Tuesday, July 08, 2008

''Oh my GOD! The Red Sox aren't 92-0!! Everybody freak out!!''

Calm, balanced world view. Patience. Overall, dispassionate global view of events. These are things you do not equate with the average Red Sox fan. Take for example this 2008 season that is upon us.

The Boston Red Sox have a record of 53-39, good for fifth overall in the Majors. They are only four games out in the AL East, which means they are one bad Tampa streak away from the top of the table. Tampa have an inexperienced side with several players over achieving in a big way. They also have an ace who's arm should fall off in, oh, about two weeks if past experiences are anything to go by.

And yet, even still, panic sweeps the nation this Tuesday morning.

Okay so, rather than get caught up in the debate, I am going to take the Jeremy Grey high-road on this one.

Jeremy Grey: That's interesting John, that glass looks half full to me.
John Beckwith
: Wow, now that you mention it, it is half full!

Here we go, the top ten reasons you should not freak out about the Red Sox, at least at this juncture.

1. The Kazmir Identity
Okay, quick word association game. Scott Kazmir. Rich Harden. Come on, it's right isn't it? You are telling me you didn't think of Rich Harden when I said 'Scott Kazmir'? Honestly, if you were a bookmaker, for example, and someone said 'Hey give me odds on Kazmir finishing the season without another trip on the DL', well, what would you say? 2/1? 5/1? 10/1? The answer as always is somewhere in between, maybe 4/1 Kazmir gets to October without a stint on the DL. Without the NY Mets version of Jeff Bagwell, The Devil Rays rotation is very ordinary. It would be similar enough to the Sox losing Beckett, with the massive difference that the Sox have infinitely more depth than the Rays. Listen, seriously, Kazmir is not going to hold up. He never does!! I am the chug-monkey that has picked this injury prone soft-ace for his fantasy team pretty much since he joined the majors. Trust me on this one.

Scott Kazmir - leaving physiotherapy, a familiar sight!

2. Horse racing.
Say you are watching a race, right? And there's a flyer gone off in front, and he has led all the way and pushed the pace hard. Say in the same race there is another horse, cruising along, barely pushed at all and with plenty of stamina and kick for the home stretch. Which would you rather be on? The Red Sox are, with the fifth best record in the majors, plenty of depth and serious star power, primed for that late home-stretch run. Way better to have the final kick than get caught at the line.

3. Big Papi
There's a young gentleman coming off the DL soon with a fully repaired wrist who has a penchant for hitting the baseball out of the park, often. This young man has only been one of the greatest, most clutch hitters in Red Sox history. Yes, that's right, David Ortiz is coming back soon to a Fenway Park near you. The knock on effect up and down the Sox lineup should help Boston in those dastardly one run losses. If you aren't excited about Big Papi coming back, you are either from NY or you just don't like baseball.

4. Homeward bound
Have you seen Boston's record at Fenway? No? It's a sensational 32-10, only one win behind Chicago (NL) for the best home record in the Major Leagues. Best part of this whole deal? Of Boston's remaining 72 games, they get to play 41 of those at the 'Fens. That's right, 41 more games at Fenway Park. This is a very good development.

5. The Material Girl
Think A-Rod is enjoying current gossip column developments? Think the guys in the Yankees clubhouse are enjoying A-Rod acting the maggot while they struggle to get back in the AL East race? My guess is the answer to both questions is 'Nay'. At the end of the day however, the headline story seems to be, 'A-Rod can not keep it in his pants!' This is good for Boston, as the 750lb Gorilla in the room, the NY Yankees, are shaken up further thorough the summer.

6. Been there, done that
The Red Sox clubhouse is littered with veteran players who have won the World Series and know what it takes to make it to the promised land. These guys are not going to be intimidated by anyone. The flip side of the coin? Take the Tampa Bay Devil Rays actions during their home sweep of the Sox last week. They celebrated like it was 1999, both players and organisation on the whole. Their bad-karma mocking of the Sox by playing 'Sweet Caroline' after the final out was made can only come back to kick them in the backside further down the road. You simply don't celebrate that hard in July. If you do, it means you haven't been there before.

7. Young guns
In Clay Bucholz and Jon Lester the Red Sox have two young, fresh arms in their rotation that are the envy of every other team. The two kids have only thrown a no-hitter each in the last twelve months. Lester in particular has matured faster than anyone could have possibly have imagined. You know what, I am absolutely sick to death of all the negative rubbish spewing from certain corners of Red Sox nation the last few weeks. You are not going to win every game! Teams go through peaks and valleys, it is a natural progression through the season. How on earth can you complain about the path the Red Sox are taking with all things considered and adding in the blossoming futures these two young gents have on the Fenway mound?

8. The man who would be Drew
How about the sensational season JD Drew is putting together? Drew is batting .300 with sixteen long bombs and 51 RBIs. To add to that he has scurried home 62 times. By all accounts he is shutting the loud-mouths of those who wanted him thrown on the scrap heap last season, a year which saw his family go through the horror of their young boy having life threatening surgery. To all those idiots, Drew is lifting one giant finger in their general direction. It's fun to watch. If Drew maintains anything close to this scorching pace when Ortiz returns, how on earth are you going to pitch to this lineup?


9. The bullpen
You would think the Red Sox bullpen was struggling mightily from the abuse that has been thrown its way in the last couple of weeks. Kind of odd, considering four major parts of the bullpen have earned run averages of under three. That's right, four of them. Papelbon, Okajima, Aardsma and Lopez, all heavily used bullpen parts, are well under three. To add to that, it appears Justin Masterson and his sensational .170 average that righties have against him is joining the bullpen soon. The Sox bullpen is young, fresh and is going to play a major role in the second half.

10. The twelve days of Christmas
In the crucial dog days of August, a season is often made or broken. Just treat yourself to the following twelve game stretch the Red Sox will have right, smack in the heat of the pennant race.

  • Mon, Aug 4 @ Kansas City
  • Tue, Aug 5 @ Kansas City
  • Wed, Aug 6 @ Kansas City
  • Fri, Aug 8 @ White Sox
  • Sat, Aug 9 @ White Sox
  • Sun, Aug 10 @ White Sox
  • Mon, Aug 11 @ White Sox
  • Tue, Aug 12 Texas
  • Wed, Aug 13 Texas
  • Thu, Aug 14 Texas
  • Fri, Aug 15 Toronto
  • Sat, Aug 16 Toronto
  • Sun, Aug 17 Toronto
  • Mon, Aug 18 @ Baltimore
  • Tue, Aug 19 @ Baltimore
  • Wed, Aug 20 @ Baltimore
  • Fri, Aug 22 @ Toronto
  • Sat, Aug 23 @ Toronto
  • Sun, Aug 24 @ Toronto
That is a 19 game stretch that managers dream about. Over two weeks of games against medium-poor level teams right when the season is approaching it's dramatic climax. You can't see a couple of big winning streaks in that stretch?

No? Well then, I guess the glass is half empty to you.

Good luck with that.


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Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

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