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They want it more

(October 6)  

Short take:  Tom Kelly's World Series.

If you ever doubted it, don't doubt it now.  If you think there isn't dissent on the team because of it, think again.  If the Sox aren't mailing it in, you couldn't tell on Saturday night in Minnesota.  Tom Kelly wants second place more than Jerry Manuel.  And the Sox lose 6-5.  The best they can do now is share a pittance of a second-place bonus with the Twins.  Isn't that what half-hearted effort is worth?

After six months Sox Fans, is this what it has come to?

The little sand castle of a team Jerry Manuel has built from the ruins of injury and wrong-thinking personnel decisions got kicked over in a big way.  For a guy who makes excuses for not playing young ballplayers like Joe Crede in September, the lie is finally revealed.  For while he claims he can't play these players because he is still trying to win ballgames, the guy in the other dugout is showing precisely how someone who takes the task seriously gets the job done.  Tom Kelly is truly trying to win these games.  What Manuel is trying to do is anybody's guess.  You had better bet his players are scratching their heads, too.

But let's face it Sox Fans, Manuel hasn't got an original thought left in his brain.  Anyone listening to his post-game comments knows he's most famous for contradicting himself from one statement to the next.   If his strategy inside the dugout seems confused, why would any of us be surprised?

Gary Glover got the start.  He is an early favorite to make next year's rotation but he had nothing in this game. The roof caved in on him in the second inning, allowing three runs on four hits including two dingers.  Yes, he walked two, including the leadoff man.  It's a miracle he kept the scoring to just three runs.

The third inning was no different.  Somebody shook Manuel from his slumber to go get Glover after he walked another and served up a get-me-over double.  It was 5-0 Minnesota.  That was the ballgame, too.

Manuel's bucket brigade served admirably.  Matt Ginter, Bill Pulsipher, Josh Fogg, and Alan Embree combined to limit the Twinkies to just one more run the remainder of the game.  It made no difference.

Tom Kelly played this one like Game Seven of the World Series.  The moment his starter got in trouble in the fifth, he changed horses.   The Sox managed just one run off Jose Valentin's sacrifice.  

Next Kelly went to his starting rotation and brought Eric Milton in for relief.   The seventh inning was simply comical.  The bottom of the Sox line up has been a joke all season long, so you knew something like this was bound to happen.  Chris Singleton led off and struck out swinging on four pitches.  Royce Clayton was next and fouled out on the first pitch.  Mark Johnson quickly followed with an infield popout to end the inning--on the very first pitch.  Eric Milton retired our Sox on seven pitches INCLUDING a strikeout.

Pathetic.  Is there any hope Kenny Williams has a clue why you can't have three light-hitting guys on the field, even if they're only hitting #7-9 in the line up?  He says he gets it, but who really knows?

Naturally the guy who has ridden the pine all season is the only one to seriously threaten Kelly's post-game champagne-soaked victory celebration.  Herbert Perry has been odd-man out with Manuel's ridiculous line ups but for some unknown reason was allowed to crawl out of the hole in which the Sox manager has stuck him.  Manuel decides to keep Perry in the game.  Awakened by Kelly's moves, had Manuel suddenly decided to play this game to win, too? 

Truth or consequences, Sox Fans.  If Manuel keeps Perry in the game, isn't he admitting Perry gives him the better chance to win?  Furthermore, if Perry is the key to a winning effort, why has he ridden the pine all season?  It's times like this Manuel's clueless ramblings make a Sox Fan think he truly has no strategy and Perry's insertion in the line up was nothing but a random act.  The alternative theory is too painful to consider.  

So Perry is still in the game in the eighth inning when his turn in the batting order comes up and, against all probability, two runners are on base.  Perry takes Kelly's ringer over the baggie in right field and suddenly it's a 6-5 ballgame.  

That's as close as we came.  In the ninth inning pinch hitter Tony Graffanino got a leadoff single, but Manuel plays for the tie in the Hump Dome (?) and let's Clayton lay down a sacrifice, cutting the Sox's chances to score by one-third.  Our two homerun threats that followed, Jose Canseco (legitimate threat) and Ray Durham (what planet does this guy live on?), each fly out in compliant fashion.  

You can count on one hand the number of successful situational hits in big games this team has achieved.  Who honestly is surprised by any of this?

The season ends tomorrow and nobody but a couple thousand friends and family inside the Hump Dome will get to see it.  It's probably just as well.

Champagne chilling in the Twinkie clubhouse.

Final Installment:  1967

1967 marks the end of an era in Sox history.  It was the last of the Go-Go teams.  In WSI's final installment,  the near-glory and dark ages that followed are examined.  Written by Dan Helpingstine, author of "Through Hope and Despair", here's the first chapter to his new book.

1967 -- Part Three:  End of an Era  

Another WSI Exclusive! 

Sox Clubhouse "Pick to Click" Winner


(Matt Ginter, Bill Pulsipher, Josh Fogg, Alan Embree).  Relieved the shelled Gary Glover and combined for seven innings, allowing one earned run and five hits with seven strikeouts against one walk.

Play WSI's Pick to Click Contest!

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