Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

I will catch your fall

Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/ and used with permission.

Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/ and used with permission.

There’s this rather disturbing practice that they’ve started at Fenway Park this year. Before the game begins, they show you evacuation routes out of Fenway in case of emergency. Now, generally speaking, this isn’t disturbing. As I go into most buildings, I look around for the exits and make sure I have an idea of where I am and how I’d get out if need be. But this is new to Fenway which gives it a creepy “something’s probably going to happen and we just want to cover our asses” feel whenever I see it. Prior to the trade deadline, I joked that folks out right field way were, essentially, screwed and if I was going anywhere during an emergency it would be toward the field, not toward the exits, because there would be less people. Plus, I could make my way to Justin Masterson in the bullpen and be saved with him given his connections to the Lord.

But Justin isn’t around to save me any more so I can’t use him as a buffer between the Almighty and myself. (And while some of what I say is in jest, I’ll say this seriously – I got to see Justin in action, this year, speaking at a church and where some of our beliefs might be different, I have a lot of respect for his passion and his talent for preaching. There’s no doubt in my mind that when he has to leave baseball he’ll find a successful and rewarding life with his church and for that I’m both impressed and a little jealous.)

My salvation lies with me and how strongly I believe. I pride myself on being a believer. In my faith, in my family and friends and in the damn baseball team I follow so closely. But they’re testing me, as they often do. Two straight losses…not just losses but ass kickings…to the Kansas City Royals? I’m not usually one to say “WTF” when it comes to a loss…a loss is just that and they’ll happen, right? Every team in MLB is manned with professionals so they’re all going to win a game or two against the Sox. But after Tuesday night’s loss “WTF” came out of my mouth a lot. (I’m not proud.)

The Red Sox had a solid chance of making up a lot of ground this week and two losses to the Royals dented those chances. So I had a few moments of self-indulgence where I cursed Tito for his managerial decisions and I cursed Theo for his general managerial decisions and I contemplated making Manny Delcarmen and Paul Byrd voodoo dolls. And then, last night, the strangest thing happened:

They won.

Josh Beckett came in and looked, well let’s be honest, he didn’t look great. Through four innings he gave up ten hits and a walk (including a five-hit fourth inning!). On the other hand, through those same four innings he only gave up two runs. He went on to pitch two more innings and give up two more hits and ended the night striking out seven on 103 pitches. He pitched well enough to win…which is all I wanted. Thankfully, his offense helped out as well with 12 of their own hits and nine runs (including a six-run fifth inning!). Pitching, though, is what makes me pace the floors, so seeing Okajima, Wagner and Papelbon come in and pitch three scoreless, hitless innings (both Okajima and Wagner walked one and all three had a strike out) was enough to restore my faith which had slightly faltered.

Justin Masterson pitched last night for the Cleveland Indians. In four innings he gave up seven hits, eight runs (six earned), walked three, struck out four and gave up two home runs. His record is 4-9 and his ERA is 4.79. Justin’s record as a starter is 1-6 and he’s lost five of his past six starts. The last time he won a game was on August 20. It’s fair to say he’s been struggling since he left Boston and it makes me wonder how his faith is holding up. I have a feeling it’s still strong and that he’ll bounce back. The team he’s on just lost their 10th game in a row and here I sat cranky because the Red Sox lost two in a row. As in ‘real’ life, it could always be worse. I could be an Indians fan. Here’s hoping Justin gets it together. Not for the Indians but for himself. He’s a good guy, he’s certainly inspirational and I think he deserves it.   (I also think sometimes Mr. Epstein knows what he’s doing.)

Clay Buchholz is on the mound tonight for the final game in the series and I have faith that he’ll perform well. I might have lapses every so often but, all in all, the faith is always there. Sometimes it just hides.


September 24, 2009 - Posted by | 2009 | , ,


  1. Sigh. Yes, the two losses were hard to take, but I found solace in the fact that we will, most likely, secure the Wild Card spot soon. In the postseason, everyone begins again at 0, and I’m glad we’re almost certain of being there.

    Now to address the next subject:
    I loved reading Justin Masterson’s blog and definitely admired his strength and faith (even though I don’t have any, in the religious sense anyway). I harbor a secret wish that he will return to the Red Sox again some day, ala Alex Gonzalez. I think his record will improve. I also think it’s tough pitching for a last place team and not getting a ton of run support. I certainly wish him luck wherever he goes.

    Comment by Kfish | September 24, 2009 | Reply

  2. I’m with you, kfish. I, too, harbor a wish that Justin Masterson will find his way back into a Red Sox uniform down the road. He’s good people, and he has a great makeup–physical and mental–for a pitcher. He needs a functional changeup, something to mess with lefty hitters (who presently get way too good a look at his delivery and tend to tee off) and a little better overall command; if/when he gets that into his toolkit, he’ll be an extremely effective MLB pitcher, as he’s got a ferocious sinker and the man is friggin’ ten feet tall with a wingspan like a teradactyl–striking terror into the hearts of righties everywhere 🙂 But anyhow, I enjoyed him so much, and he seemed so wonderfully at home in the Sox pen, and so good for his teammates. One of those people who doesn’t just call himself a Christian, but seems to live his faith, with a loving and positive spirit. I wish him all the best, and hope the complicated winds of MLB land him some day back home in the Fens with the proper uniform on 🙂

    Comment by Elaine Apthorp | September 24, 2009 | Reply

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