It's weird. We're pessimists by nature--the glass is always half-empty, and the water's always lukewarm with that funky chemical aftertaste--but we haven't quite lost hope this season. Maybe because it's, you know, not mathematically over. Maybe because we were there when the Mets screwed things up last year. And the year before that, etc., etc. And we watched from afar as the Colorado Rockies found Je--uhh--made their amazing run in 2007. We've got approximately a month of baseball left, and we're not about to start watching preseason football.
So it's time to give up on the tired "every season in which the Red Sox fail to make the postseason is, post hoc ergo procter hoc, a capital-F Failure" meme. If life in the big, bad AL East continues apace--hell, if the Matuszes and the Morrowses and the Wieterses and the Sniders of the world continue to improve, it could theoretically get even more competitive up here in the sports world's scariest division of all time***--we could see more seasons just like this. The same team won't be left playing golf in October every season, but when you have three or more legitimate World Series contenders in the same division, well...
Look, between that glorious day when the Red Sox fielded their actual roster (oh, Opening Day, a time of joy and sunshine and hope) and the present, the Red Sox have lost their MVP-caliber first and second basemen, as well as 2/3 of their opening day outfield. They're down fifteen catchers and seventy-four Jonathan Van Everys. Hideki Okajima, Scott Atchison, Manny Delcarmen,**** and a motley cast of clowns have been allowed to pitch in actual games. Major league games, against other major league teams. The Red Sox are also on pace to win about 90 games.
Think about that, then get back to us about this being a lost season. A bridge year. Run prevention, ha ha ha.
Sure, the Red Sox face long odds against making the playoffs. We're not math people--liberal arts majors FTW!--but we're pretty sure the Red Sox need to win 79 of their remaining 31 games, while the Yankees and (Devil) Rays only have to tread water (literally: they're not even obligated to play out the remainder of their games, so they're all getting into the hot tub). But that doesn't we should consider the season a waste, or stop watching and rooting for our team. There's a difference, we think, between facing up to the odds and the reality behind them--the Sox lost too many games to bottom-dweller teams, and lost too many players to supremely freakish injuries--and giving up, full-stop, on the season.
This is a good team. One of the best in baseball. There's lots of fun left to be had.
- Take bets on how many more head taps, exactly, it'll take for Adrian Beltre to really go medieval on Victor Martinez. For a team that has "no star power" he's mighty fun to watch: from the defense to those one-kneed proposal home runs he's fond of hitting. The dude may not have a Beard of Truth or Dreads of Destruction, but otherwise he's definitely our idea of star power: great baseball skills, fun personality, and a sideline in wacky brotherly dugout hijinks. We're bummed that he'll likely be playing for a West Coast team next year.
- Dance to the beat of "The Kids Are All Right." Ryan Kalish, Felix Doubront, and whoever ends up on the roster next. We're hoping for a Josh Reddick sighting as early as tomorrow. Now we have all of September to give all the rooks crazy new nicknames. Can we do better than Yamaico "Me Feel So Young" Navarro? The answer is yes. We hope.
- Clap if you believe in Jed Lowrie. C'mon, you were starting to think that he was just a figment of our collective imaginations, too.
- Write that Made for TV movie you've been talking about writing lo these many years. Base it on the lives and careers of Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava. Shop it around only to have execs tell you it's too farfetched to be believable and that maybe you should head over to Disney with this one.
- Invent a sandwich in Terry Francona's honor. No, wait, that's a bad idea--it would probably involve ham that had been left out too long. And by ham, we mean starting pitchers. (We kid, Tito, we kid. But we have wondered if Leo DiCaprio inceptioned you into believing you manage in the National League.)
The Red Sox are still mathematically in things, and if this season has reinforced any of the many lessons we've learned in our time as baseball fans it's that sometimes? Athletes get hurt. Ballplayers underperform. Pitchers throw meatballs right down the middle of the plate, and batters swing through a pitch that's sitting right there in their sweetspot. Baseball is unpredictable. As Kevin Garnett would yell, eyes bugging out of his head, "anything is possible."
In the meantime, why not relax with a nice cold beverage and enjoy what's left of the Red Sox season? Maybe it'll end on October 2. Maybe they'll make one of those miracle runs we'll all talk about for years to come. Either way, it's baseball. And we like baseball.
*And your father didn't whine about it on Twitter, so suck it up, punk!
**Our plan: if the Rays can't scam the city into building them a new park, they should relocate. To Montreal.
**The obligatory "in any other division" disclaimer: in any other division, they'd be no further out than 2 games (and, it could be posited, based on their record vs., say, the NL West, that they'd have more wins and ergo be in first place in that division, blah blah blah conjecture-cakes). But, of course, they're not in any other division. We're not going to go all George Steinbrenner on you and start railing against a tough division our team, in part, helped create, but the facts are facts. The Yankees and Rays are both projected to win close to 100 games. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap. (But not to the Orioles, not anytime soon.)
***Bye, Manny in the Del! We'll probably miss the idea of you--you're from Boston!--more than actual you--you can't throw strikes and give up too many home runs!--but you were a part of a championship season and no one will ever be able to take that away from you. Or us. Maybe now you'll be able to put "Blame it on the Rain" behind you and live up to your potential.