So we’ve been gone for a while. These things happen when real life interrupts blissful Baseball fandom. The time off (which isn’t particularly over, more on that in a bit) has helped to reenergize us and has also reaffirmed our love for the Red Sox, specifically these Red Sox.
C0ming into the season I was confident despite the utterances of such terms as “bridge year” and “transitional period” throughout the off season. I knew that there was no way that the team was going to actually allow a season to go by without making a push for a title, especially with the fact that this season’s payroll ($170 mil) was higher than any in the club’s history. There was a lot of grousing about how the failure to sign Leigh Tiexiera’s wife in the winter of 2008 had screwed up this team for years to come, and local pessimism was at it’s highest point since the winter of 2002, when everything had gone to shit and we still didn’t have a ring.
I could see where the doubters were looking, and I agreed with them in some way, but I still saw true promise in this club. There was some flash, some personality and some frailty, much more like the clubs that we used to love in the early part of the decade. So far, they have proved me right, and there’s much more to which we should look forward.
First and foremost there are the guys who keep showing up an doing their jobs. As long as we have Kevin Youkilis (seriously, Vote for Youk), David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre and (gulp) J.D. Drew going out there every day, the Sox have a chance to win. Without Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez and Jacoby Ellsbury, the Sox have been grinding along, winning the first two of pretty much every series and doing it in every way possible. It is in many ways thanks to these guys.
David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre (both All Stars) have bounced back into form after disastrous 2009s and are both making Theo Epstein look good. Who else thought Beltre was going to hit .340 this deep into the season? Nobody? Yeah, I thought so. J.D. and Youk, on the other hand are as steady as they come, both putting up the numbers and playing the kind of defense we have come to expect from both of them. Even J.D.’s monthly period pains have been just what we expected (he misses 4-5 days a month with some type of nagging malady. Therefore, he’s either a Werewolf or a chick). And we can’t discount Scutaro’s ability to make the routine play and get on base when necessary.
Then there’s the collection of Minor Leaguers, castoffs and miracles that Theo has found and thrown in to the fire. I was at the game when Darnell McDonald made his debut with a game tying homer and a walk off double, and he has been steady if not spectacular, but definitely better than expected for a guy who had been bouncing around the minors for 11 years. Danny Nava, on the other hand, came from the other end of the spectrum but had just as few expectations, and made his presence known just as fast. Josh Reddick, Felix Doubront (tonight’s starter) and all the rest have also been operating above and beyond. These kids (who are mostly older than me) are kicking ass and taking names, and it is good for everyone.
Granted, there are still issues. The bullpen is an absolute trainwreck. Getting the ball to Daily Daniel Bard and Papelmoose has gotten to be an adventure, as anyone who was begging for Daisuke to make it just one more inning last night should know. The injuries will also eventually catch up to us, because you can’t win a world series with Eric “Corey’s less talented younger brother” Patterson hitting in the second spot in the lineup.
We’ll be gone until Monday, as the Sox limp (quite literally) into the All-Star break. Damn real life and it’s getinthewayish abilitites.
They ain’t prefect, but I love ’em. You should too.