Suddenly, after a 2-10 start, not only are the Red Sox 24-20, but they’re ahead of the Yankees.
Despite all the assertions from the likes of Joel Sherman that the Yankees missed out on an opportunity to “separate” from the Red Sox at the start of the 3-game series last week, there was no chance of one team burying the other.
They’re both good teams. The Red Sox happen to be better and deeper, but the Yankees will play better than the dysfunctional, overpaid, slow and tired group they’ve appeared to be over the last week.
Altered states of belief are par for the course from Sherman, Mike Francesa and other Yankees fans/apologists/media members; it has little to do with reality.
The reality is this: the Red Sox were a large collection of well-compensated talent that needed time to grow accustomed to one another.
Was their atrocious start a byproduct of this?
Does it really matter?
The Red Sox are playing well now; they’re scoring and getting good pitching which was the intention when they made that flurry of big and expensive maneuvers to bolster their lineup and pitching staff.
What should be of great concern to the Yankees is that Carl Crawford and Dustin Pedroia haven’t heated up yet and will. For the Yankees, if he’s healthy, Alex Rodriguez is going to start bashing; so is Nick Swisher; but the same can’t be expected of Derek Jeter or Jorge Posada; in addition to their pitching woes, the Yankees are faced with the prospect of needing to look for a bat. And teams are not going to be lining up to help the Yankees.
What was ailing the Red Sox shouldn’t have been unexpected. There’s an article in the May issue of Fast Company that discusses the Miami Heat as they’ve navigated their way around having three superstars in their lineup on a team for whom anything less than a championship—then multiple championships—would be a disappointment.
There are obvious practical differences between basketball and baseball. In basketball, no one can function by himself in any way aside from at the foul line—it’s a team sport, period. Baseball is an individual sport in a team concept.
But that doesn’t diminish the relevance of and necessity for teamwide cohesiveness.
When there are such drastic changes made, there are bound to be upheavals. With a new first baseman (Adrian Gonzalez); a shift of Kevin Youkilis to third base; a new left fielder (Crawford); and a catcher in Jarrod Saltalamacchia with whom it’s taking a long time for the pitchers to grow comfortable in his calling of the games, there are many pieces of a complicated puzzle that have to fit together.
As long as a competent front office doesn’t panic, talent will win out most of the time as long as the talent is still there. There are circumstances in which this is not the case; it could be due to the aforementioned penchant to “do something” when leaving things alone is the best course of action; and there are situations of lax leadership and veteran players bagging the season at the first sign of struggle.
The Red Sox have proven they are not a team that quits. If the 2004 comeback from being down 3-0 in the ALCS wasn’t proof, last year’s injury-decimated squad that still somehow managed to win 89 games in the torturous American League East was a better example.
If you thought you’d seen the last of the Red Sox after that 2-10 start; that they were going to have “one of those seasons” in which grand expectations yielded a horrific result, then you’re a baseball-ignorant fool and you deserve your fate.
Sort of like Joel Sherman and Mike Francesa.
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