Rantings and ravings from an admitted fan (as in fanatic!) of the Boston Red Sox. Updated only occasionally, but with my take on recent developments in Red Sox Nation. Updated more frequently during the end of the regular season and playoffs (hopefully).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Too good to be true?

You might think after two titles in four years that a fan of the Red Sox would stop being paranoid and just enjoy the success, but after an 86-year drought, you'd be forgiven for holding on to feelings of anxiety about the Sox' chances.

But the way the team is playing, it's almost too good to be true. There have been a couple of instances this season where I thought a game was lost, but the Sox found a way to pull out a victory (two games in Cleveland come to mind), and a few escapes in the four-game sweep of Texas over the weekend also qualify, especially Sunday's comeback.

But last night's series opener against those Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was the biggest example yet. On a night when Josh Beckett was scratched from his scheduled start with a neck problem, and both Jason Varitek and Manny Delcarmen were out with the flu, all signs pointed to a rough night at Fenway.

The Sox called up David Pauley from Pawtucket to take Beckett's start, and the Angels quickly figured out that if they wait for the sinker-baller to get a pitch up, they were in business. It didn't look good.

But Jacoby Ellsbury hit two home runs, and the Sox rallied for a 7-6 victory in a game they probably should have lost. Too good to be true? Maybe. But this team is so solid, words like "dynasty" are starting to creep into my mind. With Big Papi in an early-season slump and Mike Lowell on the DL -- not to mention the fact that Curt Schilling might not pitch an inning this year -- the Sox have found a way to grab first place in the loaded AL East. Will the other shoe ever drop? Should I even be thinking about that? The way this team is playing and the "embarrassment of riches" success tell me that I should not.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Championship rings, Buckner

It was a great day at Fenway yesterday. Opening Day, the sun was shining, and the Sox picked up their championship rings from the '07 title.

But the big headline of the day, for me, was the long-overdue return of one Bill Buckner. The "goat" of the 1986 World Series threw out the first pitch (to my boyhood hero, Dwight Evans), and got a warm ovation from the Fenway crowd.

My reaction: it's about damn time!!!

It's easy to forgive and forget Buckner after the glory of two titles in the past four seasons, but I ask why it took two titles and 22 years for this to happen? I was as upset as anyone on that October night in 1986 when Mookie Wilson's grounder went through Buckner's legs to end Game 6, but ... THIS JUST IN ... Buckner did not cost the team the world series! The fact that he has been villified, ostracized, and (of his own doing) banished out west is just plain wrong. There is a long laundry list of things that cost the Sox Game 6 against the Mets, among them:

  • Clemens asking (depending on who you believe) to come out of the game becuase of a sore finger

  • Bob Stanley's wild pitch

  • The above-mentioned steamer not covering the bag, so they probably wouldn't have gotten the speedy Mookie Wilson anyway at first

  • This was Game 6 -- people forget they had a LEAD in Game 7

  • And last, but certainly not least, is the biggest one of all. Manager John McNamara not using Dave Stapleton as a defensive replacement at first base as he had done ALL SEASON. That's right, Buckner shouldn't have even been in the game at that point. His bad knees, and the fact that Stapes was just a better defensive player overall should have all contributed to McNamara sticking with his game plan and putting in Stapleton.

But alas, all that could have gone wrong did go wrong, and the title was lost, leaving us 18 more years of misery to suffer as a Nation. All that being said, it STILL wasn't Buckner's fault.

I'm so glad he returned to Fenway, and judging from his emotional news conference you can tell that the events of 1986 still haunt him. The guy was an unbelievable player, and you could argue that the Sox wouldn't have made the '86 series without him.

It's sad that it took all this success to welcome him back with open arms, but at least it's done. Welcome back, Billy Buck!