Games 142 & 143 - Red Sox
Royals 10, Red Sox 4 (12)
Red Sox 9, Royals 4
Yayyyyy! We beat the Royals! I can die happy now.
For the record, the Sox and Kansas City now share identical 23-34 marks since the All-Star break. That's possibly the single most depressing statistic in a period of grossly disappointing performance.
The Nation is breaking out the big guns on boy genius Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona in a mad rush to assess blame. As therapeutic as such assignation might be, this corner of the blogosphere screams "Stop the everloving madness." The Sox will fail to make the playoffs this season, and 2006 will go down with 2001 as one of the most remarkably disappointing campaigns in memory, but the reasons are pretty goddamn simple - the Sox fell victim to extraordinarily bad luck. Period.
The same Sox team that was 65-43 in late July would have coasted to a playoff berth (or at least been in contention until the season's final days - and probably at a bare minimum would've kept me in the race to win free beer from Whitney) if they'd stayed even moderately healthy - that team was on pace to win 98 games, and they had the bulk of their remaining schedule at Fenway. We've been here before, so I won't belabor the details, but teams missing 3 starting pitchers and 3+ regulars for long, critical stretches simply don't win. Again, period.
There's a lot of "blow it up and start over" talk in the Nation at the moment, a notion that I find inconceivably short-sighted. I'll come back when I have the time and do a less half-assed (though not full-assed - perhaps 3/4-assed) look at the holes that need to be filled in the off-season. Suffice it to say, though, that any team that starts a season with David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling (in his swan song), and Jonathan Papelbon on the roster has a pretty decent core around which to build.
Finally, Whitney wants everyone to know that he's not been around for the last 2 weeks because he's busy composing his World Series Champion acceptance speech for the Mets.