Saturday, August 13, 2005

What's A Sportswriter to Do?

Amidst the sea of plenty, have pity on the Lords of the 4th Estate, our noble and esteemed colleagues from the print media (i.e. the people Joe Sportsfan actually reads).

Day after day, year after year, losing campaign after another their task was to humiliate and decry the performance of Ye Olde Towne Team. The World Series wasn't a panacea, but fortunately the Sox continued to provide grist for the ink-stained mill. There's Terry's pectoral pain, Curt's talus troubles, the Foulkester's failures, and so on.

Of course, over the long baseball season, there is no end to the travails that any organization will endure. If you don't have enough of your own, then there's always steroids, especially used by the Lying Liars (Rafael P., that's you), managers to jettison (pity poor Pena), or you can even cross sports to dump on Terrell Owens.

But we digress, let's look at where the Sox stand, 5 games up on the Yankees, with 48 games to play, 26 at home, where they have the second best record in the majors. First, let's look across at the National League, the home of the wretched, where the Ancient Soldier from the American League (read Roger Clemens) is unhittable, and the Cardinals, so easily vanquished in 2004, have the best record in baseball. Wannabes like the Padres, Nats, and even the Cubs contend for playoff positions while teams like the Tribe or Texas would be division leaders.

The starting pitching has stabilized, with a certain level of consistency sufficient amidst offensive splendor. Clement, Wells, Arroyo, Wakefield, and, er 'fill in the blank' with Papelbon, Lester, or Abe Alvarez. For the most part, they'll give you six to seven innings of three to four run pitching. They may not be the greatest, but that's baseball in the Questech era.

As for the bullpen, it used to be Myers and Timlin, then mix me a gimlet. Now Curt Schilling has firmed up the end-game (gave a little excitement last night, huh?) and Bradford's not so bad and even Little Manny might have a place, at least until Craig Hansen rumbles to the mound. Why does he remind me of John Vukovich (?) in Major League.

Defensively, well, let's not get defensive about it. We don't have an Beltran-Cameron train wrecks, barely, as Manny and Edgar narrowly missed. Neither of them have caught what we'd expect, anyway.

Offensively, now that's home cooking. Graffanino has been a revelation (gawd, let there be no positive drug tests), Manny and Ortiz are the deadliest combination since Mantle and Maris (really), JV has given varsity performance all year behind the plate and at bat, and What Would Johnny Damon Do? Just hit baby. Edgar has scored the third most runs of any AL shortstop and is hitting almost .280. Mueller has started to hit, Kapler has forgotten about the Rising Sun, and Kevin Millar tells funny anecdotes and has colorful warmup duds.

So, forget about any worries (1978), Cardinals (1967), or bygone miscreants (see ya' D-Lowe, thanks for the post-season) and enjoy the stretch run. How about that Cassel guy? He can pitch, too.

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