a closer's strength flows from the force
So, by mid-July, I obviously meant later on Thursday afternoon. Clearly, I should always check with the Schillblog before making any blog declarations of my own. Also, Papelbon totally keeps a pitching diary.
Jonathan Papelbon's Spring Training Diary
DAY 1: First day of the rest of my life as a starter!
DAY 4: Heard "Wild Thing" on the radio on the way to the complex this morning, had the song stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Don't know what that's about.
DAY 8: Timlin keeps calling me "Starter Boy." Yesterday, thought, I thought I heard him do that thing where you fake-cough and say a word while you're fake-coughing, and the word I thought he said while fake-coughing was "traitor." I didn't say anything, though, because I don't think I could take him, even when he's on the DL.
DAY 16: Had a weird nightmare last night. I was pitching, and I staked a seven-run lead, 10 Ks in 7 innings, nasty stuff. Then Julian gave up eight runs in the ninth and we lost. Then I woke up, but I couldn't fall back asleep for hours.
DAY 17: Had the nightmare again last night, except this time instead of Julian it was Joel Pineiro.
DAY 25: While I was signing autographs today, a kid asked me to ask Manny if he'd seen any teams auctioning a closer on Ebay.
DAY 26: Had the nightmare again, this time it was Donnelly.
DAY 27: I asked Ashley if she wants to watch The Lion King again tonight. She said she thinks I'm having "destiny issues." I said that if she wanted to watch Star Wars instead, she should have just said so. She said, "That's exactly my point." Have no idea what she was talking about.
DAY 28: Had the nightmare again last night, this time it was Seanez, and he doesn't even play for Boston anymore! Okay, maybe I miss closing a little bit.
DAY 29: Maybe I miss closing ... a lot.
DAY 30: Fuck it, I want to be the closer again. That's not weird, right? Maybe I should just start jogging out to the mound in the ninth. Maybe no one would notice? In times like these, I think WWTD (What Would Tek Do)?
DAY 31: Tek said, "Whatever you decide, I'll be proud of you, son." Thank God. Weird thing, though -- Schill was in the dugout with his laptop the whole time. He does that a lot lately. I don't know what he's doing -- maybe he's selling stuff on Ebay, too?
the crackpots and these pitchers
I was sitting on the 88 bus and talking on the phone with Katie this morning, and:
KATIE: [Starts to tell story about being shenanigated by bar's $10 credit card charge minimum, drinking more beers than originally intended.]
KELLY: Sorry, I got distracted in the middle of your story.
KATIE: Yeah, I could tell.
KELLY: There's a woman reading a copy of the Herald and the back page has a picture of Papelbon and says "PAP TO THE RESCUE."
KELLY: Anyway, sorry, keep going.
KATIE: [Continues story, reminisces about heady days when we resolved to do shot every time the Patriots scored a touchdown during the post-season.]
KELLY: Okay, so it looks like the sub-headline says "Suddenly, Papelbon back in Red Sox' closer picture."
KELLY: I kind of want to steal that woman's paper.
KATIE: I'm sure you do.
Fortunately, they were giving out free copies of the Herald at Government Center, so I neither had to steal nor pay for a copy. And, as many others in the Red Sox blogosphere have already noted, the article was just another case of "sky is blue, grass is green, Manny is crazy" groundbreaking reporting by the Herald. Fortunately, I keep a crystal ball in my humongous Timbuk2 bag and was able to see into the future, and am able to transcribe for you a brief excerpt from a press conference with Theo Epstein, to be held on July 12, 2007:
THEO: I think this press conference is about we haven't had a press conference in a while.
REPORTER #1: Do you have any comment on the on-going criminal investigation?
THEO: Our lawyers have advised me not to say too much, but it's my impression that after those three straight blown saves against Tampa Bay last week, the fans' attack on Julian Tavarez is being ruled in self-defense.
REPORTER #2: What can you tell us about the recent passing of Mike Timlin?
THEO: I absolutely believe Mike Timlin will be pitching for the big club again by August. We're very encouraged by the rehab start he made for the Single A Styx River Dogs earlier this week.
REPORTER #3: Has there been any discussion of using Matt Clement as a closer, just to try and get your money's worth?
THEO: I'm not aware that of a player by that name on our roster.
REPORTER #1: So what do you plan to do about the closer situation?
THEO: We have a new closer!
REPORTER #2: Is it Papelbon?
THEO: It depends on what your definition of "is" is.
REPORTER #3: So what you're saying is that Papelbon will be returning to the bullpen.
THEO: The name of our new closer is ... Vick Raughn.
the first kick i took was when i hit the ground
1. I missed Papelbon's first spring training appearance because I was intoxicated (yeah, I know it was at, like, one o'clock in the afternoon, and no, I don't want to rescind that statement). I watched the replay of his second game last Wednesday night and said to the PM, as soon as she got home, that I really forgot how much watching Pap strike a bitch out does for my health and well-being. And now, Tina Cervasio's cavernous maw just told me that he struck out four but gave up two home runs during his simulated game today, but we shouldn't be concerned, because it's hard to get your adrenaline up during a simulated game, and Papelbon is a player who thrives on adrenaline. Asking him to pitch well in a simulated game is like asking a tiger to stalk its prey in a zoo. (I made that last sentence up ... maybe. He did apparently shoot 4,402 ducks in the off-season.) Anyway, allegedly on Saturday he will have his first actual start in his history of being a starter again for the very first time. Awesome.
2. I keep going into the bargain basement of the City Sports in Downtown Crossing to look for bandanas (I like to resemble Bruce Springsteen circa 1984 as much as possible while working out), and there continues to be a table of marked down Alex Gonzalez jersey shirts. It's depressing.
3. I just cannot fathom what is going on here. Although Bill Belichick does strike me as the kind of guy who would really appreciate the knuckleball. He's probably trying to get Wake to show him if it could be adapted to throw a football or something. Also, is it just me or is seeing Bill Belichick in shorts kind of like seeing someone's grandfather naked?
4. Okay, let's go back to this duck hunting thing for a second. The PM points out, 4,402 ducks, 145 days in the off-season, so that's what, 30 ducks a DAY? Does he think he's going to need to feed himself for the long New England summer? Does he tear off their heads with his teeth before starts? If he does, I'm totally fine with that, I'm just curious.
5. Seriously, I'm watching this Sox/Yankees game (Paddy McMurphy, my other roommate: "Who's winning?" Me: "The Yankees." Him: "That's too bad." Me: "I refuse to get worked up over spring training games. That way lies madness." Him: "Okay." Me: "So I'm saving it for next year") and I swear to God, you guys, Manny is wearing a red shower cap.
6. And Papelbon apparently agreed to a one-year deal today. Terms are currently undisclosed, but I imagine it involved a sizable amount of Monopoly money, an emulator for Nintendo's Duck Hunt game and a shiny new light saber.
starter boy's gonna kick your ass
"If I go out there and my guy Mikey Lowell or somebody like that gets hit, well, you're damn right I'm going to come get one of their guys," (from here).
That's right, Pap, no one
puts Mikey in a corner hits Mikey and gets away with it. Screw the rules is what I always say.
And you know who else probably says that? Your good friend and deer-killing afficianado Mike Timlin. You know, the one who's taken to calling you "Starter Boy". Which is seriously adorable and I know that calling baseball players and their mocking-each-other rituals "adorable," makes me a girl, but what can I do?
Besides, I feel like somebody needs to sound a bit like a girl, since Jackie MacMullen and her constant use of weirdly agressive sports-insider phrasing ("shut it down," "filthy fastball," calling Pap a "stud," etc.) makes her sound like she should be coughing up blood and tobacco juice with Tito*.
Anyway, the column is also enjoyable for its insight into how Pap feels about doctors:
"You know how it is. When you get doctors involved, they've got to talk about every last fiber in your body."
"Of course there's doubt," Papelbon answered. "Doubt is part of the human element, but I'm better than that."
Advice from his coach and GM:
"They were a little worried, but they shouldn't be. I'm fine."
And beating up those bratty twins:
"My father got so sick of it he bought me boxing gloves for Christmas," Papelbon said.
Which is all to say that guys who even THINK about hitting Mikey should probably remember that baseballs are way harder than boxing gloves. *Please note, I am a HUGE fan of Jackie and think she's a great writer. I almost always agree with her, and I TOTALLY respect her as a woman in the male-dominated sports world. I'm just saying sometimes after I read her columns, I feel an overwhelming need to go paint my nails pink while imagining my perfect date with Tom Brady (a movie first-- a comdey, maybe something from the Will Ferrell oeuvre, then dinner somewhere quiet and French, and a nice long walk down the pretty parts of Comm Ave, ending with an incredibly wholesome and guaranteed-not-to-get-me-knocked-up kiss on the cheek. Oh, TOM).