Return of the Manlove!

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(photo from Yahoo! Sports)

Yes, yes, yes. More of this, please. Excellent pitching combined with timely and relentless hitting make Kristen a happy girl. And don’t you want to make Kristen happy, Red Sox? Don’t you?

Carlton Fisk, despite wearing a truly horrifying shirt that Jerry Remy was forced to make fun of enjoys making Kristen happy because he was just generally awesome and fantastic and gracious during the pre-game ceremony in which the Sox officially named the left-field foul pole, “Fisk’s Pole,” in commemoration of his game-winning home run of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Plus, he looks pretty damn good for a 57-year old. Looks like he could still play, in fact. Also? The original Pudge is a New England native and a New Hampshire boy. Yes, sir, that is how we represent the Granite State, yo. Plus, we know how I love them catchers with questionable fashion sense.

The Sox themselves beat up on the Cincinnati Reds to the tune of a 10-3 win. Matty, who has re-earned the right to be called “Neptune Nuts,” pitched his little butt off, scattering six hits and three runs. But most impressive, and most important if we’re being all stathead about it, are the nine strikeouts and only one walk he issued. He made it through eight full innings on 107 pitches and I do think our little Matty is coming into his own. Naturally, those of us who have, erm, active imaginations spent a goodly amount of time talking about Matty man-crushing on Tek and have developed all kinds of theories as to why he’s pitching better this year. Say what you want about this but I think we’re right on. Was it a coincidence that when Tek was removed for the ninth inning, most likely to get some rest after a long night (more on that in a bit), Brad Mills (acting as manager as Terry was attending his daughter’s graduation) yanked Matty as well? I know he was up to 107 pitches and with the game pretty soundly in hand there was really no need to throw him out there to try to get his second complete game of the season, but I like to believe that Matty looked over, saw Dougie donning the Tools of Ignorance and his eyes got big and panicky. His head started to swivel from side to side like, well, like Orlando Cabrera, actually, and he ran over to Tek, then luxuriating on the bench.

“Mr. Varitek?” (you just know Matty refers to Tek as “Mr. Varitek.”), “Are you not going out for the ninth inning?”

“Nah,” Tek most likely said, “Dougie’s got it from here.”

“But, but, but…” Matty undoubtedly stammered, “but…I NEED you!”

Varitek, at this point, surely laid a reassuring paw on Matty’s head and gave him a fatherly hair ruffle, “No you don’t. You’ll be all right.”

I then like to imagine that Mills approached Matty, gave him a baseball-y pat on the rump and said, “Great work tonight, ole’ buddy. Mantei’ll take it from here.”

Then, obviously, Matty let out a huge sigh of relief and sat down happily next to Varitek as Mantei took care of the ninth.

See, kids? Imaginary Baseball World is fun!

Surely this is why us creative types should never get into sports. That way lies madness.

And speaking of Imaginary Baseball World…Marianne and I have further decided that from here on out, Jason Varitek is the bearer of “Tea Party Mojo.” This decision came about after hearing that Mrs. Tek gave birth to the couple’s third daughter sometime around 4:30 in the morning yesterday. Caroline Morgan, I believe is what they’ve decided to name her. I like to think that Tek petitioned his wife to name their daughter after “Sweet Caroline” in a tribute to the passion of Red Sox fandom and I will not be dissuaded from this line of thinking. (Amy, in the SGMB Game Thread made an excellent point that, “Not to be outdone, Trotter’s next [child] will be named ‘Tessie’.”)

The “Tea Party Mojo” comes into effect when we realized that really, there is nothing funnier than a large, large man being forced to sit on a Fisher Price Tea Party plastic chair and don barrettes with his three wee daughters. Like in that Friendly’s commercial. Probably Tek will be made to wear a bonnet too. That is the highest of high comedy. Also, when his daughters are old enough to date, we pity the poor buggers who show up at the Tek house, angling to take the Tekettes out. You just know Varitek, still in playing shape but with perhaps a bit of added bulk ‘round the middle will be sitting at the kitchen table scrutinizing scouting reports on the potential boyfriends. Name, age, grades, Social Security numbers, family income, tattoos or distinguishing marks, preferred brand of bath soap, pulp/no pulp stance on orange juice, and the like. Poor kids. They don’t stand a chance.

As for other childlike behavior, (we call that a “seamless segueway,” kids) is Manny Ramirez not the world’s most delightful creature on occasion? His home run last night, which, if Wily Mo Pena had been at all familiar with Fenway Park, would most likely have been a fly out, was a sight to behold. Manny, believing the ball to have been caught, was just about to turn and trot back into the dugout when he realized that Pena had lost the ball over the wall. Manny broke into a huge smile, raised his arms in a celebratory gesture and began his home run trot. And then the manlove began. For those of you without NESN, get it immediately. I don’t care what it costs. It’s worth every penny to hear Remy and Don O. go on for a half inning about the difference between “baseball hugs” and “man hugs.” This Sox team, in case you’ve been living in baseball-free Siberia for the past few years, is all about the man hugs. Especially Manny Ramirez. And it is a wonderful thing. Last night also marked the second night in a row that Manny has taken an opposing pitcher deep. This is also a welcome sight as I’d begun to worry a bit about Mr. Monkeyshines. But the return of the manlove is a promising sign. Perhaps Millar gave him another of his patented, “You play baseball for a living, you big oaf! And you get paid eleventy billion dollars to do it! Stop sulking and cowboy up, man. Yee-haw!,” verbal ass-kickings. If so, then we are again reminded why Kevin Millar is on this team. As Amy observed over 7-11 Slurpees in my rainforest-like living room “That shit-eating grin of Millar’s has gotten him out of more things…” “I know,” I responded, “And damned if it doesn’t work.”

Tonight it’s David Wells (still thinking on an appropriate nickname for that one although admittedly, Manny’s head rubs did make me squeal with delight,) vs. NotTim (but in fact “Luke”) Hudson for the Reds. Hudson’s sporting a hefty 7.50 ERA but tonight will be only his second appearance of the season. And we all know how the Sox behave around newbie pitchers. So I’m here to tell them that tonight, we’re going to knock that shit off. Tonight, we’re showing no mercy. Tonight, we’re scoring runs! Go on, boys, go get ‘em!

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