Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Those Neon Lights Are Bright

Sometimes, as the song goes, I just happen to like New York. Savor the flavor of the New York Post, the Daily News, and the NYT collectively losing their dignity. A lot better than corn flakes in the morning, I'll tell you that.

So here's the question: what if this is as good as it gets? The Red Sox have essentially just equaled a stretch the Yankees put together earlier this year. After being swept by Boston in late April, New York won each of their next 8 and 30 of the following 40. That's when things started to get ugly. Boston wasn't playing all that badly, (nor, it should be said, all that well) but they seemed to be falling improbably behind the Bombers. Soon enough their deficit got into the 7 and 8 game territory and no matter how early it was, the division had to realistically be conceded. It's just too improbable to come back from such things, no matter how much time is left. But now, as we have all seen, the improbable has happened. The Red Sox have won their last 7 in a row and 26 of the previous 36. And despite New York's delicious 22-0 failure on Tuesday night, they aren't playing all that badly of late either, but, as it turns out, just badly enough to let a steaming Boston back in. So what does this mean? Have the Red Sox finally become the juggernaut they were destined to be? Now that Boston has tossed away a disgruntled superstar for two solid "ballplayer" types, are they ready to end their nine year absence from the AL East throne? Is 2004 our 1978? The Ninth's answer: who cares.

Just as the Yankees aren't a .750 team because of May, neither is Boston one due to August. Just because one streak is happening now and the other happened 3 months ago, that doesn't make it any more significant. What both the Yankees and Red Sox have proven is that they are very good teams that are capable of playing like championship ones. And that's valuable information, especially for fans in Boston who, until recently, had no real belief their club could do that. It was sensed, but not known. The tails to that head however, is that each can also be .500 when they feel like it. So where does that leave us? The Sox have not miraculously become the American League powerhouse because of a few roster moves and a nice schedule. They're on a hot streak, just as the Yankees were earlier. And the valuable thing about it is that they've cancelled each other out, making the standings tight. But it does not matter because of a rivalry. It's not important because it's fun to see New York papers point at a falling sky. And it's definitely not of note because Georgey Fats is going to squirm. It matters because it doubles Boston's playoff chances. Two weeks ago the Red Sox had one opportunity to play in October, now they have two.

Would it feel better to enter the postseason with our heels digging into Yankee backs? Yeah, I suppose. But I don't know about you guys, I just want to get in. Because if you get in, you can win. What excites The Ninth about the month of August is that the Red Sox have become very good. Not legendary, but good enough. These aren't the 2001 Depressions, they're a real baseball team, and one capable of dominance. And The Ninth for one is far more concerned with dominating our way to the World Series than I am with dominating the ridiculous Yankees. And I reiterate, what if this is as good as it gets? What if Boston keeps on their streak and blows past New York, wins the division, then gets dropped by Minnesota in the opening round. You guys cool with that? Is that enough for you? "Hey, we got beat earlier than last year, but we sure showed those Yankees hu? Man do they look funny. Wanna watch the Pats?" No way. That's not good enough. I want the World Series, and what the Yankees have to do with that, for me, is unimportant. Beat 'em now, beat 'em later, miss 'em all together - I don't give a cah. I want to win on October 31st, September 31st is for sissies (apologies to sissies). You know what matters about 1978? Not that the Yankees won the AL East, but that they took the whole damn thing. The Ninth knows now that this team can do that, and so do you. So let's focus on what matters, and leave the silliness to the jokers in New York. They're better at it anyway.