Alright so, let’s kick things off by stating the obvious. As Sox fans, you are disappointed, I am disappointed, we are all disappointed. This has been a singularly painful couple of weeks baseball, as the Red Sox have frittered away a big lead in the Wild Card faster than Michael Vick wasted away his first hundred million dollar contract. The Internet is bulging wider than Val Kilmer’s waist line today with doom and gloom stories revolving around the Sox damp, drab couple of weeks shenanigans.
Well, much as we all love definitive statements and stories with a neat, tidy bow wrapped around them, there is much more to this Sox ‘collapse’ story than meets the eye. A little perspective is required amongst the slumping, screaming, slashing, headlines.
First things first, the Sox are getting healthier every day. They welcomed back Josh Beckett on the weekend, and when Erik Bedard takes the hill tomorrow Tuesday, their starting rotation will almost be back to full strength. With a two game lead on Tampa, if Boston manages a handful of wins in the run in, they can start resting their pitchers for the playoffs. They are not chasing. They are being chased.
Secondly, much as most old school baseball fans hate them, statistics are a part of the game. An integral part, you could argue. Well, the ‘surging’ Tampa Bay Devil Rays have an 11.4 percent chance of making the playoffs, and Boston are still in possession of a meaty 88.2 percent chance going into tonight’s double header with the woeful Orioles.
Speaking of which, thirdly, in their last ten games of the 2011 season, Boston faces the Baltimore Orioles seven times. That’s right, 70% of Boston’s remaining games are against the Orioles. The 62-89 Baltimore Orioles. If the Red Sox fail to reach the playoffs, nobody is going to be able to blame the run-in schedule. Boston has its destiny firmly in its own hands. If Boston goes 6-4 over the last ten games, Tampa has to go 8-2 just to tie. Who does Tampa have in seven of its remaining ten games? The New York Yankees. As those two sluggers bash chunks out of each other, Boston will be playing against the Quadruple-A Orioles.
If anything, you could actually argue that because New York and Tampa will be taking games off each other in the run in, with Boston facing the Orioles, they might actually still have a shot at the AL East.
However, that’s not what people are writing. We are being subjected to endless drivel about how Tampa are playing the best baseball in the Majors right now (Gosh, imagine playing decent baseball with one of the best rotations in the game! Shocker!) and the Sox are going to be swept aside by some sort of Devil Ray revolution. Please, spare us the endless pap about the Rays ‘playing fearless baseball’. They caught Boston at the exact right time, wounded, injured and playing with more AAA players than we shall see in the run in. No doubt screaming about disastrous end of season flops makes for good copy, however when you calmly consider all the facts, the Red Sox will most likely get healthy, beat up on the Orioles and cruise into the playoffs.
What happens then, however, is a whole new ball game.