A song to play while reading about the Red Sox: I honestly never understood the appeal of “Theme Song to New York, New York” until it became the Red Sox’ preferred way to troll the Yankees.
I’m an asshole, and for my own sanity, the Red Sox can’t win another World Series this year.
I had a running joke with a friend last baseball season about how the Red Sox, no matter how large of a lead they had for the best record in the league, were very seldom atop ESPN’s power rankings. Even throughout the playoffs, as the Sox rolled through the Yankees and Astros and into the World Series, they couldn’t crack through. The day after Chris Sale corkscrewed Manny Machado into the Dodgers Stadium’s righty batters box, the first thing my friend texted me was a link to ESPN’s updated power rankings which and – I promise this is true – had the Red Sox fourth. Less than four months later, the exact same thing happened to the New England Patriots after their Super Bowl win.
I got to watch the greatest Red Sox team of my life – hell, in history – and yet I’m whining about a group of writers at ESPN not quite giving them the due I believed they deserved. And yet every single time the new ESPN power rankings came out and I rushed to read it through only to find that they had again dropped the Sox in the rankings, I felt a twinge of anger. Because I’m an asshole.
When the Patriots won the Super Bowl less than two months ago, I still hadn’t gotten around to storing away my Red Sox 2018 World Series champions hat from October. I literally keep my collection of 12 (twelve!) championship hats in a trash bag in my closet because I ran out of room on my hat rack. I’ve defended my teams through more “-gate”s than I can count. I have sports affluenza.
Because I’m an asshole.
But I’m getting better.
After 26 years of life spent celebrating four World Series wins, six Super Bowls, one NBA Finals, and one Stanley Cup, I’ve finally reached peak winning. Craig Kimbrel remains unsigned; the Patriots have lost half their roster to free agency; the Celtics have sleep-walked through an entire regular season, and yet I remain unfazed. I’m sure it’ll be okay. Barnes or Brasier or some AA reliever who even Dave Dombrowski hasn’t yet heard of will be fine in the closer role; the Patriots will draft a receiver and sign an unheralded defensive lineman and patch it all together; Brad Stevens, Kyrie Irving, and the Celtics’ young players will flip the switch and finally figure it all out together.
It’s going to be fine. And if it’s not, well, I’ll be okay. Someday these are all going to be average, boring teams who feel lucky to reach the playoffs. And unless I want to become a homeless old man telling any 20-something who will listen to me that all of the Boston sports teams were utterly dominant in my younger days, I have recognize their fallibility and make peace with it. Because I’m getting better.
I’m here to say, dear reader, that this is too much winning. I don’t deserve this. We don’t deserve this. No one does! Give Cleveland some championships. Buffalo. Minnesota. Milwaukee. Toronto. Have you ever been to San Diego? All that sunshine deserves at least one ring.
Boston’s the city that gave you Barstool Sports, Dan Shaughnessy, the word “frappe,” and an accent that even Britain’s best actors have yet to master. We don’t deserve another championship.
So when the Red Sox go 13-13 in June and Mookie Betts has a week where his OPS+ isn’t above 150 and Chris Sale feels an ache in his shoulder and we’re all freaking out all seems lost … remind me that I’m getting better.
Because I’m an asshole.
Win total prediction: 95
What is the Red Sox’ most recent accomplishment?
You’re expecting me to say they won the World Series, but I’m here to tell you the answer is actua … I can’t keep that up. Of course it’s that they won the World Series. They’ll also be returning to the field in 2019 with their Series-winning roster almost impossibly intact, another year of experience for their young position players, a surprisingly deep starting rotation, and a whole mess of mediocre relievers (which in 2019 is the same as a whole mess of maybe-incredible relievers).
How do the Red Sox define success in 2019?
The obvious answer here is “World Series win or bust,” because the only way to one-up a title is with another one, but I’d be pretty satisfied with an ALCS appearance.
The most Effectively Wild player on the Red Sox: Mookie Betts
That’s AL MVP Mookie Betts. He’s everything the consummate Effectively Wild player, Mike Trout, is, except about 5% short. (Maybe 15% short if we’re talking height.) He put up a 186 OPS+ last year with 32 home runs and 30 steals, and led the league in bWAR despite only appearing in 136 games. He’s the less-swole Trout, already halfway to a Hall of Fame career by the numbers, and if the Angels’ centerfielder’s new contract extension is any indication, he’s probably going to sign his next deal for somewhere not too far south of half a billion dollars.
If he could throw a wicked hook – combining Mookie’s bowling skills and Brian Bannister’s Brian Bannisterness, I wouldn’t put it past him – he would be the ultimate Effectively Wild player.
2019 promo worth the price of admission
September 4th is Peanuts night at Fenway Park, and the blurb on RedSox.com states the following:
“Join us on Wednesday, September 4, as we celebrate as one of the most popular comic strip of all-time, ‘Peanuts’. This ticket package includes a ticket to the game against the Twins as well as a limited edition bobblehead of Woodstock in a Red Sox uniform! Be sure to add this to your ‘Peanuts’ bobblehead collection!”
Just like that I’m fully committed to building a “Peanuts” bobblehead collection. I’ll be there on this September 4th for Woodstock, and the next September 4th for Red Baron Snoopy, and the next September 4th for Lucy and the football, and the next September 4th for the Great Pumpkin.
The runner up, by the way, is April 25th, Star Wars night. The collectible is a figurine of the Millennium Falcon flying over Fenway Park, which is now officially canon.
…and finally, a haiku for 2019
Please No More Nuñez Next post: Season Preview Series 2019: Washington Nationals
Let’s Go Dustin Pedroia
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