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Soup of This Day #77: Ain’t Got No Cash, Ain’t Got No Style

September 28, 2011

Badger and Tanka
Badger (left) and Tanka in the back of the 4Runner, Chinaman’s Pool on the Gascoyne River in Carnarvon, Western Australia – Photo: Longworth72, 2005. Image cropped by Longworth72.

In 1988 Liverpool made the FA Cup final. They were the dominant force in English football at the time, having won the league in 80, 82, 83, 84, 86, and a few weeks earlier in 88. They had won the FA Cup in 86 and they were clear favourites against a scrappy, unfashionable, Wimbledon FC. I was pretty young at the time but I remember the odds were of the order of 15-1 for a Dons triumph and consequentially I talked it up big pre-match. I told my family, friends, dog, everyone that Liverpool, my Liverpool, were going to win.

Which of course they didn’t.

As advertised Liverpool dominated, creating a host of chances, including a penalty after an hour. That penalty though, taken by striker John Aldridge, was saved by Dons keeper Dave Beasant and it was to be as close to a goal as Liverpool got. Wimbledon meanwhile had scored a solitary goal from a looped header just prior to half-time. They got the FA Cup and I got a lesson in humility.

Bloody Aldridge.

I was shattered. Absolutely devastated. But in my family you didn’t cry and you sure as hell don’t get upset because your football team took a loss. So I blanketed my broken dreams and went out the back to commiserate quietly with the dog. I remember sitting with him under the washing line, ruffling his ears as I told him how bloody unfair the whole thing was.

Barney, named for Barney Rubble, probably just wondered why the funny kid was messing with his sleep. If he could have understood what unfair meant he might have pointed out that he was sleeping outside in late Autumn and that I was just being whiny. Instead he rested his doofus head on my leg and tried to get me to chuck him a few almonds.

That dog loved almonds.

Tomorrow morning the Boston Red Sox 2011 season comes down to 1 game. It’s game 162 of the regular season, the last for a campaign that could be called a roller coaster ride only if there is a roller coaster that scales a mountain just once before crashing back down to sea-level in a juddering heap. That probably sounds a little pointless and I reckon most Sox fans have wondered about that over the past month or so. For all of the doom that pervaded the 2 and 10 start and then the boundless optimism that followed the climb back to the pinnacle, this team has won just 1 more game than it did in a horror 2010. Yep, the vector sum of the emotional Vomit Comet ride, the preseason trades and a ton of talk has been 1 game.

This morning’s 161st and penultimate outing almost ended with it being 0 games. The Sox had to win. Absolutely. Had. To. Win.

Yeah, I know. We’ve been here a couple of times over the past few weeks.

Erik Bedard took the mound for them. Ryan Lavarnway started as catcher for the 1st time and a host of Sox players looked up ‘playing smart baseball’ on their iPads.

Most of them didn’t find anything helpful.

Bedard gave up the opener, before Jacoby Ellsbury smacked a 2 run blast in the 3rd to rip out a lead. In the 4th Lavarnway brought the game to the Majors that he’d belted out in the Minors this past couple of years and tonked 1 over the fence for another 3 runs. Cruising at 5-1 and these Sox did what they have done all season. They gave back 2 and it was a 5-3 ballgame. Like Liverpool in 88 this was clearly not going to be easy.

Still Scutaro made it look easy with a 2 run jolt in the top of the 6th and it was 7-3.

Make that 7-4 as Aceves gave back a run, bottom of the 6th.

Then Lavarnway made the whole Major League dance look like a 2 step with his 2nd home run, this time just netting the 1 run. It was now 8-4 halfway through the 8th.

At which point Bard gave up 2, taking his September ERA to north of 11 and the O’s to a 6-8 ballgame into the 9th.

The O’s scored 1 to peg it back to 7-8 and with 2 outs and a runner at 2nd had Papelbon reaching on 10 pitches to on-fire slugger Adam Jones. Sox Lore 101 called for Jones to plonk the 3 and 2 10th, a slider, over the Camden Yards fence gifting Baltimore an unlikely win and finding another patch of Boston voodoo doll to bury a needle in.

But this being the Sox that outcome was actually too predictable and Papelbon forced Adams into a grounder to 3rd for the game-ending out.

And so we go to game 162. The Sox and Rays are tied at 90 wins apiece. The Sox have Jon Lester on the mound after 3 days of rest and the Rays have David Price up against whoever the vacationing Yankees can draft in to chew innings. This will be bowel-clenching and like a lot of Sox fans I’m praying for the best but mentally preparing for the worst.

It’s been 23 years since Barney helped me through a sporting life lesson. Obviously the Red Cloud Kelpie isn’t with us anymore, heading off to chase his tail and eat his own vomit in doggy heaven in the early 90’s. Nowadays we have a different kind of dog, a Rottweiler/Shepherd cross called Tanka who won me over at the Pound a little over 8 years ago. Like the Sox he’s brought on a roller coaster of emotions. Like Liverpool he’s taught me a few lessons in life and like Barney he’s been my friend and comfort in some moments of despair, some of which make losing FA Cup Finals seem a little insignificant.

Sadly, tomorrow morning when the Sox take the field, possibly for the last time in this tumultuous 2011 the T-Dawg will be at home while I’ll be at work, churning through a couple of morning meetings and keeping a weather eye on the game as best as I can. Strangely enough, my thoughts won’t be with the Sox – They’ll be with Tanka, a long-gone Kelpie called Barney and those kindred souls sweating on every pitch and who might need a touch of either of those dogs before the day is done.

Good luck tomorrow for Sox fans everywhere. Hope that the day finds a win for you and if not may you have a canine doofus there ready to make it all ok.

Might go get me some almonds to chuck at people in those meetings.

Ain’t Got No Cash, Ain’t Got No Style

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