Wednesday, July 27, 2005

First Things First

First things first. I hope Matt Clement is OK. He took a line drive off the noggin in the third inning and had to be taken out on a stretcher. That said, something as serious as a head injury is no excuse for super-crappy umpiring. After every game I wonder, "can the calls in the next game get substantially worse than what I just witnessed?" The answer is unequivocally, "yes." And I'm writing this without even knowing the final score of the Sox - Devil Rays game (as it stands, it's the 5th inning, tied 5-5).

[Update: Two things. It looks like Clement will be OK, and the Red Sox won, so maybe I can lighten up on the whining.]

And I'm not one to usually blame losses on the umpiring crew, but tonight's effort was particularly egregious. Maybe it was the sub par lighting in Tropicana Field (By the way, why in the hell are they playing indoors in Florida? And if the answers are either (a) heat, or (b) rain, then I have a suggestion: move the team.), or maybe the umpires were collectively stuffed from the all-you-can-eat seafood buffets that are so popular in the Tampa/St. Pete area. Whatever the case, all I know is that the first base umpire missed two calls on close plays, the second base umpire blew a similar call in the first inning, and the home plate umpire was obviously high, drunk, an idiot, awful at his job, or some combination of all four. (Is it obvious that I'm a little grumpy? Just wait, it gets worse).

Adding injury to insult is the fact that Trot Nixon looked like he pulled a muscle in his side while swinging and missing a pitch in the third inning, and had to leave the game. That was followed a half-inning later by Clement getting drilled. When you see something like that, it becomes immediately clear (or at least it should) that baseball is, well, a game. And it doesn't really matter how well or poorly your team is doing when someone's livelihood is literally hanging in the balance. Clement has arguably been the best pitcher on the staff in 2005 and if it takes the Red Sox losing every game from here on out to ensure he's makes a healthy return, that's a trade I'm willing to make. (I'm also willing to trade Millar if that will also bring Clement back to full health, but I digress).

Back to the game (this segue is about as smooth as watching Millar leg out a triple, but like Millar, I'm doing the best with what I got), I have a question: why is Mirabelli ever DH-ing for Ortiz? I can understand if Mirabelli has had past success against a certain left handed pitcher (and that was the case last night), but after Hendrickson was removed for a right-hander, why keep Mirabelli in the game with Ortiz sitting on the bench (you know, like if there are two men on base in a tie game in the sixth inning)? If the reason is because removing Mirabelli from the game would mean that the Sox wouldn't have an available catcher if Varitek got hurt, my response is this: start Papi at DH. The plan's so simple even Francona can follow its logic (or at least he can have Brad Mills or Dave Wallace draw him a picture). Geez, I'm not asking Tito to perform brain surgery, just to occasionally make a seemingly rational decision. Just once. End diatribe.