Sox Fans, This Is What You’re Seeing
All over Boston, the refrain is the same.
“Who could have predicted this?” the pundits say. “Nobody predicted they’d be this good.”
Unburdened by false modesty, I will tap my chest and say, “Me! It was me that predicted it! I’m the guy! Why don’t more people listen to View from the Lone Red Seat?!” (It’s a podcast. Not everybody listens to it.)
To be 100 percent honest, I am too lazy to go back and check on whether I actually said, “Yes, I believe the Sox will defeat the Detroit Tigers in six games and move on to the World Series,” but am pretty sure I was close.
Maybe I said, “they will contend,” which made me Nostradamus compared to all of the doomsayers and realists who picked the Sox to finish in the bottom of the division.
Just as I said “they” were too optimistic in 2011, I have steadfastly maintained that “they” were way-y-y too pessimistic about 2013, based solely on the scientific truth that a starting pitching staff will always seek its own level. Or something like that.
So, if you’re a Red Sox fan, you should have listened to me, even if that meant somehow finding our once-a-week podcast, or “friending” me on Facebook, or somehow actually knowing me in real life (creepy).
If those pundits had listened to me, they would have saved themselves some embarrassment. And ditto for you, Red Sox fan. Instead, a lot of you whined about the Sox all through the season, predicting their demise, pointing out their flaws, all through their best-in-the-American-League season.
Many have finally jumped on the band wagon, even if they are focused on silly things like beards and “team chemistry.” A good playoff beard is always important, but if you want to sound wicked “smaht” as you watch the World Series, there are more important things to focus on. With that in mind, here’s some stuff to talk about:
1. In the playoffs, the Sox have become Jonny Gomes. The outfielder’s season seemed a replay of the old TV show Quantum Leap, where hero Sam Beckett would jump into people’s bodies at a key juncture in their lives and save the day. In the Jonny Gomes version, Sam would “leap” into his body just in time to make a huge defensive play, draw a walk in the middle of a rally, or hit a game-winning home run. The rest of the time, he didn’t do a whole lot.
Against St. Louis, David Ortiz had two hits and one was a game-tying grand slam. In that same series, Shane Victorino had three hits and one was a game-winning grand slam. Jarrod Saltalamacchia had three hits and one was a game-winning single. As for Gomes, he hit .188 but scored the game-winning run in one game and the tying run in another.
So as you watch the games and someone does something great after doing absolutely nothing, turn to your friends and say, “That’s Beckett doing that.”
They will assume you mean Josh, and that you’ve suffered a brain injury, but you will know the truth.
2. Remember during the season when you swore that you wouldn’t complain if you had a great defensive shortstop who couldn’t hit? Of course you were talking about Jose Iglesias, but life is full of irony. Stephen Drew’s defensive savvy – not many guys can turn a phantom double-play while standing 20 feet off the bag – has been hugely important in the post-season. And what have you done? You’ve complained about his hitting.
Face it. You’re a Red Sox fan. Your shortstop needs to hit.
3. These days, many baseball people feel amassing strikeouts is not that big a deal as long as a player is productive. What burley, streaky first baseman Mike Napoli proves is that even if that opinion is true, it can be frustrating. In the post-season, Napoli hit .154 in the series against Tampa Bay, .300 with four runs scored and four extra base hits (two home runs) against Detroit. Also in the Detroit series, he struck out 11 times in 21 total at-bats (including one walk). Performances like that takes some getting used to.
4. Not even at the bottom of a Little League lineup, where “a walk is as good as a hit,” is anyone making as big a deal about bases on balls as in the Xander Bogaerts universe. In the post-season, he’s hitting .500 with a 1.727 OPS, but the big news is that he’s got five walks. “He’s showing good patience,” is the typical analysis. “He’s staying within himself.”
Even more impressive: in 23 games at AA ball in 2012 he drew one walk.
This kid can adjust.
5. Remember how much you wanted to get rid of free-agent-to-be Jacoby Ellsbury? The inevitable divorce is coming closer by the day, but do you remember now just how much you argued for an early- or mid-season chance to get rid of this guy?
Well, he’s at .400 with 10 runs scored and five knocked in and six stolen bases in 10 post-season games. He’s on base more than twice a game, on a lineup where everyone else is Sam Beckett.
Admit it, Red Sox fan. You are very close to thinking, ‘Wow, how could I let this man slip away.’ If this keeps up, even if you don’t want to pony up $20 million a year to keep him, you may want to get Jacoby and Agent Scott Boras to come with you to relationship counseling.
6. The Sox have talent. For all the talk about beards and pulling for one another (and on one another’s face), a big key to the entire story is that there’s a lot of talent in that dugout, used correctly by a competent manager.
7. The Sox will win the World Series in seven games, although I’d love to witness the havoc and mayhem of a Halloween Game Seven – less because I want to see people dressed up in the stands at Fenway as because I want to see suburban parents trying to hose down their trick-or-treaters and get them into bed so they can watch the game.
There are some good reasons to pick either team, but I have an overwhelming reason to pick the Sox: I don’t know anyone in St. Louis.
I know lots of Boston Sox fans.
Dave Rattigan is host of The View from the Lone Red Seat, with co-hosts Chris Mascaro and Bob Lazzari, a podcast on the Seamheads Podcasting Network.