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Soup of This Day #37: A Rabbit From A Hat And A Butterfly In The Letterbox

July 19, 2011

Rabbit on grass
A rabbit sleeping off some heavy studying – Photo: Cochinillo Jabali, 2011. Cochinillo Jabali has no affiliation with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

One night, heading home after a hard night of drinking study at university I happened upon a small, open green park in the middle of an inner city suburb. The area was basically just well kept verdant green lawn with some scattered playground equipment in one corner. Situated almost exactly in the centre of this grassy sward was a white rabbit.

An actual white rabbit. Who sat up and stared at me as I approached.

Sure it was midnight, the moon was full and I had been drinking studying hard but it was coolish and I was sobering up gaining situational clarity fast so I’m almost certain the rabbit was real. And white. Almost albino really.

I spent some moments deliberating whether this was a. A monumental practical joke employed by members of my drinking study group or b. Cosmic retribution for the large amounts of beer knowledge that I had managed to imbibe that night or perhaps even c. The End, or something. I of course asked the rabbit but he/she only nibbled on grass and flicked his/her ears. Ultimately, although body language is said to be important in communication, much more important than the verbal side of things, I got fuck all read from the rabbit.

In the end I did what most drunk drunk shit words empowered students do in such situations and carried on to drink some more study on. The rabbit you see was an oddity, an incongruity that made no sense but somehow it just seemed like it was right for that piece of park at that time.

Tim Wakefield is an oddity and an incongruity that makes no sense. Yet like the rabbit he seems right for this time and this park (Fenway).

He’s a 44 year old starter for the Boston Red Sox in the Majors. He’s a knuckleballer, a practitioner of an arcane art that so befuddles everyone that only 2 currently employ it in the Majors. The knuckleball dances, sings, jumps up, jumps down, swerves and swerves again, fizzles, pops, zips and zooms, and all like a hornet on an acid trip. Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Willie Stargell once aptly stated, ‘Throwing a knuckleball for a strike is like throwing a butterfly with hiccups across the street into your neighbor’s mailbox.’

In this morning’s Red Sox outing at Camden Yards the butterfly didn’t make it to the letterbox much and maybe the rabbit was in the wrong park.

Wakefield gave up 2 in the 1st, although Reddick could have done better on a Lee triple over his head. In the 5th Wake couldn’t blame his outfield though, surrendering a 4 run lead in part via a 2 run blast and then a solo long shot. A double brought home 2 more and Tito had seen enough. He pulled the knuckleballer and sent in Dan Wheeler to extricate the Sox from a bases loaded mess. He did that nicely but going into the 7th the Sox were down 7-6.

With such a shaky start you could have forgiven Boston for rolling over. They had cause to, as the previous night’s game had finished at a touch under 2:00am down Florida way and had utilised the greater part of the pen in an epic 1-0 16 inning win over the Rays. Wake had skedaddled to Baltimore ahead of time but the bats must have been drained after making it to bed past 6:00am and they could easily have skivved off behind the deficit.

They didn’t.

They got, in part, some assistance from the Birds pen. It’s one of the worst in the Majors, leaking runs in a way that must make O’s starters cry quietly in the clubhouse after the game. In this case starter Brad Bergesen can’t cry too much because he got beat up over 5, copping for 8 hits and 6 runs. His ERA of 5.76 is legit. Still he handed the pen a lead, 7-6 going into the 7th. There Youk tied up the game with a RBI single against a righty (Berken) brought in specifically for his at bat. Earlier a solo long shot from Salty, RBI singles from Pedroia and Gonzalez (again), a blooped Scutaro grounder that scored a run and a RBI sac fly via the bat of Ellsbury had got the Sox a handy lead, only to see it frittered away by Wake’s 5 run 5th meltdown.

So a tied game into the 8th, Wheeler keeping the O’s bats down nice and tight. The birds could have wished for something similar. The Sox loaded ’em up to start the 8th and then Pedroia doubled in 2. They walked Gonzalez (again) intentionally, a debatable call given his form, leaving Youk to make good at the plate. Which he did with a 2 run single. Crawford added to the woe by driving in another via a single, before McDonald brought home 3 with a double to make it 15-7 Red Sox. Randy Williams gifted 3 back in the bottom of the 8th but the damage was done with neither outfit adding to a score that finished 15-10. Wheeler with the win and an impressive effort to boot.

The Sox are tired, have to be. Over Sunday night and Monday morning they ground out 32 innings of shutout ball against the Rays, no easybeats, particularly down at Tropicana Field. Yet since then they have cleaned up Baltimore, taking the field around 16 hours after leaving Florida. Tampa Bay by contrast has stumbled to it’s 3rd straight defeat, a 9th inning 5-4 loss to the Yankees. Winning breeds more wins. It becomes a habit and the Red Sox have got that habit this season. They have now won 51 of 58 via streaks of 3 or more. That’s some serious traction and a sure sign that momentum will play a part down the stretch. To illustrate this I have compiled the following helpful graphic:

The elephant is Big Mo. The car is the Rays. It doesn’t end well for the Rays.

On a sidebar, this vehicle belonged to a researcher.

Doing research on elephants.

Now I know from my brief flirtation with research that there is this thing you do at the start of the work, called ‘reading’. You’re looking to check whether anyone has already done your chosen research, whether there is more information that can help clarify your intent and if there is a risk that you might find your car being assaulted by the object of said research, i.e. An elephant. A google of ‘elephant attacks car’ can help with the latter. I’m just sayin’, maybe broaden the scope a bit there little buddy.

Knuckleballers, like elephant researchers and their automobiles, defy logic. Which is why I think they are God’s favourite starters. At 44 years of age Wake defies logic twice over and so, surely, he is God’s favourite knuckleballer and maybe he’s a white rabbit in a park at midnight too. I’ll drink study to that.

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