Back in March, the Nation seemed pretty much resigned to another indifferent season. Not, perhaps, as bad as the paltry 69 Ws of the Valentine hegemony, but the consensus – from Baseball Prospectus and ESPN to the most insignificant contributions to the blogosphere – was a season in which the Sox would be fortunate to raise itself out of the basement of the American League East.
My view was the opposite. I predicted (Season’s Greetings 28.03) that we would make the play-offs, although it would take some luck and maybe a couple of trades to take the Series.
At the All-Star break, 97 games into the season, we sit at .598 – the best record in the American League. What’s more, we have emerged from a tough road trip to the West Coast with a 5-5 record which could easily have been a winning trip had it not been for a couple of unfortunate events in Anaheim (about as bizarre a 9th inning loss as I’ve ever seen) and Oakland.
These things happen. That’s why we play 162 games in each regular season. Over the stretch, the cream rises to the top.
And right now, we’re top. With the Yankees 6 games back and Toronto, a majority choice for the ALE, 11.5 games back.
Collectively and individually, these Sox have confounded the critics and the pundits. How?
There are individual performances which are noteworthy: the new look Lackey, for example, the offence of Iglesias, the clutch performances of Gomes, the extraordinary work of Pedroia, the day-in-day-out work of the self-made Nava, the closing of Koji Uehara, and many others. These have compensated for the problems of Lester, the implosion of Bailey, the injuries to Drew, Ross, Buckholz and Miller – the latter just when he was looking assured in his role.
And there you have it. This Sox team is not a collection of individuals. It is a team. They work for each other. They give the impression of liking each other as much as we like them. There is a chemistry here which is reminiscent of the idiots of ’04. This is not a 25 cabs team; these guys eat together, play together.
That’s why it is invidious to single out any individual in this club. But I’m going to, anyway.
And that individual is John Farrell.
I was worried about his appointment. I was concerned about his experience and record at Toronto. And I thought he might be too close to the ancien régime of Tito and Theo.
I was wrong. Totally. Fundamentally.
I believe that he is responsible for the way in which these guys are performing. His calm, professional style of management is the reason why these Sox are genuine contenders this year. If there is chemistry in the park, he is the catalyst.
As we say in France, chapeau!
Today from the everysmith vault: the Dead, jamming with David Crosby and John Cippolina in Mickey Hart's barn in August 1971.