BOSTON RED SOX vs. CLEVELAND INDIANS (May 5, 2004)
(by Phil Rippa)
I was flipping channels and was entertained when my TIVO told me that ESPN was supposed to be showing hockey but baseball was on instead. Aww…. poor little Detroit. Burn another car for your fallen homies. Anyway, I got sucked into this game because I couldn’t believe that Frank Viola was now a broadcaster. Here are the thoughts that went through my head as the game progressed.
The broadcast tandem of Gary Miller and Frank Viola is…. odd. I keep forgetting that Miller is still with ESPN and Viola really is the most Italian man in the history of Italian men. It was Viola who got me to stop on the game because I was like “Why the heck does this sound like its being broadcast from the restaurant right down from my parents house?” Miller and Viola are really really entertaining but probably not in the way that they want to be. Miller comes across like announcing the game is beneath him and that he felt he could just show up and start flinging out stories and not do any other prep. Meanwhile, Viola giggles and giggles and giggles. I was confused for a while; I thought that meant Miller was trying to pick up Viola at a Sweet 16 party. The two were also great though at throwing haymakers at anything and anyone. More on those moments as we go along.
In general, this was an ugly ugly game. Two starting pitchers who aren’t so good. Lots of comical fielding. It was played in Ohio.
Speaking of Ohio, it is an Indians game, which means it is time for another rendition of “OMAR VIZQUEL – GREATEST BASEBALL PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE!!!!” Oh boy, Vizquel deposits a grooved pitch from Byung-Hyun Kim into the right-center stands for a solo home run in the first inning. He drives in another run in the second going a total of 2-5 with 2 RBIs. In the top of the second he ranged far behind second to gobble up a grounder by Jason Varitek. Mind you, I could have run all the way from here in Virginia to Jacobs Field, fielded the grounder and tossed out Varitek but Omar is GOD~! Oh, and he stole a base. That was good for a half of inning about what a crafty veteran he is. “HE STOLE OFF A PITCHER HE NEVER SAW BEFORE?!?!?!?!?! AND HE IS A LEFTY!!!!! MOVE OVER RICKEY~!” ESPN showed clips of an interview with him throughout the game and I started rolling at the part where Omar was tossing out the backhanded compliment of “how great it was that since this Indians team was so young they had to work on fundamentals everyday”. The underlying bitterness in Vizquel’s voice made suffering through the love just a little more worthwhile.
I really need to write this now before I completely forget since it was the highlight of the game for me. Gary Miller brings up how either Bill Mueller or Kevin Millar (still can’t keep them straight – okay, I looked it up, its Kevin Millar). Okay, Miller brings up the story about how Millar revealed that he soaks his bat in deer urine. Urine is the hot topic of major league baseball – what with Moises Alou peeing all over his hands to prevent calluses. Maybe Moises should start peeing on his shoulder or his hamstring or just his entire leg. Screw it, Alou really needs to develop a Golden Shower fetish if he wants to play another 8 to 10 years. Okay, back to the point at hand. Is there anyone more appropriate to be talking about urine than Gary Freakin Miller? I wonder if he starts getting a Nam like flashback in the booth and Viola had to talk him back from the window before Miller whizzed on some more cops.
David Ortiz has a strong game… as per usual. Two home runs – a solo in the first and then a three run shot in the third as Indians starter Jeff D’Amico quickly gave away the 2-run lead that his teammates had staked him too. D’Amico wasn’t so good and he tortured everyone by working amazingly slow. I am slowly working my way out of the Ortiz bitterness that I developed through no fault of Ortiz. I have always dug Ortiz but the whole Peter Gammons lead ORTIZ FOR MVP campaign was probably the most bothersome thing from last year. I have a feeling that the BONDS HITS .400 campaign this year will quickly make me forget that though. I am getting distracted.
There is really one word in the English language that Gary Miller should never be saying. And that is TIGHT! I know he used it at least twice – once was talking about David Oritz’s haircut (which was in the middle of his constant babbling about Ortiz’s titanium shirt.)
I will say this – Miller and Viola made things entertaining by hating on many a topic. There were both guys harping on Manny Ramirez showboating after hitting a home run in a game in which the Sox trailed by 6 runs. There was Viola hating on AAU and pimping little league. My favorite moment though was after coming back from showing Mike Piazza’s HR (the one were he passed Carlton Fisk for the most homers by a catcher), Miller was destroying Piazza and his inability to actually field or throw out runners. We all laugh as Viola tried to defend his boy Piazza.
Casey Blake had one of those games that drinking lots of alcohol will help forget. He came close a couple of times to actually making contact.
The Bottom of the Third was one ugly inning. First BYK botches the pickoff attempt, then Mark Bellhorn botches a ground. I am sure Pokey Reese was glaring at him from SS. “YOUR GLOVE IS WEAK! ALL YOUR BASE BELONGS TO ME!” The third error was Kevin Millar’s attempt to field in Right. (And none of this counts the Indians scoring two runs off of sac flies hit to Manny because lets face it, I could score on a shallow sacrifice fly to Manny Ramirez). Of course, the Indians capitalized on all this by scoring… one run. The Red Sox adventures in the field allowed Miller and Viola to fill for several innings. I don’t think Mia gives Nomar as much oral as he was getting from those two for the rest of the night.
Actually, there is another word that Gary Miller needs to never say again. Pronk or Cronk or Crank or Krusty. Whatever that nickname that Travis Hafner has that Miller was fascinated with (it was a hybrid of I think project and donkey. I know donkey was one on of the words, the rest of time I was trying to jab my ear drums with a Q-Tip.)
I guess the bloom is off the Johnny Damon hair angle as it took till Damon’s third at-bat before the announcers starting commenting on it. Miller was rattling off Damon nicknames including probably the best one “The Passion”. I haven’t figured out what was sadder though – the fact that Miller actually explained the nickname “The Passion” or the fact that Miller didn’t want to just come out and say that JD looked like JC (he covered this by going “Damon looks like James Caviezel in that movie.”)
Game pretty much got uninteresting when Bronson Arroyo came in and once again proved that he should be in the Red Sox starting rotation permanently. Two innings pitched, allows one hit, strikes out three. Meanwhile, I poured a 40 for all the poor little fantasy teams with David Riske on them.