Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Slip Slidin' Away

Games 116 & 117 - Red Sox

Rangers 7, Red Sox 2
Rangers 4, Red Sox 3
Record: 66-51

It all seems to be slipping away, doesn't it? Sure, the Sox still have 45 games to play, and they're only one game off the Rangers' Wild Card lead, but the vibe out of Boston is distinctly vintage late 2006.

In a lot of ways, the Sox seem to be approaching the season's final months like Tiger Woods did the last two rounds of this weekend's PGA Championship. Where Woods sought to make pars, hit the center of greens, minimize mistakes while expecting his opponents to wilt before him, the Sox' incremental, hold-steady, wait for things to turn around approach has them falling slowly but surely behind the pack.

Had I been in a position to give Tiger advice (far-fetched, to be sure, but maybe not as much as you think), I'd have implored him to go big, at least early in each of the final rounds. Had he put his foot down, stepped on his opponents' neck, broken their spirits, he might have won by a half-dozen strokes. Instead, he let Y.E. Yang stay close and gain confidence. And if Terry Francona would take my call, I'd offer him similar advice. This is time to be bold, to make obvious though perhaps unpleasant decisions in an effort to change the team's dynamic. Tell David Ortiz he's no longer the everyday DH. Have a similar discussion with Jason Varitek. Demand more from everyone, and make it clear that veteran status doesn't convey with it automatic playing time.

At this point, what do the Sox have to lose?

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