That beeping noise you hear is the sound of the Red Sox backing into the playoffs. Before the Sox left Baltimore last week, their magic number was seven, and all of Red Sox Nation (your pessimist author included) figured that the Sox would sew up this playoff thing before leaving The New Toilet and heading back to Fenway. When they entered the Bronx, the magic number was three, and the Sox had to figure that they’d win at least one game, get some help from the Rangers, and head home as the AL Wild Card selection.
But another sweep at the hands of the MFY, not to mention Jon Lester giving all of us a freaking heart-attack with that line drive he took off his quad (how that wasn’t his knee, I’ll never know), followed by two straight losses at home against the Jays of Canadia, and it doesn’t really feel like a time to celebrate. Plus, it doesn’t really feel like a playoff birth if Paps doesn’t wear a Natty Light box on his head in public. Maybe he did in the closed-clubhouse celebration that took place at 1AM EDT when the Angels knocked off the Rangers, but since the stadium was empty, no fans got to enjoy the spraying of champagne.
Look, the 2009 Red Sox are a good team. You don’t make the playoffs if you’re a bad, or mediocre team (the 2006 Cardinals excluded). The Sox can have dominant pitching if Lester, Beckett and Buchholz are on top of their games. They have power with Youks, Bay and Papi. They get on base with Pedey, Drew and V-Mart. They’ve got speed with Jacoby and Lowell. (wait, scratch that last one.) And they can close out games with Oki, Wagner and Paps. But in this last week they’re not clicking. And momentum the reason why one of the Wild Card teams has been in the World Series in seven of the last 10 years. So even though the Sox have nothing to play for in the next five games, it’d still be nice to see them try just enough to get those competitive juices flowing. Because you know the The Angeles Angels of Anaheim are going to be foaming at the mouth for a rematch of 2008 and 2007…and 2004 (oh, and don’t forget 1986!).
But even with all that said, congrats Sox. You played through a rough season of injuries and John Smoltz starts and are still going to be playing in October for the third straight season. Pop a couple of bottles of champagne, cause you deserve it.