I kind of feel like I'm beating a dead horse here, but I felt compelled to look at the trend of this season again.
I don't have the email to back it up but midway through last season, even though we were positioned for a division title, Jon and I both were thinking about how we were going to get the wild card. A big reason why that turned into a division title is the Yankees downfall. Had the Yankees performed the way they have in recent years, (which is what they are doing this year), our 97 win season would have earned us a wild card in last year's post season.
To most people that would paint this September in a much different light. Currently Boston's winning percentage is right at where it was for the 2008 season as a whole. So really what we are seeing from Boston isn't much different than what we were up against last year. Yes there is a different mix of productivity (Ellsbury and Bay are a little better this year, Pedroia and Ortiz are a little worse), but the end result on the field (SO FAR) doesn't appear much different.
Take a look at the records by month this season. Toss April aside and the Rays and Red Sox are dead even. Exact same number of wins from May on.
But this year we are seeing lower draws at the gate for critical late season games, the press bitching about it, and our owner talking to media in tones that suggest we're inadequate this year.
Really what it comes down to is that ridiculous April that we had. Many attributed it to all the October baseball from last year. I don't have the evidence to prove it but theories abound regarding World Series teams and slow starts the following year. In our division that is crippling. The guy we just traded which has caused so much uproar had a lot to do with that slow start.
I honestly don't know what my point is, but it seems like everyone is acting like this team is a shadow of itself from last year, when in reality, it probably isn't much different. Our real problem happened in April, which depending on who you want to believe was bound to happen. It is just really irritating to hear gasbag announcers on ESPN talk shit about the Rays, ESPN showing "Red Sox stock up, Rays plummeting", and other nonsensical bullshit that is being shoveled our direction. Last night I heard Rick Sutcliffe going on and on about how Carlos Pena would have been cut by the Rays if his contract wasn't so big. I turned to the local broadcast to hear Dwayne Staats answering a viewer question about team MVP by saying "Well Bartlett, Crawford and Zobrist are the three front runners, but you can't really ignore the huge contribution from Pena this year". The guy leads the league in home runs, and walks but Rick Sutcliffe's sorry ass wants to cut him. It's been pretty fucking even since May 1, and the Yankees are having a more realistic season this year. That is why we are 5 back, (4 if things go our way tonight).
Smart baseball fans weren't hitting the panic button in April when the Rays went 2-5 in their first home stand of the season (which ironically included a big fucking pregame celebration before every game for something that happened last year), and followed that up with the turd sandwich road trip in which we went 3-6 against the A's, Twins, and Mariners. But looking back, that may have been when we killed our chances. We're keeping pace, but the competition isn't the Marlins and Braves. Life in the AL East.
Folks, I'm sorry but this is about as good as it is going to get.