• HaroldHecuba: Mike Mussina is EASTERN EUROPEAN, not Italian....

The day I left for vacation, the Red Sox had been roughed up a bit but were still in contention (just a half game out of first) and I was optimistic enough to write this, which was published shortly thereafter. I was sad, of course, that I’d be missing the five-game super-series against the Yankees, but there was little I could do about it. I was nervous for my Sox. A certain friend confidently predicted the Sox would take three out of five. I believe I said something along the lines of, “Well it’s five games so at least you can be sure they won’t get swept.”

But I see I underestimated them. After all, they’ve been causing misery for 86 of 87 years, and I was wrong to doubt their ability to continue to do so.

The sitting wounded

In the end I was glad that I had an ocean between me and Fenway that weekend, if only so I wouldn’t be subjected to the gloating of the New York papers. (This did not stop me from imagining what they were sure to be writing, though. The Times: “Hapless Boston Unable to Thwart New York’s Soaring Aria.” The Daily News: “Sweep Taste of Success!” And the Post: ”Who’s Choking Now??” with a “Red SUX!” thrown in for good measure.) I got home and couldn’t recognize the team I’d left behind. And not just because they were playing so crappily. Because I literally couldn’t recognize them. Half the lineup is call-ups. Who’s on first, I Don’t Know is third base, and the outfield is all Whatsisnames. And the pitching rotation? More like a pitching rotisserie (stick a fork in ‘em). They played a game the other night with just one bench player. One bench player! Everyone seems to be injured, whether with bizarre finger cuts (not a blister!), the flu, knees, wrists, hammies, quads, shoulders, backs, ribs, biceps, ankles, obliques. Even the manager is literally spitting blood.

Now David Ortiz is undergoing more tests for an irregular heartbeat. It’s not sad or frustrating, it’s downright scary—In Boston, it’s impossible to hear that without thinking of Reggie Lewis. (Same deal when Tedy Bruschi returned last year from a stroke. Sort of how any time anyone gets hit in the head by a ball we all immediately think of Tony C.) The news about Ortiz completely eclipsed the actual play on the field last night, as the entire Northeast suddenly remembered that while baseball in August might sometimes feel like a matter of life and death, it isn’t. I don’t think Mike Timlin is the only one praying for Papi right now.

At least the Patriots’ season starts in 12 days. And until then, I have vodka.

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