Monday, August 21, 2006

An Early Hot Stove Season


It looks like the Hot Stove season has already begun for the Boston Red Sox. Going into last Monday, they were only 1 game back of the Empire in the AL East:

W L Gb
New York 68 46 -
Boston 68 48 1
Toronto 63 55 8

The Sox’s “big showdown” at home against the Central-leading Detroit Tigers (77-41) and the East-leading Yankees last week provided some “classic AL East baseball” that I haven’t seen in a while. (Detroit used to be in the AL East before MLB went to three divisions in each league.) If you love baseball last was the week to be at Fenway Park or follow the games on T.V. or radio. However, it was also the “classic” late season collapse for the Red Sox. Let's document this one well for posterity...

Monday: Detroit 7 Boston 2
Tuesday: Detroit 3 Boston 2
Wednesday: Detroit 4 Boston 6
Friday (1): New York 12 Boston 4
Friday (2): New York 14 Boston 11
Saturday: New York 13 Boston 5
Sunday: New York 8 Boston 5
Monday: New York 2 Boston 1

This afternoon the AL East standings are:

W L Gb
New York 75 48 -
Boston 69 55 6.5
Toronto 66 58 9.5

With 38 games yet to play it's all but official: hope is lost in Beantown and throughout Red Sox Nation. I suppose after winning the World Series in 2004 things are back to “normal.” For Red Sox fans the 5 game sweep by the Empire will go down as the “Collapse of ’06.” "It was a nightmare," said David Ortiz. The current situation seems to be analogous to the Red Sox being down 3 - 0 to the Empire in the 2004 best-of-seven American League Championship Series.

Why the collapse? We can't blame the manager Terry Francona. Overall, he has done a great job with this team. The Red Sox made no trading deadline moves. Their pitching is shaky. Pitchers Curt Schilling and David Wells have been pretty solid but they have had little run support and no support from the ‘pen. Unlike the 2004 team, they have no set rotation. Their bullpen is shot. Trot Nixon, Jason Varitek, and Matt Clement are all injured. GM Theo Epstein basically conceded the season yesterday. He, along with the rest of us, has an eye on '07 already! We still have 4 games in the Bronx in September to perhaps, sweep back the Empire iff —that's if and only if — the Sox can get some arms on the mound.

Reliever Mike Timlin gave his perspective on last week's devestating events:
"We are going through the fire. We are going through the low times. Character's not built on top of a mountain, it's built in the valleys where you can really see it and that's where we are right now. We're in the low valley. When you're on the bottom of your game, it shows what kind of people you are as a team when you come together to play and we're trying to come together in a low time." ("No rest coming for weary Red Sox" by Howard Kussoy / MLB.com)

Red Sox fans certainly want a team with character. We also want a team with wins.

Photo: David Wells Monday August 21, 2006 (redsox.com)
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