For the first time since ’07, the Red Sox are kings of the toughest division in baseball.
Here’s what I said back in February this year:
“I’m typically on the optimistic side of the scale, and have come around to that same optimism RE: this season. The signings are solid, not splashy, but the worst gaps are essentially filled (we’ll see how long Napoli’s hip takes to explode, but that’s pretty much the same position the Yanks are in with Youk), and I think seeing this thing through and waiting for youth to take over in coming years is better than being financially frozen the way they were before the Punto et al trade (I felt good about that trade the day it was made, no waiting for optimism there). I have trouble really imagining the Sox getting above 86/87 wins, but if Farrell can steer Lester back to excellence and Lackey’s surgery gets him anywhere (goodness knows all the excuses haven’t), then maybe, maybe, maybe they can be in the hunt for the second wild card come September. These are the bounds of my optimism at the moment.”
My optimism’s bounds were obviously far short of reality. Thanks, reality! But the phrase that stands out here for me is “solid, not splashy”. Who had a career year this season? Nava. Carp (in 200 AB). Maybe Salty. Is that it? And yet here the Red Sox are, an MLB powerhouse with a stacked rotation and a steady, consistent lineup that chews into opposing pitchers’ pitch counts like Tito Francona chews whatever that wad of junk in his mouth is. Props to Farrell and Cherington, by the way (not necessarily in that order) for taking a decomposing corpse and breathing tremendous life into it.
I’m just over the moon that after the devastating heartbreak of 2011 and the death spiral of 2012, this is where the Sox get to be this year. I’m going to go ahead and say it: I’ve never had a more fun regular season. I don’t really expect to have such a one anytime soon, so I am savoring every moment now, and still dreaming big. Of best record in MLB, of 100 wins, of a deep postseason run. Planning a Top 10 games of the season post soon. Go Sox.