Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Back in Black

Well it's been quite a first half, hasn't it? Red Sox Nation has seen comebacks, blow ups, knee scopes, sheath tears, beard shaves, inside the parkers, outside the parkers, and of course, lots and lots of errors. We've watched it all with a modicum of patience, but when the junk has hit the fan, more often than not, so have our angered fists. The record isn't good, but it isn't all that bad either, and even the most pessimistic of fans have to feel comfortable about Wild Card competitors like Texas and Chicago. Right now though, that doesn't make a whole lot of difference. Right now we're having trouble forgetting the pre-4th massacre in New York, the disgusting 3 of 9 in Colorado, San Francisco, and Minnesota, and the overall mediocrity since May 1st. It's not just that their potential has gone unfulfilled, although that has been a hoot, it's that this hasn't been any damn fun. Yes, fans watch because they want their team to succeed, but they also want something much simpler: a good time. They want to relax on a Tuesday night when the other options are CSI: Dayton and Gay Black Alien Bachelor. They want to see a team to root for, that shows spirit and pleasure in 2-1 wins and 8-4 losses. The Red Sox have not been that, and we're starting to worry that maybe they never will.

Last night, Boston destroyed the A's. Two players that hold a great deal of Boston's future in their bats, Bill Mueller and Kevin Millar, both had big nights. It has become evident that Damon, Manny, and Ortiz are all going to contribute daily, and we won't really know where to look for back up. Game 1 against Oakland should have served as an inspirational retort to that dilemma, but The Ninth remains skeptical. And I have a pretty good feeling you do too. We've learned not to trust these Sox, and not in the usual "Sure, they get your hopes up now, but in September they'll break your heart again" Boston way, but in the "Tuesday was fun, I bet Wednesday sucks" way they do things in Detroit. These Red Sox are Vin Baker in stirrups: Day to mother f'n Day. There are really only two options. Either this is the worst stretch of the season, or they're a bad team. That's it. When Bill Simmons suggests that this year has been both a disaster and the happiest of his Red Sox life, I think he took one too many "writing sessions" with Adam Carolla. There is no happiest here, no good and bad, no ying and yang. This has been ying, ying, a bit more ying, and then finally, some more ying. We've been watching a very good team play not very well and waiting for that to change -- and it's been a few fireworks short of the 4th. Hey, maybe they'll pull it off. 81 games is forever, and when God invented easy months even he didn't plan on something like the Red Sox August. But until I see it, I will not believe it. There will be no exciting trades or thrilling acquisitions. They'll have to turn it around with what they've got now, and all that really entails is playing as good as (gasp) they're capable of. We all know they're better, we're just getting a little tired of waiting for them to show it.

So spare me the 11-0's followed by the 7-2 losses. I've seen it, I know what it looks like, and I don't want to see it again. Show me an 11-0, followed by a 4-1 Pedro win, rounded out by a nice Curt Schilling shutout. That's right, I want a sweep. Haven't I earned it? Haven't we all? And then, maybe then, after we've seen a decisive display of ball, will we think about having fun again. Because we're too sore and we're too tired to just give our affections away. There's still plenty of time to make 2004 a Season To Remember, but these Sox are going to have to earn it. Show us now, and we'll believe you later. Trust me, we want it as badly as you do.