That's a word that champions sneer at, that heavyweights think doesn't matter. When you've got skill, who needs luck?
But you won't find any doubters of good ol’ luck here in Boston. No, this town has respect for luck, karma, curses and the like.
Not even a decade past the last curse (that 86-year one was a dinger, wasn't it?), Red Sox fans shouldn't be too eager to forsake luck. Not when it was on their side for a bit.
Whatever word you use — luck, karma, snake-bitten — the bugger was out full force on Saturday. The Red Sox were handing the ball to Aaron Cook, a pitcher they brought into spring training with the chance to finally realize his potential. Cook has had some rough streaks, but they were just funky injury rough streaks. This guy can pitch, and his sinker is an especially nice pitch to have when you need somebody to lock down a start, save your bullpen and get your team that W.
Cook had been more than excellent in the minors this year, making such a strong case for himself that the Sox knew they had to find him a spot on the big league roster, lest he use his contract freedom and find another team that would be ready to give him a great role and more.
So, Cook came up, and it was at a time when a Boston starter (Josh Beckett) was having his own problems. Perfect. Put the guy in the game, see how he can do, and then go from there. Best case scenario? He blows the doors off the place and rises into consideration for a starting spot. Worst case? He eats innings and has to help from the bullpen.
But those scenarios are in a world without luck, karma, curses and being snake-bitten.
On Saturday, worse than worst happened. Cook was steaming along when he went to cover home on a play, like any good pitcher should. A slide, a scoot, the ball comes in — and suddenly Cook's leg is bleeding. Merely a flesh wound, you say! Cook thought so, too, and the trainers concurred. So he kept going. But even without Ty Cobb-like spikes on the feet of the runner, damage was done. An Amare Stoudemire-like chunk of skin was hanging off Cook's leg. His knee went numb, and his start went south. In the end, it was Orioles 8, Red Sox 2. Another loss, at home.
Did someone bring a goat?
To Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, the worst part of the whole affair was how it ruined the little shred of hope he had that a decent plan would finally work out right for Boston. Valentine has been given all the cards he's asked for, from great starters to capable relievers to high-caliber bats. But things just aren't clicking together the way they should.
On Saturday, he just needed a little tie-over, a little bit of the guy who was so good in the minors to come through.
"With the short bullpen, I thought we were going to get lucky, and he was going to be able to pitch," Valentine said.
But luck had the last laugh.
It wasn't Cook's fault — he was certainly a trooper throughout. But as the streaky Red Sox swing back and forth, and the parts work together just long enough for a glimmer of hope before falling horribly out of sync, there's not much room for analysis or prediction anymore.
How do you gameplan for luck?
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