Wednesday, October 03, 2007

John Fogerty

Games 161 & 162 – Red Sox

Red Sox 6, Twins 4
Twins 3, Red Sox 2
Record: 96-66
American League East Champions

Time to open some windows and get rid of the funky smell in this place. While the final week of the Mets’ season certainly cast a pall over our little blog, one of our two teams still has some ball left and targets to hit. And even as I’m disappointed that my pal has nothing left to write about, I’m still looking forward to the Sox’ playoff opener this evening.

I’ve been reviewing my pre-playoff postings from 2004, trying to compare my feelings across three years, and I’m struck by the difference. In 2004, as the legendary Idiots began their playoff odyssey and Curt Schilling jumped headlong into the fracas with his “Why Not Us” post on the Sons of Sam Horn message board, I was a bundle of nervous energy before, during, and after each game of the postseason. Some of that had to do with the still-fresh memories of the devastating 2003 loss to the Yankees, and still more was directly related to the Sox’ then-real quasi-tragic history.

Today I find that my sense of anticipation is slightly diminished, though I’m quite certain that I’ll be a nail-chewing, superstition-following, curse-spewing mess when Josh Beckett throws the first pitch of the ALDS during dinner this evening. I’m able to compartmentalize the angst, at least on this postseason eve. Part of that owes to the Sox’ clinching the AL East title for the first time since 1995 – that accomplishment is meaningful, and serves as a little bit of a cushion against any postseason failure. A little bit of one. And let’s be sure about this: 2004 is still working its magic, sanding away the jagged edges on this once-lunatic psyche.

In the interest of full disclosure, though, should the Sox wind up facing the Yankees in the ALCS, I hold out no such hope for balanced rationality. Those bastards still scare the bejeezus out of me.

In terms of the Sox’ postseason chances, well, hell, I don’t know. The four AL playoff teams are separated by a total of two games over the entire season. They all have at least two starting pitchers with talent, big-game experience, or both. They all have solid to great bullpens. They can all score runs. They can all play defense, with the possible exception of the Yankees (who, it should be mentioned, can really score runs). It’s a crapshoot. I’d do no better at making a prediction than a team of trained monkeys.

Basically, then, I agree with this guy. The Sox have been highly proficient at just about every phase of the game in 2007, but they’ve not been dominant in any single one. They play very solid baseball, which worked out terrifically well over the regular season and gives them a chance in every game they’ll play in the postseason. They also have some exploitable weaknesses, especially against left-handed pitching. But at the end of the day, they’ve got as good a chance as anyone that’s left, and they’re still in the mix. I’d be willing to bet that my partner in this blog would take that 10 times out of 10.

In the interest of superstition, then, let’s roll the balls out and see what happens. Lotta ball left. Stay on target.

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