I should have known it was a bad sign. For the past couple of years, Kim and I have watched the playoff games either at our house, or at our friend’s house. But this year we decided to try watching the game at a sports bar that we’ve grown to love. However, we didn’t expect a dart league that stood directly in front of the TV while they were throwing. But at the time, Lester was still putting up zeros, so we figured that it wasn’t worth moving.
But then in the fourth inning we started to notice some strange music. It wasn’t country, and it wasn’t a marching band. It was a combination of the two: a couple of banjos and a sousaphone. I can only describe it as “county fair music.” Since a sousaphone and baseball haven’t been paired together since the 1920s, I immediately had a feeling that this game was not going to end well. (The waa-waa-waa-waaaaaaaa from the sousaphone didn’t inspire confidence either.)
All of Red Sox Nation has forgiven Bill Buckner for his error in the 86 World Series. (Most real Sox fans realized that the game was tied anyways, so it’s not like he singlehandedly lost them the series.) But it’s going to take a lot longer to forgive CB Bucknor for his not one, but two errors at first base.
The reason the Red Sox lost last night was because the offense was terrible against the Angels best pitcher. Give Lackey credit, he pitched well, but just because none of the “errors” directly lead to runs for the Angels I don’t think most people are recognizing was an effect Bucknor’s terrible calls had on Lester. First, there’s the nine extra pitches that Lester had to throw. Without those, he could probably have pitched the 7th, and maybe kept the game at 3-0 instead of 5-0. But the bigger problem is that because of Bucknor’s calls, Lester had to throw a lot more high-leverage pitches. Think about it this way (and I know, it’s a lot of assumptions): if Lester is correctly given the 3rd out of the 4th inning he leads off with Mathis, who Ks. Then Aybar’s double is with one out, not none, so he can still pitch to contact. Instead, he’s got to try a strike out everybody after the sac bunt, and eventually leaves a pitch up to Torii Hunter. With Bucknor’s calls would Lester have been able to match zeros with Lackey? Who knows, but he certainly would have had a better chance.
So there will be no sousaphones, banjos or darts tonight. I will be watching the game from home, where the only noise will be from me yelling at the TV. Sadly, there will still be CB Bucknor, and he won’t be in hiding as he calls balls and strikes. Let’s just hope that Beckett strikes out everybody swinging so he doesn’t have a chance to hand the Angels a 2-0 lead.