The most enjoyable part of this game was David Ortiz tossing water and ice at A.J. Pierzynski when the White Sox backstop drifted towards the opposing dugout to glove Adrian Beltre’s pop foul in the second inning. Coming in second place was Ozzie Guillen teasing Ortiz on the designated hitter’s failed bunt attempt in the same frame by pretending he was furiously propelling a wheelchair.
Instead of the game I turned to WGBH to watch the bottom half of Ken Burns’s “Tenth Inning.” The increasingly apparent use of steroids was discussed, replete with Bob Costas patting himself on the back for being the bellwether amongst the media in exposing the scandal. But we all dug the longball. Fans ignored the progressively more grotesque physiques of the players and focused instead on the gargantuan home runs leaping off the bats of the Mark McGwires, the Sammy Sosas, the Barry Bondses of the world.
Burns also turned a loving look back to 2003 and 2004. I was shocked that I could still be angered by the sight of Grady Little trotting out to the mound to visit Pedro Martinez. Even if Martinez said, “If you take me out of the game right now I will murder you in the clubhouse,” Little should have come back with Martinez in tow and Mike Timlin should have been toeing the rubber. I actually argued with a friend about Pedro’s intentions when he said he could get more outs.
Seven years later! Whose emotions would run high about a game that happened that long ago? Red Sox fans, of course.
The horror of 2003 made the intensity of 2004 all the more exquisite in both agony and ecstasy. There cannot be dark without light, death without life, and 2003 without 2004. All the words in all of humankind’s languages living and extinct have been exhausted in the telling of this tale, and I will never tire of it.
I was surprised that Mike Barnicle and Doris Kearns Goodwin were selected to speak for Red Sox fans. Listening to their recollections was well and good, but I wonder if Tony Massarotti minds Barnicle borrowing Massarotti’s kids for his stories. Instead, my feelings were most stirred by the “thank you, Red Sox” chant at the original Busch Stadium and the sight of three million people lining the streets of Boston.
Burns’s New England-centric tendencies were apparent as the White Sox breaking their 88-year drought was but a footnote in the show. Perhaps it wasn’t provincialism but rather a disdain for the franchise because of the Black Sox scandal of 1919. Whatever the case, when the next team comes back after going down 0-3 against its most hated rival, certainly Burns or one of his ilk will compile an “Eleventh Inning.” This one goes to eleven.
|Game 158: September 29, 2010|
|2||L: Josh Beckett (6-6)|
|2B: Marco Scutaro (37)|
HR: Mike Lowell (5)
|5||W: Freddy Garcia (12-6)|
H: J.J. Putz (14)
S: Matt Thornton (8)
|HR: A.J. Pierzynski (9)|