Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Armageddon


It's panic button time in Red Sox Nation. The Red Sox just got swept in a five game series by the hated Yankees. The pitching staff is in shambles, the starting lineup has been decimated by injuries and they sit 7 games behind the Yankees in the loss column. People all over New England are now sizing up buildings all over the region for their maximum velocity speed potential. There's a suicide watch over the entire city of Boston. Fenway Park is now a full fledged mourning zone. The papers are once again bringing out their usual "stick a fork in them" headlines.

It's amazing how quickly Theo Epstein went from boy genius to moron. Terry Francona has apparently become the worst manager in baseball. According to the fans and the Boston papers, outside of Manny,Ortiz, Schilling, Papelbon and Varitek the rest of the team is basically a bunch of triple A rejects. Every move by Epstein and Francona is being second guessed at this point. The fact that the Sox have had a number of major injuries is dismissed. The finger pointing has reached epic levels. It's as if the Red Sox didn't win the World Series less than two years ago. It seems all that good will is now gone. They have returned to being the team that perpetually lets down it's fans and loses to the big bad NY Yankees.

It's not unexpected, but it's still somewhat disappointing to see the change that has taken place in "Red Sox Nation". All the polls on the sports sites are now running about 80-20 against the Red Sox making the playoffs. Just a few weeks ago the same polls said that the Yankees were the team that would be most likely left out of the playoffs. A short five weeks ago the Yankees were looking up at the Red Sox in the east and White Sox in the wild card standings. On July 13th the Yankees trailed the Red Sox by three games and the White Sox by six games. Five weeks later the Yankees are 2.5 games ahead of the White Sox and 6.5 games ahead of the Red Sox. Things can change that quickly.

"Nothing is over is until we say it is. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? No! And it ain't over now." I use the famous quote from Animal House to illustrate a point. The race is not over. The Yankees magic number is 32. The Red Sox have 38 games to make sure that they never reach that number. Why would anyone want to give up when there is still about 1/4 of the season to be played. I can't believe that Red Sox fans and the Boston press are so quick to bury their own team. This manager and GM got a World Series championship for Boston in '04. They pulled off a miracle against the Yankees to get there. No team had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a post season series in baseball history until the '04 Red Sox (that is still very painful for me to write). Sure this is a different team. But Manny is still there, Ortiz is still there, Mr. bloody sock is still there (by the way, I'll always believe that he put that blood on his sock just so that he could appear to be more heroic). So perhaps they should be cut a little bit of slack.

I don't know, maybe I'm just trying to make sure that I don't take anything for granted, but it has been such an even struggle between the Yankees and the Red Sox over the past 4 years that I can't imagine that this year will turn out any different. People are comparing this last series to the famed "Boston Massacre" of '78. What people don't remember is that while the Yankees did sweep that series and then actually build a small lead on the Red Sox, that team came back to play close to .900 ball over the remainder of the season, including winning on the last day of the season to force the now famous (infamous in Boston)one-game playoff. We all know how that ended (Bucky Dent is a dirty word in Boston), but the fact that the team came back after being humiliated on their home field shows that anything is possible. I haven't counted out the Red Sox and I would hate to think that the people who are supposed to show the most loyalty already have. That would be a real shame. The team deserves better.

P.S.
Today's odds for the playoffs: The Yankees:98%, The Red Sox 11%. The Yankees magic number remains at 32 pending the outcome of the games on the west coast tonight.

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