Tonight's Red Sox action suggests an All-Star break 'hangover'. as both teams look sluggish. The pace, despite some Red Sox scoring and homers from Mike Lowell and Nick "Moneyball" Swisher, can only be described as plodding.
Almost two hours into the game, nothing recalls the great post-season matchups the Sox-Athletics have had over the years. Does anybody remember the Sonny Siebert classics? No. Good for you, that means you're all far younger than I.
Every opponent brings back some memories, the A's with their abominable stadium, and juicing stars of the past Canseco and McGwire. Actually, if you find a Mark McGwire 'Rookie Card', you see a guy who looks a lot more like Twiggy than the Incredible Bulk.
You see Jason Kendall and wonder why he's not on the Pirates (or whether Jeremy Brown will replace him), and Jay Payton (yes, I still want to call him Gary), author of one of the most selfish stints in Red Sox history. Recall how Payton pulled a tantrum to get himself fired and out the door for Chad Bradford, wasn't it?
Of course, the mid-seventies version of the A's with Rudi, Jackson, Tenace, Fingers, Hunter and others were a powerful bunch. Manager Phil Garner was a player on the 1974 team for example.
Ah, back to the future. Jon Lester once again did his Bill Lee/Perils of Pauline act stranding a legion of A's with some key strikeouts and double plays. Aside from getting a stolen base tonight, Mark Loretta continues to excel with the quick turn of the DP at second.
Craig Hansen continues to progress, as the 95 mph heater has shown some forgiveness. Hansen, Delcarmen, Papelbon, and Lester give Sox diehards something that we have not had EVER, a staff with young, live arms.
Now, if the second half can allow the hot bats to remain at least warm, the slumbering (Crisp) to awaken, and the frozen (Varitek) to thaw, then maybe they've got something.
Minor Happenings. Dustin Pedroia continues his assault to reach .300, Wily Mo gets more at bats at Pawtucket, and Jacoby Ellsbury is in Portland, with a stolen base tonight as he climbs the minor league ladder.
As for those complaints about the Sox not having enough minor league All-Stars, please recognize that their stars are where they belong, on the parent club.