The great cabal of national television networks that broadcast baseball across the airwaves and coaxial cables have conspired over the past few days to cram Red Sox games down our collective throat. And you know what? I feel fine. Here's the list:
Saturday: Cardinals at Red Sox (FOX)
Sunday: Cardinals at Red Sox (TBS)
Monday: Diamondbacks at Red Sox (ESPN)
Wednesday: Diamondbacks at Red Sox (ESPN)
Hey, even as a Yankee fan, I think this is a good thing. Every Red Sox game, home or away, is guaranteed to be a near sell-out, and interleague games heighten the uniqueness of the matchup. Add in the fact that both of the NL teams are playoff contenders and you've got the recipe for fan interest. Sorry Indians fans, sorry Astros fans, and sorry to fans of every other team working their way out of playoff contention: you'll have to follow your team in some other manner.
Do you feel tired by the incessant praise given to the Red Sox? So do I, but that's why I've stopped watching SportsCenter on a regular basis. Still, the team is so well-assembled and it performs on such a high level that it's almost impossible not to give them their due respect. And if you hate the team so much, why wouldn't you want to watch to see them possibly lose?
Last night was the first chance I got to sit down and watch the entirety of one of these contests, and boy was I rewarded. Pitchers Dan Haren and Josh Beckett went head-to-head in one of the more memorable pitching matchups of the year. Haren has been absolutely sick in June, winning five games with an ERA under 2.00; last night he threw 98 pitches over seven brutal but scoreless innings. For a game that was scoreless for six innings, every single at-bat put the weight of the world on Haren's shoulders.
Still, the facedown of the night came when Tony Pena faced Manny Ramirez with two on and two out; Ramirez lined a rocket towards left field but third baseman Mark Reynolds had his glove in the right place to make a great catch. Former Boston pitcher Brandon Lyon put the Sox down 1-2-3 in the ninth for his 15th straight converted save.
So take your chance tomorrow night and tune into ESPN to see oldsters Randy Johnson and Tim Wakefield face off. If Steve Phillips is doing the color commentary, though, I wouldn't blame you for putting the TV on mute.