Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Morning After on TSE - 7.25.2007

I didn't get a chance to comment on the return of Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester yesterday, which seems like the first feel good story in sports in a long time, but by now we all know the rub: Last year when the injury bug bit pretty much every player on Boston's lineup (Ortiz: knee; Beckett: arm; Manny: brain (probably)) it was reported that rookie pitcher (7-3 at the time, to boot) was also going on the DL. I saw this as just another in a series of miserable luck for the Sox. But then I heard why he was going on the DL.

He had cancer.

Baseball players break wrists, get hit in the head, pull ligaments. These things go away after a season and very rarely mean anything more than a missed season. In the worst cases, maybe a career is over. But Jon Lester was forced to miss his season in an attempt to save his life, undergoing several sessions of chemotherapy to fight anaplastic large cell lymphoma.

Two nights ago, when Boston needing a win from Lester in the worst way, they got just that, as the 23-year old cancer survivor beat the best home team in baseball in their backyard. It was emotional, it was triumphant and it was finally some good news that the sports world was deeply in need of.

The top stories in sports are about dogfights and indictments, gambling and the mafia, steroids and pettiness. And here comes this kid from Puyallup, Washington, a cancer survivor who has had to go through more to get on a Major League pitcher's mound than most players twice his age. Forget the fact that the Sox are winning the East, have one of the best bullpens in baseball and finally have a strong southpaw in their rotation. The game wasn't about any of it. It was about the return of player who was struck with a lifetime's worth of bad luck, all before the age of 25.

The sports world has clamoured over this story for the past 36 hours and rightfully so. It is an inspiration to sports fans and cancer patients alike. But that doesn't mean that some sportscasters (and I use the term very loosely) have not embraced the story the way the crowd has. Bruce Drennan is a Cleveland-area television host, former Indians color analyst, co-worker of The Seaward at STC and prisoner number 25413*. He was convicted of filing false tax returns in 2004 and spent a number on months in the clink. His property was also the subject of a government raid investigating illegal gambling.

On his show last night, (aptly titled "All Bets are Off", a glorious pun I'm sure Bruce paid someone lots of money to come up with) after another Tribe loss to the Red Sox (Andrew Dice-K with the 4-hitter), a caller made a point that the Indians were giving away runs by not hitting in run-scoring situations. Bruce agreed and said that the same was the case in Lester's start. Arguable but not totally out there. His next statement was a bit more interesting.

"That Lester kid didn't deserve to win, we practically gave it to him!"

Look, Bruce, I'm all about blaming others for my mistakes (just ask JTBI or Seaward) but get real, pal. Your team got out-pitched and out-played by a better team. Your team didn't give him anything other than the opportunity. If this blog has taught us nothing, it's that there is Karma in the sports world. Siding against the cancer survivor may end up hurting more than showering back in prison.

*probably not 100% accurate.


Anonymous said...

It's a neat story, sure... but don't think for a second I wasn't pissed that the Indians went all Wesley Snipes in that game and hit like shit. Funny thing about sports fans... they don't like their teams to lose, ever.

Ghost of Carl Monday said...

i take nothing back - Drennan's a dick.

Anonymous said...

Also, baseball has never been a game known for its sympathy. When Bobby Ojeda returned in his first game in 1993 after the tragic Indians' spring training boat accident, he got absolutely freaking shelled by the Blue Jays (I think).

Personal stories are for Chris Connelly; the baseball field is for winning and losing... and the Indians hit like a bunch of flailing newborns on Monday, period.

Ghost of Carl Monday said...

ya, and none of that is because of Lester's ability. Of course. That makes too much sense.

Anonymous said...

Well when the Indians go out and swing at the first pitch, swing at bad pitches they haven't swung at all year, fail to advance runners and generally exhibit uncharacteristic behavior... yeah, it's fair to say that it wasn't all the doing of Jon Lester.

Don't be that guy who overreacts to a sports-based comment because you got emotionally caught up in a cute story. If I said Matsuzaka didn't deserve the win last night, would you be this pissed? No. Because he didn't have cancer.

Well guess what? Sports don't give a shit about cancer.

And Matsuzaka didn't deserve the win last night either, he deserved a ND.

Joe Table Blew It said...

Hey, you want to hear a feel good story? How bout them Marquette Redskins?

Oh... and The Seaward is right.

Joe Table Blew It said...

also, maybe not the best time to point out that getting hit in the head with a baseball goes away next season