Friday, June 11, 2004

Defining Moments. Before tonight's opener against L.A. begins, a quick reflection on last night's game against the Padres. It was likely my only trip to Fenway this season and if it was, I sure have a sense of timing. Not only did Schilling dominate, not only did Pokey homer on his birthday, not only did Ortiz have four hits, but I was in attendance for the most significant Red Sox at bat of the season thus far. With the Sox leading 3-1 in the fifth inning, San Diego manager Bruce Bochy chose to intentionally walk Manny Ramirez to face the just-returned Nomar Garciaparra. Nomar responded with a two-run double off the leftfield wall. Sox opponents are now on notice: Nomar is back and the line-up is infinitely more potent than at any time since 2003.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

It's the delivery, stupid. Pedro Martinez went from looking like a number five starter in his last several starts to looking like his old self last night. Pedro had more velocity on his fastball, better location, and seemingly more confidence too.

Pedro, pitching coach Dave Wallace, Varitek, and others credit fixing a flaw in his delivery for his brilliant performance. Wallace went on to say things about his mechanical problems were minor that very few people would have noticed what was wrong. In the past we’ve heard this after other poor Pedro performances and dismal starts by Lowe or Wakefield. It never ceases to amaze me how pitching mechanics can make such a difference and how good coaching, even for a world-class athlete, is priceless.

Three wins in a row is always good. Nomar returns to Fenway tonight and I return to Fenway tomorrow for the first time this year. I can't wait. After my first outing of the season, however, I'm being sent down to South Carolina.


Monday, June 07, 2004

Two wins & the Gipper. Two wins in two days propel the Sox one game closer to the Yankees and settle the stomachs of Sox fans. Today's win, more satisfying than the first, may cure what ails resident head-case Derek Lowe. His exit from the ballgame after five innings was officially due to physical precautions – he developed a blister on his thumb between innings – but the thought of sending him back to the hill with a lead was enough, frankly, for Francona to be cautious.

Johnny Damon continued to reemerge as the player the Sox signed three years ago. Is it the trade talks that have motivated him? Being shipped to Kansas City or elsewhere in a deadline deal seems motivation enough for increased diligence at the plate.


I reread Alistair Cooke's 1967 profile of Ronald Reagan tonight from Cooke's enjoyable compilation Memories of the Great and The Good.

Those traits that I disliked about Reagan – his swagger in the face of worthy opposition, his combative cockiness I must admit are traits I also associate with the New York Yankees. His success, like the Yankees' was maddening, but done with just enough class to make me a bit nostalgic as I watched some of the tributes today.

Cooke forecasts, with eerie accuracy, Reagan’s appeal to the national electorate.

"He chants few slogans. He does not preach or intone. He sounds like a decent, deadly serious, baffled middle-class professional man. This, as an executive geared for social rebellion and reform, may be his weakness. But it is his strength among the voters that, in a country with a huge middle class, he so faithfully reflects their bewilderment at the collapse of the old, middle-class standards, protections, and, perhaps, shibboleths."

Reagan's domestic legacy, ironically, is the result of his disastrous economic policies that began eroding the middle class that propelled him to office. But it is a testament to his skillfulness as a politician that Middle America recalls him fondly at the word of his passing.

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