Saturday, September 15, 2007

Red Sox Snatch Defeat From Jaws of Victory

Baseball is not my favorite sport, though this summer is a bit of a renaissance in what has been a lapse in my attention to this long and sometimes interminable sport. But I have been a Red Sox fan, part of what is now called "Red Sox Nation," since the early fifties when I used to hitchhike down to Chicago to see Ted Williams play the White Sox. I do not remember a time when I did not hate the Yankees, though the fall of 911, I put a temporary hold on this negative obsession.

I've been to Fenway many times, and I must say that the vibe there is more intense than it is in Packer games, which I attended when they played in Milwaukee, or Cubs games at Wrigley when the Cubbies suddenly became contenders. Though I love NBA & support the Heat [Dwyane Wade went to Marquette U, my alma mater, & Shaq is uniquely lovable] and the Packers in the NFL, for some reason I find Red Sox/Yankee games incredibly absorbing---and tonight, incredibly frustrating. Dusty Baker, manager of the Cubs & before that, a player for the Dodgers, did the color and background for ESPN & he says that Red Sox/Yankee mano-a-mano are much more intense [and much longer] than any other major league games [or any other sport for that matter.]

I am writing this an hour after the eighth inning when the Yankees crushed Okajima & Papelbon for six runs, erasing a 7-2 Bosox lead. During the game, Bobby Valentine came in live from Osaka in the early morning glare and went into detail on the differences between US & Japanese baseball. [I had heard long ago that Japanese players overtrained, the pitchers throwing their arms out early in their careers because they did their version of Spring Training until their arms were sore. A bit analagous to the wonderfully overtrained carrier pilots who pulled off the spectacular Pearl Harbor, but drowned when three of their carriers were sunk six months later at Midway & they had to ditch---the Japanese carrier force projection never was the same]. Valentine mentioned many differences & Baker astutely noted that Japan did not have vast travel distances and four time zones to contend with. But Baker/Sutcliffe might have commented that Japanese pitchers [Daisuke & Okajima both threw tonight & Dice-K wore out in the fifth inning, Okajima didn't get a put-out & threw two yard balls] tend to lack endurance during the punishingly long US baseball season with its playoffs & "World Series." Could this be true, as Valentine mentioned that the Japanese season was different & that most teams in the Japanese leagues were rest-stops, sort of like the NL Central or Triple-A franchises.

Tomorrow Wang pitches for the Yankees & he is Taiwanese & has 18 wins. I wonder if the Chinese & Korean pitcher suffer any endurance problems, or if this is an urban myth bad-mouthing Japanese pitchers.

And now I will retire after midnight to my quarters & read The Looming Tower just to raise my spirits.

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