Monday, August 30, 2004

Games 126 through 129 - Red Sox
Remember That Time...

Red Sox 4, Tigers 1
Red Sox 5, Tigers 3
Red Sox 5, Tigers 1
Red Sox 6, Tigers 1
Record: 76-53
August Record: 20-7

As I get giddier and giddier about the Sox' play over the past 2 weeks, I worry that I'm becoming a little bit like Chris Farley describing his overzealous sales techniques in 'Tommy Boy'. Much like Farley's Tommy Callahan killed his imaginary sale by smothering it, I agonize over the fine line between confidence in this team's chances (they're good) and the realistic possibility that my public acknowledgement of those chances (did I mention that they're really good) is the single factor that will tilt the scales - forever dooming the 2004 Sox to the same fate as their counterparts over the past 86 years. And if you think that last sentence is anything less than serious, well, you haven't been paying much attention, have you?

The recent excellent play by nearly everyone in contention for American League playoff spots has tempered my optimism, if only a little. While the Sox have ripped off 12 wins in 13 games, Anaheim's won 10 of 11, Oakland's on a 7-game winning streak, and Texas - while fading ever so slightly - hasn't disappeared from the picture. On the other hand, a certain pinstriped outfit has seen its double-digit margin in the AL East shrink to less than 5. We at MLC will not be mentioning any specifics related to that last sentence - see sentence 2 in paragraph 1 above for explanation; if you think I'm tugging that particular superhero's cape you definitely haven't been reading our little psychodrama closely enough to pass the post-season quiz.

The Sox swept Detroit on the strength of sick pitching - 6 runs and 22 hits in 4 games - and timely offensive contributions from just about everyone. After floundering about for the better part of the season against mediocre teams, the Sox are hitting on all cylinders, and absolutely mashing the weak sisters of the AL. Tomorrow begins a huge test, though, as their 3 big brothers come a-callin'.

9 games in the next 10 days against Anaheim, Texas, and Oakland. 9 games against the Sox' only competition for the AL's final playoff spot. 9 games against good, hot squads in the heat of the early-September playoff race cauldron. Tomorrow's game is a huge tone-setter, and one of the reasons the Sox got Curt Schilling in the off-season. Big moments have brought out the best in #38 over his career, and he kicks off September in one of this year's biggest, facing the eminently bludgeonable John Lackey (really? is that a word? forget it, he's rolling). Baby steps, baby.

And, in the interest of forced literary symmetry, if the tension gets any greater over the next 6 weeks - a near given - there's a pretty good chance that I'll be doing a spot-on imitation of another great Farley character, foaming, ranting, and breaking things like Matt Foley. Good thing there's nothing in my house from anywhere other than IKEA.

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