Monday, April 25, 2005

Lost Weekend

Games 17 through 19 - Red Sox

Devil Rays 5, Red Sox 4
Devil Rays 6, Red Sox 5
Red Sox 11, Devil Rays 3

Record: 11-8

You'd think that 15 hours in a cargo van in a span of 36 hours would afford a body enough free mindspace to get some clarity on the first 3 weeks of the baseball season. And it should have, but instead, I spent most of those 15 hours trying to find a radio station broadcasting anything but Creed, Kenny Chesney, or This Week in God.

Just as well, I guess, as I've taken an early detour into my can't-figure-these-guys-out phase of the season. I've been here at various points in each of the 2 seasons we've chronicled the Sox and Mets, but it usually takes me half a season or so to get there. In the past 2 seasons, I've been cautiously optimistic - but really uncertain - early, then drifted into ennui before the team found a spark and made a run.

This year's got a different sort of feeling. I know this team is good, and they've even acted like it on several occasions. They've been in nearly every game thus far, wearing out opposing closers even in losing efforts. Unlike the last 2 seasons, though, they seem completely aware of how good they are, and their sense of urgency suffers as a result. They've shown the ability to come back time and again, so their heart isn't in question - just their motivation. It's almost as if they expect - they know - that they can come back at any point in any game, so what's the big deal. Well, nothing really, until an Alan Embree meatball becomes a massive walk-off blast by Eduardo Perez, or Curt Schilling's 3rd rehab start turns into a blown lead and another loss. Extrapolate that over a season - hey, we're idiots, 11-8 can turn into 24-12 in 4 weeks, so why are you wasting your time worrying in your little blog?

Problem is, left unchecked, that sort of confidence bordering on hubris becomes a tortoise and hare problem. Teams like the White Sox and the Orioles get on enough of an early roll that they get confident, which breeds more confidence, and the Sox piss away a few more 1-run games because - hey, we're good, we can turn it on anytime we want, and all of a sudden it's September and the Sox are fighting for their playoff lives. And a team as good as these Sox should be spending September shoring up their playoff rotation.

Not for nothing, the Sox showed some spark, getting their backs up on Sunday after an exchange of beanballs with the Rays. Though they led 5-2 heading into the 7th inning, I had a baaad feeling that they were preparing to gack another one to the Rays and usher in my first real blognutty of the year in the wake of a sweep. The Rays picked the wrong time to feel froggy, and jumped right into the wrong end of a 6-run beatdown. Almost reminiscent of the Sox' season-turning 11-10 win on July 24, 2004. Almost.

Not for nothing, too, the fact that my blogging has kept pace with the Sox thus far - perfunctory, steady, and just nothing much else. World Series hangover? Perhaps. Adjusting to the full immersion of the Extra Innings package? Doubtful, but I'm reaching for excuses. Relying on Whitney to carry the load, as the Mets' season promises to at least be more interesting than that of the Sox? Hey, now we're on to something. Here's hoping that NOLA didn't take too much out of my colleague.

As for the Sox, it could be worse, I guess. I could be a Yankee fan.

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