I had just settled into a long-ignored groove on the sofa, the edges less defined by the absence of my posterior spending a few days in the hills of the Kancamagus, when the slam came, wrapping itself around that glorious, yet pesky Pesky Pole, and prompting my index digit to search elsewhere for the evening's entertainment, evident it wasn't coming in the form of Boston's nine.
Don and Jerry, goodbye. "Cops" marathon, hello.
No other reality show on television runs the gamut of human emotions more than "Cops." One moment you're all torn up over human drama. The next you're chuckling at the sight of a Kansas City domestic dispute in which the wife is livid that her husband is attempting to steal her clothes, which if they're anything like the nifty black tiger print she has on, well she should be so lucky. And I'll tell you what, if I'm ever pulled over and the officer is sporting Oakley blades circa 1987, you might as well write the check for my bail right then and there because the guffaws are no doubt spilling out.
Back down the digital dial meanwhile, the Orioles led things 7-0 and didn't look back en route to an 8-1 victory in the Fens. The Red Sox fell back to four games behind Baltimore, and we can once again debate whether these aging sluggers might be for real, in first place on the doorstep of June.
So, who goes to the bullpen when Curt Schilling returns, Bronson Arroyo or ... oh, never mind.
David Newhan might as well have slugged Arroyo across the mug with the weight of a Robert Ludlum novel, that's how dazed the Red Sox pitcher appeared as the Orioles' No. 9 hitter deposited a granny in the right field seats. Arroyo's ERA rocketed from 3.19 to 4.06 over his 2 2/3 innings of work, a higher increase over one outing than even Alan Greenspan could fathom.
The good news on a holiday evening at Fenway? Well, Schilling wore another shoe and threw a bullpen session (If the Red Sox marketed player action figures, a la "Star Wars," Schilling would be their Princess Leia, with assorted outfits to choose from: Curt Schilling with bleeding red sock, Curt Schilling with stabilization boot, and NEW Curt Schilling with bullpen balance shoe, which not having seen yet, we can only imagine resembles Kramer's extra support sneaks that land him a date with Mel Torme.)
Schilling was encouraged by the session and even spoke with the media afterward despite the fact that only one microphone was emblazoned with WEEI. He felt good. It's possible he could be back before the All-Star break. No, he's not concerned about Oil Can Boyd taking his place in the rotation.
Schilling's return to the mound will apparently coincide with the Yankees' acquisition of Roger Clemens a little more than a month from now. Mike Lupica writes the now-mandatory daily column in the Manhattan tabloids reasoning why a Clemens-to-NY trade makes sense for everybody, keeping in mind that "everybody" lives in a radius of Larchmont to Hoboken.
Whether Clemens winds up in the Bronx is up in the air, like some of the offerings Carl Pavano dealt to home plate Saturday, which are still somewhere over Manny's old hood of Washington Heights. But the bottom line is, if they hope to make the playoffs for a 11th straight season, the Yankees NEED a guy like Clemens to join them. Who doesn't need a third pitcher over the age of 40 in their rotation?
Of course, the Yankees will be back on the top of the world this week, after they beat up on the pathetic 13-37 Kansas City Royals, but it was evident the trouble they had in facing a team of quality like the Red Sox, a team they were unable to beat up on like the A's, Mariners, and Tigers. Newsday's Shaun Powell attempts to be the Hindsight General and says the Yankees should have signed Pedro. Brian Cashman says, "Oh, now you tell me," crumpling up another columnist's December plea for the team to sign Jaret Wright.
The Red Sox, a week ago never thought to be in the hunt for more starting pitching, will have to wait over the next month to see if Arroyo gets going again, if what happened to Wade Miller in Toronto was an aberration, and to see if the David Wells that popped up in Yankee Stadium on Sunday night could show up maybe once a month or so down the stretch. Is Matt Clement's 6-0 start too eerily close to last season to throw full faith behind him, particularly heading into an upcoming start at Wrigley Field?
Oh, and is Schilling coming back or what?
That's a handful of questions pertaining to the Red Sox' pitching staff. Now imagine you're the Yankees, trying to sort out the mess that is the guys you send out to the mound every night at 7:05. It's a toss-up at this point whether you want Wright to get healthy. If you're a Yankee fan, you might not want him replacing Chien-Ming Wang. Heck, you might not want him replacing the players' entrance security guard.
Not that the Red Sox' pitching as a whole is much better. Their team ERA of 4.78 is 26th out of 30 major league teams. Yeah, seriously. That's not even the worst of it. Colorado is just four spots away. Yikes.
Oh, and those Baltimore Orioles, the ones that can't pitch, are 10th with a 3.93 mark, the best of any AL East team. I have a feeling the Orioles could be in first place on Oct. 1, and only then will folks come around to the fact that they just might be pretty good.
Powell's colleague, Ken Davidoff hasn't done that yet, as he looks at the current races in baseball, and says after further review, the Red Sox will capture the East, with the Yankees taking the wild card. It's still just June, but it's going to be interesting to see the Yankees play the Twins this weekend, and how New York handles Minnesota. For all the praise the Yankees have gotten for a sparkling month of May, the only teams they have played above .500 were the Mets and the Red Sox. They ironically went 3-3 in those games.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox continue to have trouble with the Baltimore Orioles, a team nobody wants to believe in, yet they keep occupying that top slot in the East. And a lot longer than most of us assumed they would do so. If they're there in August, are we still going to be playing Chicken Little?
Curt Schilling can change that for sure. Roger Clemens could change that for sure. Which comes back first is the question that remains.