April is over, and it’s time to face the facts. The start to this year’s Red Sox season has been utterly and unmistakably average. It’s a word that’s faded from our lexicon in recent years, one that legions of younger Sox fans have never had to face.
I only say average because the team has managed to pull out a few close ones (against arguably not so great teams) in the last week. A lot of people were handing down harsher words around Patriot’s Day. A painful sweep by the Tampa Bay Rays left us with a pathetic 4–9 record, so the fact that we’ve rebounded to 10–11 makes this post slightly easier to write.
Still, struggling for a .500 record is not something I am used to seeing our golden team do. Sure, nothing’s ever a sure thing. I witnessed enough blown saves in my youth to realize a lead in baseball means very little. The name Aaron Boone still haunts me, even after two World Series wins helped wash away the dark mark he left on all our hearts.
Bottom line, this latest roster frightens us all. The holes are gaping and everywhere. Our pitching, our hitting, our base running, our inability to stop opponents from rampant base running. It’s all a sad, sloppy mess.
Seven out of 12 pitchers have an ERA over 5.00, which wouldn’t be as much of a problem if we were producing runs. I know stats don’t mean much this early on, but David Ortiz is boasting an average of .154. The man’s lone duty is to hit, and he has the lowest average of anyone on the team. The only upside of this debacle being more face time with Mike Lowell.
To be fair, I know I sound like one of those fools who’s already declared this season over and done with. A lost cause. Too depressing to watch. But you see, I only tear people down to build them back up.
The truth is we still have five months left of fight in us. We’ve proven we can win in the softer part of our schedule, however shoddy those wins have been. I’ve been to two games so far this year—and I was lucky enough to witness two wins. One of which was the April 20 game against Texas. The previously unknown Darnell McDonald stunned us all with a two-run homer in the eighth and a walk-off single in the ninth.
Whether this 31-year old from Colorado has staying power, I don’t know. But I do know he reminded me why I love the Red Sox. They can surprise you. It’s the no names who become big names that make Boston such an infectious team. With the inflated payroll and the calmer mentality since winning the 2004 World Series, we sometimes forget—but easy wins weren’t always in the stars for the Red Sox.
It took a team of Idiots to break a crippling curse for this diehard baseball town, and it’s going to take the same kind of passion to save us from the mediocrity we’re drowning in right now. I’m not sure if they will come, but I’ll be watching for the unlikely heroes in 2010.