Thursday, September 25, 2008

Red Sox Clinch: Why Are We Not More Excited?

Shame on me for not getting this up sooner. It truly demonstrates that we Boston sports fans are getting too lackadaisical in our passion for our sport's teams when our team makes the playoffs and we can't even take the time to do a quick celebratory blog post about it. I guess that's what two World Series wins, three Super Bowl wins (four appearances) and an NBA Championship in the span of seven years will do to you.

Rewinding to that last statement, I'm thinking that maybe our seeming complacency has less to do with being lackadaisical and more about high expectations for our local teams. Thinking back to the early eighties, I remember many Boston Celtic sports fans waiting until late February/early March to really check into the season. It wasn't because they didn't love the Celtics but rather they expected that they would be in the playoffs. In fact, they assumed that anything short of making it to the finals was a disappointment. That may come off as arrogant or detached but it's a reality. I believe it's one of the main reasons we as Red Sox fans have hated Yankee fans and Cowboy fans so much in the past. By the way, we're obviously starting to inspire some of this same hate in other fans (thanks to friend, Adam Cohen, for passing this along).

With all that said, I am very excited that the Sox are in the playoffs. It's been a little bit of an odd season as some of the posts on this blog have noted. The season opening in Japan and then pausing for a few west coast exhibition games was a weird start. Then we seem to have hit a disproportionate number of west coast games early on (I'm an early-to-bedder most nights so I can't stay up until 1:00 AM watching those games). Plus, the Sox seemed to be in cruise control most of the season in spite of the Rays besting them in August and September. Still, this is the fifth time in six years the boys from Beantown have been to the post season and I'm thrilled.

The big question now is how will we fare? Personally, I'm a little nervous but feeling better every day. Getting JD Drew back into the lineup last night was huge. More important is nursing Lowell back to a quasi-healthy state. I think we'll end up missing Manny's "clutchedness" in some of the big at bats but it seems like Youk and Pedroia are starting to fill some of that need. Also, Ellsbury is coming on at the right time. Pitching is mostly good and with the addition of Masterson to the core bullpen team, it seems like we're finding some stability beyond just Papelbon in the late innings.

There's no doubt that the Angels will be tougher this year than in years past. The Sox dropping eight out of nine to them this year is testiment to that fact. The Rays are also a force to be reckoned with although I'll be interested to see how they do in their first year ever in the playoffs. As we've seen in the past, having "been there" before matters more than ever in October although we've seen another team from Florida win twice over the last 12 years in spite of being a "rookie" team.

So ladies and gentlemen, stock up your refrigerators and your snack cabinets and grab your remotes. Hopefully we're in for a long ride over the next several weeks. Any predictions for a Manny vs. Ortiz world series?

Photo credit: Moon Battery

11 comments:

eyebleaf said...

cheers on the link! glad you could take the post for what it was: me just having some fun at the expense of your ball club...

good luck in the playoffs and, man, an ortiz vs ramirez world series would be INSANE

KFFBOS said...

Interesting thoughts Aaron. Living in Boston for 30+ years I know how are inundated by the Sox...you can't get a way from it. When they started this dynastic run it got bigger and bigger...and at the same time it became overload (and I haven't even mentioned my slightly preferred sport of football).

This year it came to a head for the Sox and fans because of a few things our attention waned:
1) They are winning consistently;
2) There is too much media;
3) It has become harder to actually go to the games;
4) I'm personally sick and tired of Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo;
5) Heidi Watney entered our lives;
6) The Yankees became irrelevant as an organization;
7) Nobody really thought the Rays would continue this amazing run;
8) Heidi Watney;
9) We all focused so much on Manny and when it was done much of the drama left with him;
10) We are spoiled, spoiled brats;

That being said I spend most of this season in Austin and certainly the past 60 days. I will say I'm now much more hungry for the Sox. I love logging onto MLB.tv to watch the games or talking over the team with Bryan. I'm pumped beyond belief for the playoffs and feel as if it's 2003/4 all over again!!

Absence makes the heard grow fonder?

/kff

Adawg said...

@eyelbleaf you're a good sport man. thanks for commenting. Again, peed my pants reading your post.

@kffbos aka Kyle Flaherty - nice top 20 list. To be honest, I'm feeling a little like 2003/04 again too. It's not a done deal but we've got all the pieces. It should be a great October and maybe, just maybe if we can make it all the way to the "Fall Classic", the NL will put up a legitimate fight this year (sorry Jordan's Furniture customers).

Doug Haslam said...

I think the main reason for the big *yawn* is that we have gotten used to winning. Add to that the fact we clinched a wildcard, not the division-- and it looks like we won't get the division. When do you celebrate? making the playoffs has been a done deal for weeks. *Yawn* Playoffs starting will cure that.

As for the playoffs, every time people write off the Rays they come back and kick butt. don;t rule them out of advancing to the LCS.

We traditionally get the Angels' October goat, but they really scare the hell out of me this year. They have been a machine, and we have been unable to beat them. As Hellboy says, "Aw, Crap."

But-- bring it on! I llike the way the team looks:

Starting pitching-- aces, when the only argument is the 4th slot, you;re looking good. Byrd over Wake?

Bullpen, inconsistent at times this year,m but some good arms and will probably be rested. Only to-do item is someone needs to kidnap Mike Timlin.

Lineup? I'm missing Manny, but Papi is heating up, Drew is back (I hope), and Bay has been quietly spectacular. Youk and Pedroia are co-team MVPs and Ellsbury and Coco bring speed and hit enough. Bottom of the lineup is a worry, but Tek's catching makes up for things.

Bench? We don't need no stinkin' bench in the playoffs, but let's remember that the Mayor, Sean Casey, waits in the wings and Kotsay can swomg a bat ok.

I feel ok about the playoffs- just would like to get past K-Rod and the Angels.

adamcohen said...

Nice post Aaron. I may be 'against the grain' here but for me it never gets old. Some of the quirkiness that fueled @eyebleaf's (hilarious and well written) post is what makes the Red Sox continually endearing to fans. From dirt dawgs, to Cowboy up, to shots in the clubhouse, to that "rat" on Youk's face - it's right in the face of the clean cut pinstripes and make them 'our team' in Boston. I still get anxious when they are on the verge of losing, and there's still a 'sting' to remind us on occasion (like the loss in 14 innings a few weeks ago) how grateful we should be to not be "Loserville" anymore.

Another way I'm just as excited as before is sharing it with my kids - they all were too young to get it in 2004, and only the oldest got it last year.

Kyle - great top 10 list. One in there I disagree with: I'm not sick of Don & Jerry at all - I haven't seen one broadcast team yet (Fox, ESPN) that has come close. Swap that one out for Heidi Watney and the list will be complete.

Hopefully the playoffs bring it all together just as Beckett hits his stride, Papelbon's arrogance becomes his best weapon, Papi reaches his old form, and Youk/MVPedroia/Ellsbury peak. It's going to be an exciting few weeks either way.

Adawg said...

Man, see what happens when you get a bunch of bloggers to comment on your post? you get several additional mini-posts. I LOVE it. Fantastic points all around.

Aaron | @astrout

Francine McKenna said...

Sorry Aaron. I can't comment. I'm more excited about the White Sox and they are not excited enough about me to win more. Fortunately I have blogger friends who are excited about me instead to make up for the White Sox inattention.

KFFBOS said...

Adam, I agree that there are probably no better tandems in MLB on national broadcasts, but there are some really good ones on local levels. I actually listen to the visitor feed now on MLB.tv and I would say, after five months of watching a LOT of baseball, that the local folks for the Cardinals, Astros, Cubs and Giants are better than Don/Remy. Of course, this is IMHO.

Here's the thing though, most of my angst is actually with Remy. I don't find his commentary insightful, he's constantly hacking up a lung on the air and I'm so happy to have to see his Sovreign Bank ads any longer.

All that being said, talk with me next spring after having been out of Boston for more than a few months and I may be crying for those two ;)

Now onto the real question...who is your 4th pitcher in the Playoffs? I have to say Wakefield and put Byrd in the bullpen.

And Doug, when you kidnap Timlin, can you grab Lugo as well, just to be 100% sure we never see him play again?

adamcohen said...

Hey Kyle - Good point re: national vs local coverage. I haven't watched any local coverage outside of Boston so I really wouldn't know. Maybe I gotta pick up a MLB.TV account for when I'm on the road next year.

For Wake/Byrd, I think both make the roster. Whoever starts is based on matchups, the other becomes a long reliever. (nod to baseballprospectus.com, I agree with them). I could see Timline being left off completely.

Here is a good discussion about the whole lineup:

http://sonsofsamhorn.net/index.php?showtopic=37098&st=0

Warren said...

So it seems like the consensus is the habitual winning and the Yankees not making it a contest has caused us to lose our sense of excitement. Maybe so, but come October, I'm sure it will be back in a heartbeat. Personally, I'd like to see another Mets - Sox series, but the way the Mets are playing they will probably choke over the next 3 days and not even make the play-offs.

And Kyle as far as broadcasters go, 3 years in Seattle listening to Dave Niehaus, Rick Rizzs, and Mike Blowers will make even Ned Martin sound good.

Andy said...

I was at the Cleveland game on Monday night(the first chance at clinching the wildcard). Down one run in the 9th inning, a segment of fans headed for the exits. This never would have happened before winning became routine in Boston. Nothing will match the excitement of the 2003/2004 playoff series. Well...maybe a Red Sox/Dodgers World Series in 2008...
this is how I envision it.