Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Captain of Her Heart

Games 137 through 139 – Red Sox
(and yes, I realize I fucked up the count somewhere - my blogging has been as solid as the Sox' play)

Blue Jays 6, Red Sox 1
Red Sox 3, White Sox 2 (10)
Red Sox 1, White Sox 0
Record: 75-64

Jason Varitek returned to the Sox’ lineup on Monday night, going 0-for-3 in the Sox’ victory-from-the-jaws win. Coincidentally, the Sox haven’t lost since his return.

Or is it a coincidence? Consider the following: On August 1, the Sox woke up with a 63-41 record. They also awoke to the news that their starting catcher would be sidelined for 4-6 weeks. From that day until Monday, the Sox posted a 10-23 record, sliding 8 games behind the Yankees and nearly falling out of postseason contention altogether. (Cue chorus: “And nearly falling out of postseason contention”. Apologies for the very, very inside joke.)

Had the Sox merely treaded water in Varitek’s absence, playing to a 16-17 mark, they’d be 3 games in back of New York, and 1 behind the surging Twins. If ‘Tek hadn’t been injured, and the Sox could have maintained their .606 winning percentage, they’d be sitting at 83-54, with a 1-game lead over the Yanks, 3 games up on Minny. If my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle, or a very, very successful adult entertainer.

All of that happy horseshit ignores the fact that Varitek was far from alone during his time on the shelf. However, this being revisionist, speculative history, I choose to believe that the captain’s William Wallace-like leadership capabilities would have healed Tim Wakefield’s back, Manny Ramirez’ knee, Trot Nixon’s bicep, Wily Mo Pena’s wrist, Jonathan Papelbon’s shoulder, Mike Timlin’s suck joint, Dustin Pedroia’s inexperience, and Alex Gonzalez’ whatever-ailed-him. And certainly, just a kind word from Tek would have set Papi’s fragile ticker to beating at a firm and steady pace. Alas, no form of horse whispering can save poor Matt Clement’s spooked psyche – time for that sad nag to be taken out back and set free from its misery.

Still much ball to be played, with 23 games left to determine the Sox’ fate. Slim playoff hopes still abide, especially with guys like Julian Tavarez and Kason Gabbard pitching their figurative asses off while the offense tries to figure out what to do with all these guys back in the lineup. Unfortunately, the Tavarezes, Gabbards, and Kyle Snyders of the world will have to carry a sizable chunk of the load over the next month, making the current 6-game Wild Card deficit look daunting indeed.

Daunting, but not insurmountable. Once more into the breach, lads, with your captain charging into the opponent’s terrible maw.

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