Last year it finally happened. After decades of passionately waiting for The Year, we’ve now had two of them in the last six, and been almost there most of the other years. With so much winning, many of us Sox fans have finally become complacent, downright bored with winning.
It was hard to get up for the 2010 season. Going in, it seemed like the same routine. We’d be good, and still in it come September. So many of us found ourselves in wait-and-see mode, just waiting for the eventual meaningful games to come, and having a hard time getting excited the rest of the year. That was certainly the case with me — I barely blogged at all. And I know I’m not the only one. NESN’s ratings were down enough to make John Henry break a sweat. And it took some creative counting to keep that so-called consecutive sellout streak alive.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll take complacent success over years of meaningless mediocrity any day of the weak. Still, I couldn’t help but envy fans of such teams as the Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers, and San Diego Padres last year who got to cheer with meaning throughout the season . . . a season that really meant something to them.
Last year should have been an exciting year for Sox fans. To say the team was plagued by injuries would be a GIGANTIC understatement. Youk, Pedroia, Ellsbury and many more missed huge portions of the season. They should have struggled to be a .500 team. Still, they won 89 games . . . in the AL East! It was an amazing season. And Terry Francona was robbed in the AL Manager of the Year voting.
Now we move on to 2011. That team that won 89 games now gets Youk, Pedrioa and Ellsbury back. If that isn’t enough to put them in the playoff hunt, you have to believe that Lackey and Beckett will almost certainly perform better this season. On top of that, the Sox FINALLY land Adrian Gonzalez. If that’s not enough to get you excited for the 2011 season, consider they’ll be playing 18 games against a Tampa Bay team that is still strong, but won’t be the powerhouse it has been in recent years. AND, there is still plenty more offseason remaining for the Sox to land another bat.
In fact, things look so good for the Sox, us fans can probably take the season off and wait for those meaningful games late in the season and October that are certainly headed our way.
By the way, Jason Werth’s contract is more proof that some major league general manager’s aren’t any smarter than your middle-of-the-road fantasy baseballer.
If you say you can confidently pick the winner of the ALCS, you are either a fool or a liar. (Or, like my brother, both.) No matter how you break this down, it could go either way. My gut instinct is to go with the Devil Rays. They have good defense, a deep lineup, and a deeper pitching rotation. They’ve also spanked the Sox all season. Think the Sox just need to take one in Tampa? Think again. Tampa beat down the Sox in both Boston and Tampa this year. And they’ve got the track record — they’ve been great all year long.
But then again, Scott Kazmir has looked mortal this season. The Rays bullpen has a bunch of questions, plus there are health concerns surrounding slugger Carlos Pena. And not only are they young and relatively inexperienced, they’re the freakin’ Devil Rays. They can’t possibly be going to the World Series . . . can they?
Of course, things don’t any better for the Red Sox. Lowell is out for the series. We’ll have Mark Kotsay playing first. Josh Beckett looked highly suspect in his last start. Papi and Pedroia have been MIA, and the offense as a whole struggled mightily to score runs in the last series. And then there’s that track record — the Sox haven’t been able to conquer the Rays this season.
But then again, the Sox were whooped by the Angels all season too, and managed to conquer California/Los Angeles/Anaheim in the playoffs. They could do it to the Rays. Even though their offense struggled in the ALDS, they managed to win in four games. You have to think that their bats are due to explode at any time . . . which could punch their ticket to the World Series. Their rotation is more talented than the Rays. Their bullpen is deeper. Their bats are better. And they have the experience; the been-there-done-that factor.
But then again . . . ah well, who knows what will happen. But it should make for an interesting series. I’ll let you know who I picked to win it after its all over. 🙂
With the All-Star balloting over tonight, I finally carved out a few hours to vote for the All Star game. Here’s the surprise: the defending champions shouldn’t have any players among the starters.
I think that it says a lot about the strength of the league and the balance of the Red Sox that that don’t have a clear top player at any position, outside the injured DH of course. Now the fan voting is going to go elsewhere. As a Red Sox fan, I’m going to greatly enjoy having all those Sox sitting in the home dugout at Yankee Stadium. But, when it came to my ballot, I couldn’t put any Sox on it — not even via the hanging chad.
Here’s my AL ballot
C J Mauer
1B J Morneau
2B I Kinsler
SS Michael Young
OF J Hamoltion
OF Carlos Quentin
My philosophy for the All-Star game is that the current year should matter most. However, the previous year should get some consideration. I don’t have a hard-and-fast equation, but in my mind, it’s about 80% this year.
Pedroia is having great years, but Texas’s Kinsler is playing better than even Chase Utely right now. Youk also deserves some consideration, but he’s a bit behind Morneau in my eyes. Nowhere else are any of the Sox regulars even close.
In the NL, I went with:
C B. McCann
2b C Utley
3b A Ramirez,
ss H Ramirez
The catcher race is close between McCann and Martin. Soto, will having a good rookie year, shouldn’t be even close. Shortstop is another close call with Reyes finishing second in my eyes. Second is a run away. In the OF, Jason Bay is having a heck of a comeback year, which put him over for me.