Manny’s not focused again, blows

Manny’s not focused again, blows game with bonehead play

Manny throws game away

Should Manny even be playing the field anymore?

Wow. Manny really blew it this time, didn’t he? According to Bob Lobel on the Globe SportsPlus last night, Manny was the sole reason the Sox lost the game last night. He couldn’t get off the air without getting his panel to agree with him and then smugly staring into the camera to say good night. The first headline above is from my pal over at DirtDogs. The second headline was the one the show displayed while they replayed Manny’s throw (which admittedly was horrible) about 20 times in succession. The third was a question asked by Lobel. To which I ask, who are you gonna stick out there? Millar? Ha. Giambi? Haha. Another question…what if that was Trot that made the throw? Would it had even been noticed? Trot can throw the ball into the stands after catching the second out of the inning and not catch any heat for it.

While Manny’s terrible throw was a factor in losing the game, there’s no way you can pin sole responsibility on him for the loss. Too many other things happened last night, as Jeff Horrigan points out this morning, asking a series of “What if” questions. Lobel’s panel agreed that Grady did the right thing by intentionally loading up the bases after Manny’s throw to attempt to get a force at home. No one seemed to remember that this is the second time Grady has done this “Lets intentionally load the bases so we can get a force at any base” trick against the Yankees. He did it last year, on July 21. The now immortal Urbina was the closer…and he walked Posada to force in a run and lose the game…just like last night. I didn’t like the strategy last year when he did it with Urbina and I don’t like it now. Too much pressure on your pitcher to throw strikes. Especially a young pitcher like Lyon. Gordon Edes acknowledges that Grady did this last year, and says there is little comfort to be taken in the comeback. Edes says he checked and Jason Varitek was not thrown out of the game…after the game was over, while Steven Krasner says he was. Don Amore says this is just the same old story. Yankees get the upper hand in the end. David Heuschkel looks at the emotionally charged ninth inning, remembers lasts years similar loss and notes there was some anger in the Sox clubhouse after the game. Nick Cafardo notes further the frustration of Varitek and Lyon, and focuses on the comeback, though it is of little solace. On another note, Nick has been around the Sox for some weeks now, and I’m still waiting for him to get that interview with Manny. He said on WWZN one day that if he was still covering the Sox, he’d get Manny to talk to him. George Kimball does devote an entire article to Manny’s throw, but says while he wasn’t to blame for the loss, he set the stage for it, which is true. Sean McAdam says that the Sox really wasted opportunities to put ground between themselves and the Yankees, and just might’ve awakened the Yankees from their swoon. Tony Massarotti is more positive, he says there can be no doubt that this is a different Red Sox team, fearless and without quit. Steve Buckley garners reaction to that controversial ball three call. Larry Lucchino said on WEEI this morning that Umpire Joe West has a reputation in the game, which was affirmed last night. He said the team will be putting in an inquiry into the quality of the calls last night. Edes has a short sidebar looking at Rivera’s ninth inning meltdown. Edes further looks at Derek Lowe’s ongoing case of hodophobia…what’s that? “fear of road travel”. Massarotti also looks at Hillenbrand’s power outage this year, last night’s homer was only his third of the year. Jack O’Connell looks at Don Zimmer firing back at the Boss. Bill Reynolds has a look at Moneyball, the much talked about book about the Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane. There are Sox-related excepts in there as well. (If you want to purchase the book, if you buy it through the icon in the right column, I’ll get a couple pennies from it.) Charlie Pierce, writing for Slate, says that Roger is the last great flake in the game. Howard Bryant’s pay column says the missed third strike call was not the reason the Sox lost the game. Shoddy defense was to blame. The Yankees made great defensive plays all night, and the Sox didn’t, including Manny. Steve Buckley’s pay column is a tirade against John Henry Williams, who was released from his minor league team yesterday. George Kimball has a pay column looking at John Burkett, again wary of going to Toronto, due to the SARS scare. Burkett came under fire for his comments on the Sox last trip, and is scheduled to pitch the opener on Friday. Krasner’s notebook has more on Toronto and SARS. Cafardo’s notebook looks at the tough ninth inning for Brandon Lyon. Horrigan’s notebook looks at Tony Cloninger note making the trip to Toronto because of his weakened immune system and the SARS scare.

Steve Conroy gets Mike O’Connell’s thoughts on the retiring Patrick Roy. Kevin Paul Dupont looks at an NHL that desperately needs a style upgrade. Stephen Harris looks at former Bruin Adam Oates trying to win a cup with the Ducks. Dupont’s notebook gets Pat Burns’ thoughts on his former Montreal goalie.

Peter May looks at the Spurs attempting to finish off the Mavs once again.

For those looking for football news, out in Buffalo, Allen Wilson says Drew Bledsoe is “fired up” to start his second season out there. ESPN.com has its offseason overview for the Patriots posted.

Here’s a snippet from Rick Gosselin’s Inside the NFL newsletter today.

Who has had the best off-season?
Jeff Elmore, Colleyville, Texas

GOSSELIN: The Patriots. I gave them one of my two A's in the draft, and they picked up four veteran starters in free agency, including Pro Bowl safety Rodney Harrison. This is a team that won a Super Bowl a season ago and tied for first place in the AFC East in 2002. The Patriots just keep accumulating talent.

From yesterday, Jim Donaldson says athletes that choose not to speak to the media are actually playing it smart.

ESPN has Devils/Mighty Ducks game two tonight at 8:00. TNT has Spurs/Mavs game six at 9:00. ESPN2 has Mets/Phillies at 7:00. Those interested in self-flagellation can check out the Bruins/Canadiens from game seven of the 1979 Stanley Cup semifinals on ESPN Classic at 5:00.