My life…it’s better left to chance

Kelly O'Connor took this photo at the Lowell Spinner's Alumni Dinner this past January  (Used with permission)

Kelly O'Connor took this photo of Greg Montalbano at the Lowell Spinner's Alumni Dinner this past January (Used with permission)

There was something strange about walking around Fenway before the game yesterday.  The Yankees fans were there but none seemed overly cocky or obnoxious.  Sox fans were there too and most seemed to be pretty subdued for a Saturday afternoon Sox/Yanks game.  There was a definite weird vibe around the park.  I actually put off going to my seat until the last possible minute I could (while still avoiding the crush of people who try to get to their seats five minutes before the game begins) because I didn’t have a good feeling about the game.  I wasn’t convinced that Tazawa would fail but I was concerned he’d struggle.  As I wrote yesterday, I really wanted this win.

Then we were hit in the face with cruel realities that will always be more important than a baseball game.  Red Sox public address announce Carl Beane asked for a moment of silence to honor Greg Montalbano who had died the night before.  I probably Google Greg’s name once a week to see if there is any news on him.  His story was sad and compelling and inspirational all at the same time and to find out that he passed away is truly heartbreaking.  I started crying right there in Fenway, so much so that the guy next to me asked if I knew him and KellyO immediately texted me because she also hadn’t heard of his passing until Carl Beane told us.  Greg and his family have been and will be in my prayers.  The next time you want to paint all ball players with the same, broad brush of being nothing but entitled, rich, spoiled babies, please think of Greg Montalbano and remember that not all of them are like that nor do they all have the support, publicity and good fortune of, say, a Jon Lester.  (A bittersweet postscript to this story:  Both Kevin Youkilis and Carlos Pena were friends of Greg’s…and both men dedicated their games to him yesterday – and both men hit two home runs a piece in their respective games to help their teams win on Saturday.)

But the Red Sox wouldn’t let me dwell on my sadness over Greg’s passing…they came out swinging in the first with three singles and a double, scoring three runs – and they never let up.  On a day when the game was being televised nationally and Red Sox fans were preparing to listen to the Fox announcers talk about how Boston’s season was finished and Friday’s thrashing was proof that the Yankees held total dominance over the Sox it was important to the fans that the Sox didn’t get humiliated on national television.  The Sox probably felt like they had something to prove, not just to the fans but to the sports writers and the Yankees as well.  They didn’t come out timidly and worried about what might happen again  – they just made A.J. Burnett look ineffective against them…and it was pretty sweet.

Two home runs for Youk (I was rocking the Youk jersey yesterday which was cause for people to randomly slap me on the back whenever he got a hit), one for Papi and even Alex Gonzalez got into the act with one of his own.  Jacoby and Tek were the only starters without a hit but among the rest they garnered 15 hits altogether.  Tazawa pitched like he had totally forgotten about the 15th inning, walk-off home run at Yankee Stadium and hadn’t listened to any of the critics who had already written off Saturday’s game.  The team came together and got the job done.  Thank you, Red Sox.  It was a great game to be at and a wonderful tribute to Greg as well.

Still not convinced that the Boston sports media would rather focus on the negative?  Beginning of the fourth inning, Sox have scored 7 runs, Tazawa has given up 3 hits in the first 3 innings (one hit in each inning) and no runs and this is what Joe Haggerty tweets:

Last 2 inning with leads, Tazawa has fallen behind 3-1 to both leadoff hitters. Not what you’re looking for

Pardon my language but, is he shitting me?   How do you pull something like that out of your ass in the middle of a game like we were watching?  How is this not purposely looking for something negative to write about?  In the FOURTH inning when the kid has only given up 3 hits and no runs you’re complaining that he fell behind the last two leadoff hitters?  In the second inning, the leadoff hitter he fell behind (Posada) walked and got stranded at third.  In the third inning the leadoff hitter he fell behind was Jeter and he grounded out.  In the fourth inning, Matsui popped out on a 1-1 count, in the fifth inning Jeter flied out after Tazawa fell behind and in the sixth inning Posada popped out on a 1-0 count.  In the six innings Tazawa pitched, the only leadoff hitter to reach base was Posada in the second inning.  Yes, this is pretty much exactly what I’d like to see in a rookie pitcher (hell in ANY pitcher) thank you.

So we get a rubber game tonight on ESPN.  Beckett v Sabathia.  Given that Beckett’s last outing was poor I’m willing to believe that he won’t be struggling tonight.  After two blow-out games, I imagine it isn’t so crazy to think we’re going to get a pitching duel tonight.

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