Joe Niekro/Red Sox-Indians Game 4 Chat

October 16, 2007
Life is a knuckleball, a jagged, ridiculous path with no guarantees. Maybe things will work out OK, maybe things will work out horribly, but most likely they’ll be a mixture of the two, your beleaguered catcher unable to handle strike three, which will bound to the backstop and allow mounting adversity another baserunner and more chances to whale on the knucklers that don’t knuckle. And there will be plenty of knucklers that don’t knuckle.

But though the ability to throw good knuckleballs seems to come and go almost without reason, there is also something about knuckleballs, and about life, that gives a late-blooming nobody such as myself hope. Consider Joe Niekro, seen here with a pensive look altogether appropriate for a 33-year-old 10-year veteran with a losing lifetime record. Perhaps Joe Niekro is wondering if the end is near. In fact, Joe Niekro at the time of this 1978 card was attempting to reinvent himself from a mediocre fastball-curveball pitcher to a pitcher who could, like his older brother Phil, rely on the most unreliable phenomenon in the baseball world, the knuckleball. And Joe Niekro did end up mastering the pitch as few others have, going on to win 221 major league games, most of them coming after the time when most major league pitchers have traded in their baseball cleats for golf shoes. The knuckleball offers the possibility of redemption.

Consider Tim Wakefield, who starts for the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 of the A.L. Championship Series tonight (8:07 ET, FOX). Wakefield was a washed-up light-hitting minor league first baseman when he first decided his path to the majors was going to have to follow the flight of the knuckleball. He made it to the majors at age 25, hardly a phenom, but pitched brilliantly in his rookie season to help the Pittsburgh Pirates win their division. The knucklegods abandoned him the following season, and in the season after that he pitched poorly again, this time in Triple A. In the offseason he sought the help of Phil and Joe Niekro, and by 1995 he was back in the majors, pitching well for the Boston Red Sox. Though he has been for some time the longest-tenured current player on the Red Sox, and by all accounts a steadying clubhouse influence and a beloved pillar of the community, his fortunes have continued to rise and fall as if tied to the transitory, unpredictable qualities of the pitch he relies on. One month he is unhittable, the next the sweating maestro of wild pitches and beachball lobs, the next a maddening combination of the two.

Even in his worst moments, as in the 2003 playoffs when an unknuckling knuckler was Bucky-Dented by Aaron Boone over the left field fence to eliminate the Red Sox, Wakefield is never far from his best (before that pitch Wakefield had been so brilliant that if the Red Sox had hung on to win he probably would have won the series MVP); and even at his best, such as his fearless and stupendous 3 frames of extra-inning shutout ball to win Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees, he is never far from hideous disaster, his pitches moving so much in that game that the Yankees nearly grabbed a lead on the following “rally”:

Top of the 13th, Yankees Batting, Tied 4-4, Tim Wakefield facing 3-4-5
            6  G Sheffield    Strikeout Swinging, Passed Ball; Sheffield to 1B
   O      1–  5  H Matsui     Groundout: 2B-SS/Forceout at 2B
   O      1–  3  B Williams    Flyball: RF
          1–     J Posada       Passed Ball; Matsui to 2B
          -2-  5  ” ”               Intentional Walk
          12-     R Sierra        Passed Ball; Matsui to 3B; Posada to 2B
   O      -23  7  ” ”             Strikeout Swinging

And so now, as they have so often in recent seasons, the fortunes of the Boston Red Sox rest on that metaphor for the transitory and uncontrollable nature of life itself, the knuckleball. I’ll be wearing my treasured Tim Wakefield T-shirt and praying.

And probably also drinking fairly heavily.


  1. 1.  Old Dodger fans who ever saw Charlie Hough pitch know just how maddening it is to root for a knuckleballer.

    I started out this series not knowing where my rooting interest would end up. After three games I still have no clear rooting interest. Both teams have at times pulled yells of delight from me. I’m waiting for a sign but it has yet to appear. This may be as long as I’ver ever gone without getting off the fence.

  2. 2.  I love this Joe Niekro fact from Wikipedia:

    “When the Minnesota Twins released a bobblehead set of the 1987 World Series team, the bobblehead for Niekro included the nail file in his back pocket.”

    He flicked that thing away from him and the ump so smoothly:


    Like contemporary pitcher Ken Brett, who was also brother to another HOF MLBer, both passed away relatively recently.

  3. 3.  Josh,

    I’ve always wondered why more pitchers do not learn to throw that damn knuckle-ball. Look at the longevity of these pitchers’ careers, and look at the innings they can log.

    Joe Niekro would throw 260 or 270 innings easily. Phil would throw well over 300 innings a season. Here is a stretch of 3 years for Phil:

    330 innings
    334 innings
    342 innings

    Check out Wilbur Wood for 4 years:

    334 innings
    376 innings
    359 innings
    320 innings


    If I was an MLB pitcher, I’d want to learn that pitch!

    Josh, I’m pulling for the Indians, but I’ll toast a beer to ya during the game any how, because you’ve given me so much just to read your regular postings. Cheers!

  4. 4.  Josh: A baseball card mystery that has plagued me since the 1978 Topps set, which is somehow in no way related to the Red Sox or the Indians, but I’ll put it out here anyway, since it nags at me every time I see I card from the 1978 set.

    Why was Richie Zisk not shown as an All-Star in the 1978 set?

    I can’t find an explanation anywhere, but I distinctly recall, in 1978, looking for that third AL All-Star Outfielder. No one I knew had ever seen one, and for a while, we became convinced it was Larry Hisle, because the white circle that showed his position of “OF” did not have the representation of baseball stitching (as shown in Joe Neikro’s card above). However, having just looked up who the three AL All-Stars were in the 1977 game, I now realize it was Richie Zisk. Problem being, Zisk didn’t get the special All-Star logo on his card.

    Any idea why? Does anyone else recall this mystery from nearly 30 years ago? It would almost be like leaving the designation off of Maglio Ordonez 2008 card next year.

  5. 5.  Here is a link to the local Cleveland radar for weather/rain purposes. (SFW)

    vr, Xei

  6. 6.  1 : Thanks for at least considering the Red Sox, ToyCannon. I get the sense that the majority of neutral fans are pulling for the long-suffering Indians (and rooting against the over-media-saturated Red Sox).

    2 : What a collector’s item that bobblehead must be.

    3 : I think the Red Sox organization has tried to act on the idea that a knuckleballer is a useful guy to have around. They have a guy named Charlie Zink in their system who has been progressing fairly nicely, I think. Hopefully he can step in when Wakefield starts to slow down in ten years or twenty years or so.

    Not for nothing, but the name “Charlie Zink” seems to really suit a knuckleballer. The White Sox also have a young knuckleballer named Charlie (Haeger).

    I guess it’s so unpredictable that players and organizations alike are reluctant to cozy up to it too much.

    4 : Man, I don’t know why Richie Zisk was dissed in the ’78 Topps set. Dis Richie Zisk at your own risk!

    5 : Arrrrggh. I hate playoff rainouts. From the weather reports I’ve seen it looks like they have a chance to get the game in. Thanks for posting that, Xeifrank.

  7. 7.  To tie this blog entry with the previous one, I think the old story about Giants broadcaster Hank Greenwald needs to be retold.

    Greenwald was telling a story on the air about a knuckleballer, but ended up confusing Joe Niekro with his brother, Phil. When told of his mistake, Greenwald responded, “Well, you know what they say: all Niekros look alike.”

  8. 8.  6
    I rooted for the RedSox for 45 of my 48 years so it is actually harder to not root for them then to root for them if that makes any sense.

  9. 9.  Below are the lineups, courtesy of yahoo.com (http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/boxscore?gid=271016105). I don’t know how many more hopeless Coco Crisp at-bats I can suffer through. I was hoping for Ellsbury to get the start in centerfield, but Francona’s lineup supports his reputation as a guy who stays the course. The subtraction of last night’s sole offensive producer, Varitek, for the punchless Mirabelli (Wake’s personal catcher) bodes of many quiet innings for the Red Sox. (Byrd also has his personal catcher, Kelly Shoppach.)

    Pedroia 2b
    K. Youkilis 1b
    D. Ortiz dh
    M. Ramirez lf
    M. Lowell 3b
    J.D. Drew rf
    C. Crisp cf
    D. Mirabelli c
    J. Lugo ss

    T. Wakefield p


    G. Sizemore cf
    A. Cabrera 2b
    T. Hafner dh
    V. Martinez 1b
    J. Peralta ss
    K. Lofton lf
    C. Blake 3b
    F. Gutierrez rf
    K. Shoppach c

    P. Byrd p

  10. 10.  Much to my surprise, the Indians have used only two catchers all season: Martinez and Shoppach.

    It’s impressive that neither of them got hurt enough that they had to miss time. Nor did the Indians bring up a third catcher during September.

  11. 11.  10

    I’ve seen Martinez being used as a 1st baseman at times, maybe that has something to do with it.

  12. 12.  11 : He’s playing first tonight. I guess they saved him from some of the wear and tear throughout the season that way–he caught “only” 121 games.

  13. 13.  Victor Martinez (5 AB,3H,1,400 OBP & a 600 BA) is the only Indian with good #’s against Wakefield, Kenny Lofton has a good obp (.379) against him but that’s pretty much it.

  14. 14.  Yo, is this where the game chat’s at?

  15. 15.  Efficient.

  16. 16.  14 : That’s the idea. I’ll start: So far the Red Sox look flat like a pancake. And as my friend Matt just said on the phone: for the next three hours my whole life’s serenity depends on a knuckleball, and that’s no way to live.

  17. 17.  My sympathies, Josh.
    Even though I hope Wakefield walks eleven, I’ll be feeling just slightly bad about it if he does.

    Hm, I bet Mirabelli has the worst record in baseball at throwing out stealers. Through no fault of his own, I mean.

  18. 18.  Yeah, WAKE.

    It’s good to see him out there.

  19. 19.  So far so good with the knuckler.

  20. 20.  I want to see if the Red Sox team philosophy against Paul Byrd is to sit breaking ball. It worked so well for the Yankees.

  21. 21.  17
    You have never seen the Padres catchers. It is apparently against the law for a Padres pitcher to hold a runner on. Josh Bard had some horrible numbers. Michael Barret was bad after he came over too.

    Miguel Olivo in Florida was awful as well.

    Bard threw out 10 runners trying to steal and 121 were successful.

  22. 22.  An unlikely pitchers’ duel.

  23. 23.  22 : Unlikely except for the fact that the knuckleball is dancing and the Red Sox offense has devolved to Manny Ramirez and 8 corpses.

  24. 24.  21 Michael Barrett was bad well before that.

  25. 25.  Yo Josh,
    Your man Wake is looking hellacious through two innings. Man, god bless HD. The replay from behind the plate that they showed on the last pitch to Blake was incredible.

  26. 26.  Just to let everyone know, I predicted to a friend that Wakefield would pitch 18 2/3 scoreless innings tonight, but would give up a walk off HR to Kenny Lofton in the 19th.

    You heard it here first.

  27. 27.  Okay Papi, big spot.

  28. 28.  That was anticlimactic.

    Or if you don’t like the weather it was anticlimatic.

  29. 29.  I always thought Lance Niekro should have been a knuckleball pitcher.

  30. 30.  man, I’d give anything to hit against Wakefield.

  31. 31.  Lance Niekro hit like a knuckleball pitcher.

  32. 32.  30 In body armor.
    28 Or if you like to get in a game before the weather system moves in, it’s anteclimatic.

  33. 33.  Hey, do you guys have the well known superstition that would be relevant to this particular game? (I do not, but I want to play by house rules.)

  34. 34.  I don’t know if Cardboard Gods has a Rule 9? I don’t think it even has a Rule 1!

  35. 35.  33 : I don’t know what you are talking about and I don’t want to know what you are talking about, if you get my drift. Consider this an opportunity to talk around a subject, but even the idea that there might be a subject to talk about is ridiculous, because there isn’t.

  36. 36.  35
    Interesting game isn’t it?

  37. 37.  36 : Not quite as interesting as a minute ago.

  38. 38.  Getting more interesting, too.

  39. 39.  Yeah, I guess it all depends on your perspective.

  40. 40.  This game is no longer interesting.

  41. 41.  Just in case someone hasn’t heard it before, Bob Uecker said he had an easy method for catching the knuckleball-wait until it stops rolling, then pick it up.

  42. 42.  Geez, Paul Byrd vs. Tim Wakefield. Subtitle this one: Two Guys Who Pitch Like It’s Beer League Softball.

  43. 43.  It’s always the third baseman isn’t it?

  44. 44.  Whops.

    If it’s high, let it fly indeed.

    I sometimes wonder how Tim gets anybody out.

  45. 45.  I have a mancrush on the knuckleball too, but like Josh so wittingly said, I hate to depend on it for my baseball life.

    I’ll say it-I think we’re screwed.

  46. 46.  It’s always the third baseman with 10 letters all together in his first and last name.

  47. 47.  45 Who’s this “we,” kemo sabe?

  48. 48.  Oh there it is. That acid/chalky taste in the back of my throat that arrives at least once per Wakefield appearance. I love this man, but for Heaven’s sake, he’s not good for the nerves.

  49. 49.  For those of you watching, did Slapgate 2.0: Dusty edition really happen?

  50. 50.  It’s Cleveland’s year.

    I’m buttering these words, in case I have to eat them, but I somehow think I won’t.

  51. 51.  46 The third baseman who has a first name for a last name and a last name for a first name, too.

    47 Boston fans.

  52. 52.  How can it be Cleveland’s year? I thought it was Colorado’s year?

    It can only be one team’s year at a time!

  53. 53.  So much for the vaunted strength of our starting pitching.

  54. 54.  It’s definitely COL’s year.

    Rockies in 4.

  55. 55.  51
    My cat’s name is Casey.

    I would never name a cat Blake.

  56. 56.  53 It’s 3 runs, and it’s far from over.

  57. 57.  Blake Edwards.

  58. 58.  55 You can make 46 even more specific by saying the 10 letters are divided evenly between his first and last names.

  59. 59.  Oh phooey, Casey Blake’s real first name is William.

  60. 60.  Cleveland and Colorado have to share a year. It’s the year of CLEVELAND ROCKS, after all.

  61. 61.  59 Then he should play for Detroit!!!

  62. 62.  52 Everything that happens after the Red Sox are eliminated from the playoffs is semi unreal for me-like the Canadian Football League or American Idol. I know it happens, but I prefer not to think about it.

  63. 63.  Son of a bitch.

  64. 64.  feh.

  65. 65.  Anybody read any good books lately? I’m reading James T. Farrel’s Studs Lonigan trilogy. It’s really good.

  66. 66.  Ok, NOW things look pretty bad.

  67. 67.  The Celtics have a decent shot of coming out of the east this year if they can pick up a veteran point guard to split time with Rondo.

  68. 68.  65 I painfully recall the 1986 ALCS so don’t give up hope.

  69. 69.  The lack of functioning cable TV at my house may not be an issue now.

  70. 70.  I’ve been meaning to go see Into the Wild. I liked the book. I’ll probably also see the Wes Anderson movie. I like everything he does, more or less. Ah, god damn it.

  71. 71.  65 : Yep, I got Cormac McCarthy’s latest sitting on the bedside table, and I’m just now feeling motivated to start a’readin’ it.

  72. 72.  Maybe I should take up a foreign language or learn computer programming.

  73. 73.  Casey Blake’s bio lists his wife’s as Abbie (Archibald).

    Now I assume Archibald is her maiden name, but wouldn’t it be interesting if her real first name were Archibald?

  74. 74.  I have seen parts of “Major League” for the last few weeks on TV, maybe its some karma thing.

    They need to start showing that Jimmy Fallon movie on TV.

    Okay maybe that’s a bit much.

  75. 75.  I’m so happy. Tim McCarver just said it again: that “one would think” a lead-off walk would be more likely than a lead-off homer to lead to a multi-run inning, but that he had his guy research it and it isn’t true. He’s just dumbfounded. I knew he said that before, but I missed it the first time.

  76. 76.  I do have a Tris Speaker biography waiting for me at home.

  77. 77.  75 I started laughing hysterically when I heard that. I had never heard it before. He’s still pushing it! My roommate was confused.

  78. 78.  73 Then Mighty Casey would have some wacko in-laws.

  79. 79.  70
    No, no, no not Wes Anderson! He’s my archenemy!

  80. 80.  71 I bought that, too. I’m just waiting to get into the mental place where I’m able to read it. Everything I’ve ever heard about it says it’s real, real dark, and that’s not what I need just now.

    And not just because of baseball.

    72 Maybe you should assemble, edit, and self publish Cardboard Gods…hint hint hint…..

  81. 81.  70 I want to see Into the Wild too. Good books I’ve read lately:

    A Thread of Grace, Mary Doria Russell
    The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell
    Mayflower, Nathaniel Philbrick
    The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama
    Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks

    If you have kids, I recommend reading the Septimus Heap trilogy, and we’re nearly done with the Lemony Snickett series.

  82. 82.  If the bleeding stops here, the Indians would have put up 7-spots in their last two innings they’ve scored in.

  83. 83.  Except for the part about me forgetting about Game 3.

    Never mind.

  84. 84.  77 Yet, I find McCarver a likable dope, inoffensive.

  85. 85.  And since when did Paul Byrd turn into Jeff Weaver?

  86. 86.  76 I’ve been thinking about reading that. He was an interesting cat.

  87. 87.  Maybe I should take up a foreign language or learn computer programming.

    These are some of my favorite things. I recommend learning to play the piano, if you don’t already.

  88. 88.  84 Chip Caray, on the other hand…

  89. 89.  81 I loved the book for Into the Wild, and I read the Esquire piece where Penn talked about making it. It sounds like I’ll like it, but my wife probably won’t, so I’ll likely never see it.

  90. 90.  This game is no longer fun. Maybe I’ll drop by to hang when Beckett puts on his cape and tights. Ciao.

  91. 91.  Gee, the Let’s Save Beckett For Game Five Idea really worked out well.

    I should just stop whining. The Indians are just good, better than we are, period.

    How many days until spring training?

  92. 92.  90 Beckett in tights…I hate you.

  93. 93.  Did Francona fall asleep? Is he aware Delcarmen hasn’t retired a batter yet?

  94. 94.  90 I don’t think you allowed to say that name right now.

  95. 95.  91 Now you know how Dodgers fans felt when they got pounded by the Rockies X games in a row, knocking the Dodgers out of the race and catapulting the Rockies into it. It’s also how I felt when the Angels lost to the Red Sox. At some point, you realize your team is just not going to do it.

    P.S. I’m sure Bob can solve for X.

  96. 96.  76 bh, which Tris Speaker biography is it?

    Tris Speaker: The Rough and Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend


    Spoke: A Biography of Tris Speaker (Sport in American Life)

  97. 97.  7-0 seems like a high mountain to claim.

  98. 98.  95 x=7

  99. 99.  Youk. Not, mind you, Youk! Just…Youk.

  100. 100.  Yoooooooooooooooooouk!

  101. 101.  Oh goody, it’s 7-1. Holy fruitless gesture, Batman.

  102. 102.  100 : OK, what the hell, Yooouuuukkk!!!

  103. 103.  hehehe

    He’s my fav Sox behind Wake

  104. 104.  93 Maybe it’s me, but Francona’s pulling of the starters seems inexplicable.

  105. 105.  Ain’t no mountain high enough.
    Ain’t no river wide enough.

  106. 106.  I guess the Jeff Weaver mask is slipping.

  107. 107.  96 The second one.

  108. 108.  It’s kind of about time the BoSox got to Byrd… but he’s out of the game now.

  109. 109.  But they named the Rose Queen today!

    News flash: It’s an overachieving cute girl from the west end of the San Gabriel Valley.

    This is big news out in my neck of the woods.

    We treat our Rose Queens like royalty.

  110. 110.  oh man….

  111. 111.  I don’t think this has happened before in the postseason.

  112. 112.  Wow, that was some shot by Manny!

  113. 113.  that thing was crushed to right center

  114. 114.  Cue Joe Buck disgust at Manny Ramirez watching that HR from home plate a bit too long.

  115. 115.  111 Yeah, the dynasty era Yankees did it once, ’97 I would guess.

    Hey, guess you guys are talking about baseball again.

  116. 116.  Manny is too cool for school.

  117. 117.  Varitek has a nasty ‘do

  118. 118.  7+1 game tonight ?

  119. 119.  Tim needs to mention that it’s another multi-run inning, started with a lead-off home run.

  120. 120.  If it wasn’t already, have Byrd’s starts against the Yanks and the Bosox in the post-season cinched his $8 million option?

  121. 121.  119 Niiice.

  122. 122.  Jensen Lewis is no Chase Wright.

  123. 123.  111 ,115 Raines-Jeter-O’Neill hit 3 straight HR for the Yanks against Cleveland in Game 1 of the 1997 NLDS vs. Cleveland.


  124. 124.  109 Having spent some time in Arcadia, okay really at Santa Anita, I wouldn’t say its in the west end of the San Gabriel Valley since it is probably east of all the areas that fall into the Tournament of Roses Pagent jurisdiction (if there is such a thing). Only Monrovia it slighly northeast of Arcadia.

  125. 125.  123 Thanks, for some reason I thought Tino was involved.

  126. 126.  Ahh, yes. Messrs. Raines, Jeter, and O’Neill in the 1997 ALDS Game 1 against Messrs Plunk and Assenmacher.

  127. 127.  124
    The Rose Queen is from Arcadia.

    Queen Dusty!

  128. 128.  125
    Because Tino Martinez was involved in EVERY clutch play with the Yankees.

  129. 129.  127 And Arcadia is west of….San Dimas, Azusa.

  130. 130.  128 was??? He still is, guiding the ball where it needs to go…

  131. 131.  I just finished reading your Bob Welch piece Josh (very nice) I was almost 14 yrs old when I stopped collecting baseball cards my self.

  132. 132.  Tino is Spanish for “yankee.” Martinez is Spanish for “clutch.”

  133. 133.  Talk about the Rose Queen dovetails with my observations that, ’round these parts, there seems to me to be an inordinate amount of media attention directed at high school sports, an event that should really only be of interest to the high schoolers in question and their families.

  134. 134.  133 Which “parts” are these?

  135. 135.  132 : Hey, I’m already on my way to learning a foreign language (see 72 ).

  136. 136.  Emeril Lagasse is the grand marshal of the Rose Parade? I guess I wasn’t paying attention.

    The quality of grand marshals has gone down since the heyday of Bob Newhart getting the job.

  137. 137.  Not to belabor the point, but the picture of the Rose Queen in the LA Times link below is priceless when you realize that the guy pictured is her father.


    I’m surprised the Tournament of Roses let that guy in the door.

  138. 138.  129 Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga!

  139. 139.  134 South Jersey, Philadelphia metro area

  140. 140.  Julio Lugo, the gift that never really gives anything.

  141. 141.  Well, that’s two of the nine outs.


    Didn’t I say I was going to stop whining?

  142. 142.  Still time for five solo homers.

  143. 143.  81
    Septimus Heap?
    I’ll have to check that out.
    -Thought “The End” (last of Lemony Snicket) was anticlimactic, but I won’t telegraph any spoilers.
    Check out the Bartimaeus Trilogy–great YA fantasy fiction but with an insanely funny twist. Footnotes are belly-laugh material.

  144. 144.  139 Knowing nothing about HS sports in your area nor in Texas personally, I’d still guess that the inordinate interest in Texas HS football tops all. (I agree with your point of view, but would add college recruiters to the list.)

  145. 145.  142

    I’m sure Josh would appreciate 3 run jacks just as much though.

  146. 146.  That is the 14th GIDP Cleveland has induced in the playoffs. This is their eighth game.

  147. 147.  143 Thanks, I’ll have to check those out. Septimus Heap is aimed at a younger audience, and doesn’t have the wittiness that keeps an older reader entertained.

  148. 148.  145 : The Red Sox haven’t strung together a bunch of hits in a long time. Last night all they got was a two-run homer and on Saturday I think they scored their last runs on a Manny homer and a Lowell homer. How about a nice bullpen-ravaging mutihit rally, boys. I mean, that’s what I’d say if I wasn’t compiling my winter reading list, straightening my underwear drawer, and catching up on my correspondences.

  149. 149.  Kenny Lofton hasn’t aged one bit: [ http://tinyurl.com/26wlxk ] – [ http://tinyurl.com/2zrqkk ] him & ToyCannon have apparently found the fountain of youth.

  150. 150.  Are we destined for a WS with the potential for multiple snow-outs?

  151. 151.  Re the earlier talk about knuckleballers, I’ve always disliked them. Pitching is such a huge percentage of the game and a good pitcher can really dominate, but a knuckleballer is, more or less, chucking it there and leaving it random chance as represented by the exact air currents at that moment acting on the non-spinning ball. Yuck.

    That said, I can understand a knuckleballer as a 5th (spot) starter / long man, esp. in the AL where you don’t have to PH for him and he can be his own long man and take his own pounding for the team and save the ‘pen.

  152. 152.  So I guess Beckett pitches tomorrow then?

  153. 153.  OK, assuming the bats stay dead tonight, here’s the plan: Beckett gets us back to Fenway, Schilling and all hands on deck scrape out a victory in game 6, and Francona diverges wildly from his M.O. in game 7 by benching Coco for Ellsbury and Dice-K for Lester and J.D. Drew drives in 10 runs and Gagne gets the save and Lugo saves the game with a spectacular catch and I am awarded the Nobel Prize and gain the ability to fly and turn invisible and (etc.).

    But seriously, Beckett, just get us back to Fenway at least.

  154. 154.  How can you even root for coming back from 3-1 again? You’re seriously tempting fate, since the Sox not only already did it, they did it against the hated Yankees. It’s like you’re just asking for Fate to wipe out the Sox with a plague and have 50 straight losing seasons.

  155. 155.  Multiple snow-outs in the World Series would serve Bud Selig right.

  156. 156.  Oh excuse me, it was 3-0 versus the Yankees. The point still stands.

  157. 157.  156 and then one game later it was 3-1, right either way 🙂

  158. 158.  Betancourt for the two-inning non-save. Could be a good move not to let the Sox get too many looks at Borowski.

  159. 159.  If Drew gets on, does Ellsbury pinch hit for Coco?

    I can’t believe Betancourt is still pitching, though he did only throw 6 or 7 pitches in the 8th, and at the start at least, it wasn’t a “save” situation.

  160. 160.  Wow. 15 pitches for Betancourt to dispatch the Sox’s 2-6 hitters. Wow.

  161. 161.  Betancourt for series MVP so far, I’d say.

    Just get us back to Boston, Beckett. I don’t want the season to end.

  162. 162.  For the kidlit fans, try the Artemis Fowl books. They’re funny, they’re not too childish for adults, and there are at least five so far with more to come.

    Artemis is a 10-year-old master thief when the series begins. What kid wouldn’t want to be that?

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