Monday, August 28, 2006

Next Year, Next Year

Last time I commented about the Red Sox I said I wouldn't get into a lengthy post-mortem. The Boston Massacre II had taken place, and well, it was pretty clear that when it matters, the 2006 Red Sox are not in the same league as the Yankees. It's hard to come out and say that, and for much of the season it wasn't true. But it's true now, and the Fenway sweep pretty much says it all.

When the Sox play well, they're solid - not a complete team, but top tier. But looking at where these two teams are at now, and the road ahead, a positional breakdown comes out heavily in NY's favor:

Lowell/Hinske vs. A-Rod - NY
Gonzalez/Cora vs. Jeter - NY
Loretta vs. Cano - NY
Youklis vs. Giambi - NY
Varitek/Mirabelli vs. Posada - BOS (maybe)
Ramirez vs. Sheffield/? - BOS - but not by much
Coco vs. Damon - NY - in spades
Nixon/Pena/Kapler vs. Abreu/Matsui - NY
Ortiz vs. anyone else - BOS - in spades
Top 3 starters - EVEN - slight edge to BOS
Starting rotation - EVEN - both inconsistent
Middle relief - NY
Setup - NY
Papelbon vs. Rivera - NY
Francona vs. Torre - NY
Epstein vs. Cashman - NY - this time around
Heart/soul/desire/will/clutch - NY

Looking at like this, it's really hard to see how the Red Sox can come out ahead, and even though there are 30+ games left, you just know it's over. Ever the optimist, I still held out some hope after the big sweep. After all, the Sox hit the road, regroup and maybe get their mojo back. And yes, the Yankees have faltered, and if things were going right, the Sox could still be in range. But the Yankees have left the Sox on the mat, and they've shown no signs of getting up.

Six games into this road trip, and it's clear, they're not bouncing back, and it just looks to me like they've stopped playing for Tito and conceded the season. Now the injuries are popping up, and all kinds of things will start to go wrong. The Red Sox psyche is fragile by nature, and when it falters, it spirals downward in a hurry. No doubt there will be housecleaning, and Coco is looking a lot like Edgar Renteria. If Vernon Wells chooses not to stay here in Toronto, he would be a huge upgrade for the Sox, and this is one case where they won't lose him to the Yankees.

So, I'll leave it at that, and just wonder a bit if the Babe is still looking over our shoulder...

Babe Ruth_Sox.jpg
Source: Boston Public Library

Finally, the inspiration for this posting came from an email one of my long-time Boston friends sent the other day, and wraps things up nicely...


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