Sometimes you can just feel that you are about to witness Greatness. That history is unfolding before your eyes. Perhaps Josh Beckett retires the first gajillion batters. Or David Ortiz hits two homers in the first two innings. Maybe Jerry Remy reduces Don Orsillo to a laughing, crying mass of play-by-play before the first pitch is even thrown. Clear indications that you are about to observe something truly memorable. When it was announced that Jonathan Papelbon would be mic'd up during batting practice, prior to Friday night's game against the Orioles, the denizens of Red Sox Nation had an inkling that something Great awaited us. But none of us could have predicted the extent of the Greatness that would soon come to pass.
Jonathan Papelbon started the pre-game show on it's ascent into immortality. The mic'd closer, holding court in the outfield, needled Josh Beckett over his decision to use the word "emphatic", in an interview. The inimitable reliever's assertion was that, since Beckett couldn't spell, or define the word, he shouldn't be using it. He presented his case to Manager Terry Francona, just as a child would ask a parent to mediate a dispute between siblings. Francona, handling Papelbon's concern with the same consideration he'd likely give to a pitching change, ruled in the reliever's favor. In the second segment, Papelbon asked Hideki Okajima and Daisuke Matsuzaka why Japan was known as the "Land of the Rising Sun", and then determined that Japan was located in the "Far West" because you could get there by going far to the west. (Mike Timlin was amused by this logic.) The third Papelbonian segment was marred by audio difficulties, but seemed to feature Papelbon and Timlin analyzing the terms of payment for a wager among the relief corps. Three top notch perfomances from Papelbon. These perfomances alone would have been worthy of pre-game show HOF consideration. The other segments of the pre-game show launched it into immortality.
Only one individual could have made this pre-game experience more sublime. That individual, of course, is Amalie Benjamin. Amalie made a glorious return from Scranton, the Land of Dunder-Mifflin, where she was scouting the PawSox. She made three appearances on the show. Yes, THREE. First, she was speaking on Tim Wakefield's brilliance. Later, she was addressing Devern Hansack's demotion to Pawtucket with Tina Cervasio. Then she was, AT THE NESN DESK on Yawkey Way, with Tom Caron and Ken Macha, commenting on the development of Jacoby Ellsbury. Hazel Mae and Tina Cervasio get all of the press, but you don't see them analyzing Ellsbury, and then qualifying their statement by mentioning that a small sample size was being considered. Comparing Hazel and Amalie is like comparing Huston Street to Jonathan Papelbon. Comparing above average to stellar. Apples to bricks of gold. SOLID GOLD, if that wasn't clear.
Hopefully, tonight's brilliance will serve as a precursor to the future of television. A pre-game show that is wall-to-wall Papelbon/Benjamin is just the beginning. I dream of a day where I can turn on the TV at any time, and watch Papelbon hunting ducks in Mississippi, from a duck boat he liberated from Boston. With Amalie commenting, to hilarious results. And I know there are others who share my dream.