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Angels-Red Sox Game 1 ALDS thread

October 1, 2008
 Untitled 
“October is always a great time for me.” – Jack Kerouac, Desolation Angels.

Last year, the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, the Red Sox traveled a distinctly Kerouackian path to their second World Series title in four years. Leave it to a blog devoted to poetry to point out many of the echoes of Kerouac sounded by the Red Sox’ 2007 victory, including not only that the Red Sox clinched the series “on the road” but that they did it in Denver, hometown of primary Kerouac muse Neal Cassady, and that they were led by their third baseman, the World Series MVP, whose last name happens to be the same, Lowell, as the Massachusetts town where Kerouac was born and raised. The famous traveler’s first trip out of Lowell may well have been the time, in 1933, when his father took him to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play.

That reported Fenway voyage aside, I had to dig around a little to convince myself that Kerouac was a Red Sox fan. I knew that he loved baseball, that baseball was something he carried close to his heart longer than he carried just about anything else—in fact he literally carried baseball with him in his rucksack, the hand-made cards of the Strat-O-Matic-like fantasy game he invented as a kid jammed in his traveling rucksack among his manuscripts and socks and cross-country stack of baloney sandwiches and, more and more as the year’s went on, his cheap rotgut wine—but I distrusted claims made in various places that he was a Red Sox fan because in all the words I’d read by him I’d never seen one specific mention of an allegiance to the Red Sox. My working theory was that he never built a strong childhood bond to the team because there were two Boston teams during his childhood, and the Braves were generally a little better in those years (late 1920s to early 1930s) than the profoundly putrid Red Sox squads of that era. It’s hard for a kid to get a handhold on a team that is, year in and year out, a hapless, featureless, unexciting blob, especially if that kid will grow up to write “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’” Suffice to say that the Red Sox of the 1920s and 1930s didn’t boast a lot of guys like that. But there does seem to be corroboration that in later years Kerouac was indeed a Red Sox fan—and a Ted Williams fan in particular—so even though there is no written evidence of it he may well have been able as a child to see unappreciated luminescence in the likes of long-forgotten 100-loss mainstays such as Rabbit Warstler and Danny MacFayden. I have decided to believe this to be true. Roman candles aside, Kerouac always had an eye for the pale nobody in the corner who everyone else ignored.

An instance of Kerouac noticing holiness in the margins provides the opening to Dharma Bums, his prayerful, less frenetic follow-up to On the Road. “Hopping a freight out of Los Angeles,” Kerouac begins, “at high noon one day in late September 1955 I got on a gondola and lay down with my duffel bag under my head and my knees crossed and contemplated the clouds as we rolled north to Santa Barbara.” Soon he is joined by another rider of the rails, “a thin old little bum” who “spoke from far away inside a little meek voice-box afraid or unwilling to assert himself.” The bum, used to being ignored, is drawn out by the novel’s Kerouac stand-in, Ray Smith, and eventually shares the words on a small slip of paper he carries with him everywhere, which affirm that St. Theresa will one day shower all living creatures with roses from heaven.

Los Angeles, receding into the distance as the late September train flew north, into the fall, never looked so kind.

To get to the World Series last October, as in October 2004, the Boston Red Sox had to first pass through Los Angeles, something that Jack Kerouac always seemed to be doing on his way to somewhere else. This year, the October road for the Red Sox once again either ends or goes through Los Angeles. To get to heaven, you’ve got to climb over some Angels.

*    *    *

And if that literary malarkey doesn’t suit you, here are some baseball thoughts as my heart starts to pound:

According to the Boston Globe, the Bosox postseason roster is official. J[ack] D[uluoz] Drew is in, as is third baseman Mike Hometown-of-Jack-Kerouac.

Most people are leaning toward the Angels in this one. They whupped the Red Sox in the season series. They’ve got the pronounced edge in the bullpen, often a decider in the playoffs. They’ve bolstered their lineup with the midseason acquisition of the all-star slugger whose name is always mispronounced by my friend Ramblin’ Pete as if it were a special form a diarrhea contracted in Texas. Also, after ’86 and ’04 and ’07, they’re due. That’s the general thinking, I think, along with doubts cast on the banged-up Red Sox, who count among their limping the two roster members mentioned above as well as their big game ace, Josh Beckett, who has an oblique injury, and Big Papi, who hasn’t been quite right all year. And then there’s the glaring absence in the middle of their lineup. It’s October, and one of the first things I did today was turn my Red Sox calendar to its new page. Who should be standing there, bat cocked, in position to mangle the next pitch, but my old friend Manny Ramirez. I miss him. I wish things hadn’t gone sour this year between the team and him, and I really wish he didn’t shove a 60-something-year-old Red Sox employee to the ground, but what can I say, he gave me a lot of enjoyment, more than any other Red Sox player ever has, and I miss him. The Red Sox may find they miss him, too, or at least miss his batting skills, which have been equaled by very few in the history of the game.

But that sadness about Manny aside, I like this year’s team a lot. They had a lot of injury problems this year and they still found a way to make it to October alive. With their speed and deep rotation and good bench and strong defense, they have for most of the year been the most balanced Red Sox team I’ve ever had the pleasure of rooting for. The bench and rotation have been weakened by injuries, but who knows, maybe in a short series these weakened areas won’t hurt them. Anyway, it’s not like they’re going to Los Angeles empty-handed. They’ve certainly at least got, like Kerouac’s thin little dharma bum, a prayer.

Red Sox at Angels, 7:05 PT, 10:05 ET

Lineups courtesy of The Boston Globe:

Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
J.D. Drew, RF
Jason Bay, LF
Mike Lowell, 3B
Jed Lowrie, SS
Jason Varitek, C 

SP: Jon Lester

Angels
Chone Figgins, 3B
Garret Anderson, LF
Mark Texeira, 1B
Vladimir Guerrero, DH
Torii Hunter, CF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Mike Napoli, C
Gary Matthews Jr., RF
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: John Lackey

TBS has a four-camera video feed of the divisional games online.

99 comments

  1. 1.  It was amazing to watch Lester get better and better as the year went on. This might be the weakest RedSox team in the playoffs that I’ve seen for a while. Ortiz, Drew, and Lowell hurting, along with Lowrie and Varitek sucking does not bode well without Manny to pick up the slack. Vlady and the Vowell will do some damage this year.


  2. 2.  1 : You’re probably right, and the poor health of those guys you mention could certainly mean the Angels make quick work of them. I’m trying to focus on the positive: Ellsbury’s late-season resurgence, Pedroia and Youkilis blossoming into MVP caliber players, the Red Sox’ 95 wins in the beastly AL East being as worthy as the Angels’ 100 wins in the worstly AL West. Also, there is their pythagorean records:

    Angels: 88-74
    Red Sox: 95-67

    Still, I worry a lot about the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings.


  3. 3.  No offense, Josh, but for a Yankee fan this has to be the most hateful series imaginable. I feel the same way I did about the 1975 World Series: I actively root for both sides to lose.

    I suppose that’s fitting for this site, though, because the only possible outcome is disappointment.


  4. 4.  “That ball is playable to right… Oh, it’s off the wall!”

    A reverse Charlie Steiner/Michael Kay by Chip Caray.


  5. 5.  3 : The Red Sox I get, but why the hate by a Yankees fan for the Angels?


  6. 6.  The Angels are the only AL team with a winning record against the Yankees since the 1996 Renaissance I believe.

    And the Angels often beat the Yankees in annoying fashion. And they’ve beaten the Yankees in the playoffs twice and not lost to them.

    The Angels are the only team to have beaten the Yankees twice in the postseason without losing a series.

    And to compound it for Yankees fan, the Angels historically have rolled over and played dead against the Red Sox.

    This year was a bit different.


  7. 7.  Great intro, Josh.

    Did you see the 7 iron Manny hammered to put away the Dodgers game? Holy cow.


  8. 8.  Chip Caray is a poor professional baseball announcer.


  9. 9.  I would like Vlad to take a pitch once in a while.


  10. 10.  Just Vladdy being Vladdy


  11. 11.  6 : That explains it. Now I’m wondering who a Yankee fan might be rooting for in these playoffs. Torre, maybe? That’s a tough one, I’d think, because then they’re also rooting for Manny.


  12. 12.  Well, that worked out well.


  13. 13.  11 My neighbor is Massachusetts was a huge Celtics fan. When asked who he favored in a Pistons-Lakers final, he used to say he rooted for the roof to fall in.


  14. 14.  What would I possibly want Ernie Johnson’s opinion on?


  15. 15.  14
    Chemotherapy treatments?


  16. 16.  Craig Sager, never letting us down. Nice coat.


  17. 17.  11 Yeah, what 6 said. I’ve hated their gritty, spunky, productive-outs style, much beloved by broadcasters, since it was Eckstein and Erstad. I particularly hate it because they routinely thrash the Yankees, beat them in every possible way, all of them extremely annoying. Garrett Anderson used to destroy them. Chone Figgins goes wild. The Yankees are completely helpless.


  18. 18.  11 I like Torre…but, after that rant, I have to admit that the Dodgers are probably the franchise I dislike the most.

    To the extent that I’m rooting for anyone, I’d say it’s the Non-Satanic Rays.


  19. 19.  18 The funny thing is the Dodger Thoughts folks call them the Dodger Rays, because of our fondness for their former Dodger farm hands.


  20. 20.  18
    See, that’s some old school hatred. I appreciate that.


  21. 21.  Josh,
    Did you read the “National Pastime” (SABR journal) article about Kerouac’s fantasy baseball game?


  22. 22.  Seriously, this is the best TBS can do? The rest of the coverage is fine. Caray is putrid.


  23. 23.  20 Yep. Those 70’s Dodger teams, combined with the “Boys of Summer” bushwa, did it for me.


  24. 24.  22
    This is the “A” team.


  25. 25.  24 I thought Darling/Stockton/Gwynn was much better


  26. 26.  21 I saw that, Bob. Really enjoyed it. I had always wondered about historical origins of tabletop ball, ever since reading the J. Henry Waugh book. I have wondered if Coover knew about Kerouac’s book, and perhaps that helped inspire him.


  27. 27.  18 : But didn’t the Rays brawl with the Yankees this year? I kinda hate those punks already.

    21 : I’ve read about his game, and even seen some of the cards (and fake newspaper writeups he created) at a great exhibit at the New York Public Library a while ago. But I don’t think I ever saw that SABR article.


  28. 28.  The Vowel had almost as big an impact for the Angels as Manny did for the Dodgers. I guess the big difference was that the Angels weren’t in a pennant race.

    My favorite thing about the Angels is how they thrash the Yankee’s. I like a Yankee fan who hates the Dodgers, brings back memories of 77-81.


  29. 29.  Bad Vlad scares the living jeebus out of me.


  30. 30.  27
    Josh, shoot me your address via e-mail and I’ll send you a copy.


  31. 31.  30 : Awesome. Thanks, Bob.


  32. 32.  Well, that run was pretty Angelly. Full of hustle and scrap and rolling around in the dirt.


  33. 33.  Is the other announcer also a Rockies’ announcer? He sounds familiar, from listening to games on MLB audio.

    16 Yah, Sager’s coat nearly matched the stadium wall, so that he looked like a disembodied head with a microphone.


  34. 34.  Plus the Rays left Edwin Jackson off their ALDS roster, which makes me root for them less.


  35. 35.  This is not working out as planned.


  36. 36.  33 You mean Buck Martinez, the Commander in Chief? He managed the US in the World Baseball Classic, and used to do a show on the XM Baseball Channel.


  37. 37.  Is Lackey less physically repulsive than usual tonight or do we just have less facial closeups?


  38. 38.  37 – My wife purposely avoids looking at the screen when he’s on the mound. The poor guy just looks horrible. Then the sweat starts coming and it gets worse somehow.

    Good thing he’s an incredible pitcher.


  39. 39.  36 – Ah, that’s Buck. Of course. Okay, he just sounded like another TV analyst for a second.

    Not surprisingly, this is a nice pitcher’s duel so far.


  40. 40.  38 YES always zooms in while I’m eating. Its no fun


  41. 41.  36 : Martinez still does (most of the time) cohost the morning show on XM’s baseball channel. He always sounds barely awake to me.


  42. 42.  Lackey should be sweating up a storm tonight. It’s pretty warm out here.

    By the time the Dodgers get home on Saturday, the high should be 68. But it was over 100 today.


  43. 43.  41 Thanks.

    I gave up my XM-not because I didn’t like the programming, just because it was such a pain to get a signal.


  44. 44.  Why do we only have to save energy during Game Four?


  45. 45.  Hit by Carl Pavano? Really? He played this year?


  46. 46.  Nice shot of Scott Boras behind the plate.


  47. 47.  46 Sitting on a bag of money?


  48. 48.  Is “Leverage” this year’s “Skin”?


  49. 49.  His father is the district attorney!


  50. 50.  49 Good one.

    “Appaloosa” was a terrific book. It was written by Robert B. Parker, who wrote the Spenser novels.


  51. 51.  The “ever dangerous” JD Drew? To what? Red Sox health insurance premiums?


  52. 52.  THERE WE GO!


  53. 53.  O Canada!


  54. 54.  Bay being Bay!


  55. 55.  Apparently teasing JD Drew angers Mr. Bay.


  56. 56.  A Jeter-free October? Not if Madison Avenue has anything to say about it.


  57. 57.  Gutty job by Lester tonight. He’s up to 100 pitches already though. The bullpen’s gonna come into play.


  58. 58.  I gotta turn in-work comes early tomorrow. ‘Night, toasterers.


  59. 59.  Gary Matthews Jr. turned into Jack Cust on that play.


  60. 60.  59 The A’s broadcast team insists Cust got better in the field as the season went on.

    The A’s broadcast team, it should be noted, draws it salary from the A’s.


  61. 61.  I always enjoy it when the play-by-play man says a departing pitcher “made just one mistake.” It sounds like we’re in the middle of a spy novel.

    “You made just one mistake, Lackey. You matched wits with a Canadian when death was on the line.”


  62. 62.  57 There are no pitch counts in October, friend.


  63. 63.  We’ll ask Mr. Sabathia about a pitch count tomorrow.


  64. 64.  63 I’m sure the Brewers’ thinking is, “Did his arm just come flying off? Maybe just a couple more batters then.”


  65. 65.  He might be through for the night. Getting handshakes in the dugout.


  66. 66.  But with an off day tomorrow, do the Red Sox even need to bother with a setup guy for Papelbon?


  67. 67.  My guess is they’ll go with Okajima against Texeira, then maybe bring in Papelbon.


  68. 68.  Umm…. Mr. Guerrero…

    That was not a good idea.


  69. 69.  Nobody ever seems to mention hustling Angel baseball when they run themselves out of a rally, do they?

    For all his skills, Vladdy runs like a 60-year-old man with a bad back.


  70. 70.  Any more baserunning blunders like that and Vlady will find his locker moved next to the trash can.


  71. 71.  Anymore baserunning blunders like that and Bill Plaschke will demand you be traded for David Eckstein.


  72. 72.  Lackey slams his glove against the Angels bench when he’s yanked, and Vlad slams his helmet on the bench when he’s thrown out in the 8th.

    Obviously, the goat in this game is the Angels’ bench.


  73. 73.  David Ecsktein was just what the DBacks needed to get them over the hump.


  74. 74.  71 Bad Vlad? More like bad, Vlad.

    The Angels colors may be blood red. But I say they need a heart transplant.

    A little heart.

    From a little Eckstein.

    I could do this all night.


  75. 75.  Cue the predictable Bill Simmons column tomorrow ripping the Anaheim fans.


  76. 76.  Gotta give the fans something to work with, though.

    Nobody would “rip” the Cubs fans for the tomb-like silence at Wrigley. It was just not happening on the field. And it isn’t happening here either.

    So far.


  77. 77.  Bill Simmons is not an astute baseball observer.


  78. 78.  I hate baseball


  79. 79.  I don’t think this 20-1 run that Chip Caray refers to is all that relevant since it’s against different teams in different seasons.

    Perhaps the other teams should call more timeouts!


  80. 80.  Small ball!


  81. 81.  74 Eckstein’s heart.

    In the box.

    A beating heart in a box.


  82. 82.  75 To follow up on the Boston Globe’s Shaughnessy ripping LA fans tonight. Because, you know, none of us know anything about baseball other than Manny.


  83. 83.  I shall not be able to sleep tonight knowing that I, as a Southern Californian, do not measure up to Dan Shaughnessy’s specifications.

    Nor Bill Simmons’.

    I am not worthy to live on this planet anymore.

    Excuse me. I have a pipe to go loosen on my gas stove.


  84. 84.  Jonathan Papelbon is a creepy looking guy.

    He has a future portraying serial killers on TV.


  85. 85.  So, which Toaster blog gets to do the Rays/Sox game thread?


  86. 86.  84 : I always thought he kind of looked like he could be John Lithgow’s estranged hotheaded offspring.


  87. 87.  83 You don’t want to know what Jay Marrioti’s been saying about you.

    It so offended me, I didn’t even bother to drop any spare change into his hat this morning.


  88. 88.  85
    I think Bad Altitude will be handling it.


  89. 89.  The inevitable Dodgers/Red Sox World Series draws nearer…


  90. 90.  Chip Caray has abused the word “ironically” once too many times.

    I’m driving down to Anaheim to take care of this issue.

    I’ll put the stove back together.


  91. 91.  In honor of the Canadian in our outfield, here, as after a hockey game, are the three stars of the game:

    Third star: Ellsbury
    Second star: Lester
    First star: Bay, eh?


  92. 92.  Is it normal that no part of Jason Bay’s face moves when he talks? Its like a Conan O’Brien skit.


  93. 93.  Congrats to the Sox! Lester pitched superbly. Doesn’t get any easier for the Angels for the next game, vs DiceK but they have to find a way to win.

    Not that I would understand anything about that. I just like to bounce beach balls around at stadiums and then leave early, could care less who wins.

    Bitter, me? Nah.


  94. 94.  I only go to baseball games so I can pee in a trough.


  95. 95.  I guarantee that Dice-K will necesitate the appearance of the Red Sox soft underbelly: middle relief.


  96. 96.  92
    Is it normal that no part of Jason Bay’s face moves when he talks? Its like a Conan O’Brien skit.

    Hilarious.

    93
    Speaking of beach balls, I plan on channeling my inner-Timmermann and bringing a pen with which to pop any wayward beach balls I happen to get my hands on.


  97. 97.  92 After his big homerun, Bay looked completely expressionless — even annoyed. He makes JD Drew seem like Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the ’88 Series.

    This Red Sox team might be a good one, but it’s got the personality of a bunch of forensic accountants forced to work late.


  98. 98.  Kevin Millar would never go for mark to market accounting rules.


  99. 99.  97

    I agree… what’s up with that? The Ro-Bo Sox got it done! And in the end it’s about the W’s.

    Does that now make it 10 straight postseason wins over the Angels for Boston?



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