The Red Sox are 20-13 right now, in a dead heat with the Yankees for first place. They have Pedro and Schilling throwing 2 of the next 5 games. They have achieved this record improbably, without two very important cogs. They have done this with a standout bullpen and reasonably good starting pitching, though without a dominant lights-out string of efforts, at least not yet. They have done this by beating the Yankees 6 of 7 (better than could have been expected), and by going 14-12 against the rest of the league (not quite as good as I expected). They have won games they should and could have lost (last Friday and tonight), but lost very few they should have won. They have a 20-13 record with a 5-game losing skid in the mix. They have done this with four extremely weak hitters in their lineup consistently. They have done this by playing Cesar Crespo (.163) in 22 games, Gabe Kapler (.247) in 27, Dave McCarty in 22 (.233), Mark Bellhorn (.229) in 30. They have done this with Trot and Nomar going a combined 0 for 0 with 0 homers, 0 RBI, 0 stolen bases, 0 diving catches, 0 diving stabs.
So there is very little reason to believe in a swoon, unless you also believe in curses, or unicorns, or the cyclops. A swoon would not be, to cite one of YF’s favorite lines of argument, outside the realm of standard deviation. Teams often lose, and also lose a bunch in a row. But a prolonged nosedive would also come, to this poster, as a great surprise. If Yankees fans are assuming such a swoon for no other reason than because we are talking about the Red Sox, then I am emboldened – It means that the Red Sox are far scarier than they have been in the past. The Red Sox have been bridesmaids the past five years for some very clear reasons: the Yankees were better managed, more stacked with talent, better assembled, deeper from 1-9 and in the bullpen. But this year that’s not in play. This year, I expect claims from those visiting the Bronx of an inevitable Red Sox collapse, not based on an advantage of talent or better tactics, but solely based on the supernatural. That’s a step up, for a Red Sox fan. This time, there’s no real solid circumstantial reason to expect the BoSox to falter to their division mates. “Curses” is the cry of a nation of scared Yankees fans, not the proclamation of Bombers supporters who truly believe that their team is better, deeper, more talented, or more intimidating.