Friday, September 23, 2005

Mumble, Stumble, Bump

Games 150 through 152 - Red Sox

Devil Rays 8, Red Sox 7
Red Sox 15, Devil Rays 2
Devil Rays 7, Red Sox 4

Record: 88-74, 1 GB NYY, 1.5 GB CLE- Wild Card

The Red Sox had a terrific chance to run away with the American League East this season and settle the final score remaining from the last 6 years. Through a combination of injuries, miserable pitching, suddenly less-than-timely hitting, and a Yankee resurgence, they now find themselves on the outside looking in.

Y'know, there is a silver lining here, or at least a glimmer of a modicum of a sliver of a reason for optimism. The Sox are living, breathing proof of the baseball's unique nature, of the game's ability to radically change its terms from one day to the next. The Sox are less than a full calendar year removed from the most startling transformation in sports history - an 8-game winning streak on the heels of the most putrid of 3-game losing streaks. More than half the current roster was present for that transformation. And that, kids, is what I'm hanging my faded, perfectly-fitted Red Sox hat on.

Because the objective facts aren't pretty, not with the Sox now turning over their bullpen fate to Mike Timlin and 3 fuzzy-cheeked lads with fewer career appearances combined than Timlin's made this season. Not with the Yankees getting 7 games against the Blue Jays and Orioles (and if the O's show some sack this weekend against the Sox after humbly submitting to the Yankees in 4 straight this week, so help me God I'm driving to Charm City and personally jamming Peter Angelos' head in an unflushed toilet) and the Indians getting a healthy dose of Kansas City. Not with injuries mandating important roles for Adam Hyzdu and Alex Cora. Not with Edgar Renteria making a late run at the all-time error record but making up for it by swinging a Patek-ian bat. Not with one hot bat in the lineup and 8 hit-or-miss-and-miss-and-miss compatriots.

10 games to play, with the last 3 against the Yankees. I suppose if you'd told me that the Sox would play the entire season without a healthy Foulke or Schilling, I'd take 1 game out with 10 to play. Now though, after leading the league for the better part of the season, failing to make the playoffs would be a particularly bitter pill to swallow. And I'm having a hard time coming up with an especially optimistic line on the next 10 days.

Were this any year prior to 2004, the angst pouring from this and dozens of other Soxbloggers' keyboards would have been thicker than the plaque coating Whitney's arteries. Now, though, while I'm highly agitated and more than a little disappointed, and will grow increasingly so if the Sox complete their slow fade into oblivion, the pain will be muted by the still fresh-enough memories of last October. And I can't help but wonder if the Sox themselves are subconsciously thinking the same thing.

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