August 23, 2010

There’s something both precious and timeless about watching baseball played at Fenway Park when late August and September come around that I’ve always loved. Whether it be from Massachusetts, Kentucky, or Arizona, you can always count on afternoon baseball being played amidst ever-lengthening shadows that encroach the field, first enveloping the right field stands, then the infield, then the pitcher’s mound, then finally the batter’s box area as the sun’s angle tells you that neither the baseball season nor you are as young and fresh and full of promise as you were just six short months ago. The season is coming down to the last month, the days and the number of games dwindling to dozens, and the marathon slowly becomes a sprint to the finish.

It’s during this time of year – if you’re a Red Sox fan, that is – that as much attention must be paid to the out-of-town scoreboard (isn’t that a lovely baseball phrase?) as to the game being played in front of you, for the last full week of August finds the Red Sox in a rather precarious position: 6 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees, and 5 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays and that precious wild card slot. It’s especially precarious because right the Sox have little margin for error – time is not on their side – and, while neither the Yankees nor the Rays are showing any kind of dominance, the standings have pretty much been the same for a while now.

While Nick Carfardo is right – you can’t count the Sox out yet, especially in a year where there are no dominant teams, in either league – the fact of the matter is, the Sox simply cannot lose any more ground; in fact, they need to start making up some ground by putting a meaningful winning streak together, if only to get the Yankees and Rays to start paying attention to their rear-view mirrors. For better or for worse, if the Sox are to accomplish this, they’re going to have to do it with the odd mix of replacements and youngsters they’ve gone with all year – infielder Bill Hall, outfielder Darnell McDonald, and, since mid-July, veteran Mike Lowell and youngsters like pitcher Felix Doubront and outfielder Ryan Kalish, both of which have provided more than a few sparks of promise. There’s no way the Sox can replace the loss of on-field leaders Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury – all of which are lost for the rest of the year – they’re just going to have to make do.

I’ve been pretty hard on the Sox this year for the lack of excitement the product they’ve put out, both on the field and off (is it just me, or has long-time fan favorite Jerry Remy really lost it as an informative and entertaining color analyst beside Don Orsillo?), but the fact is, they haven’t warranted the attention they have in past years. The games drone on, sometimes interminably, without any real passion or excitement anywhere. Nevertheless, if you look beneath the surface, getting the Kalishes, Dubronts, (infielder Jeff) Lowries, and (pitcher Michael) Bowdens big-league experience in a pennant race like this is going to pay dividends down the line (if not this off-season), so all a fan can do is watch and see how close they can get.

The important thing this year, more than any other year in recent memory, is to get to the playoffs any which way you can. Without any dominant teams, the team that can get in and get hot at the same time has a damned good chance at becoming World Series champion. In these next five weeks, we’ll see if the Sox can bring some excitement to, what has been at least to this point, a rather dull and colorless season.

Pool temp: 92 gegrees

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 00:10 | Comments Off on Scoreboard Watching
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