as we progress.
5. And finally…
The entire first five minutes of the broadcast was spent silently saying to myself, “No C.B. Bucknor, No C.B. Bucknor.” Sure enough, manning the right field lines was none other than, ugh, C.B. Bucknor.
In 2003, Sports Illustrated conducted a fairly extensive players-survey and one of the questions they asked was, who is the worst umpire in baseball? Bucknor was the landslide winner.
Bucknor has worked a lot of Red Sox games this year, and each time he has had the plate his strike zone has had a Choose Your Own Adventure feel. (Ask the aforementioned Phillie fan about the squeeze job C.B. put on Jamie Moyer a week ago). I will confess to ignorance on the six-man umpiring rotation, so if anyone knows if Bucknor will get the plate in (shudder) Game 5, let us know.
With an off-day today, Game 2 awaits Friday. It’s all feeling a little too formal at this point, which is, of course, making us very uneasy.
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