Sunday, May 13, 2007


Only the most aggrieved, self-indulgent Red Sox fan can complain about the team at this juncture. They have the second best record in baseball (after the Brewers, who would have guessed) and have done it with the incredible assistance of a Japanese pitcher (Okajima) and without premium performances from the high-priced spread (Drew, Matsuzaka, Lugo, Ramirez).

Among the surprises are the combined 18 stolen bases from Lugo and Crisp, the metamorphosis of Josh Beckett who had embodied the Ray Millerian 'wisdom triad' (throw strikes, change speeds, work fast), and outperformance from the corners (Youkilis and Lowell).

The epistemic solution for the Red Sox hasn't been to spend far more dollars (they have), but the simple reliance on one of baseball's infallible truths: performance fluctuates. Players who struggled via injury or underachievement last year (e.g. Wakefield, Varitek) are playing better. We tend to 'credit' or vilify management or field direction (Francona) for nonlinear achievement inherent in athletic undertaking. That isn't to say that having a Bill Russell or Michael Jordan equivalent makes no difference, but consistency in baseball becomes a rare commodity.

Who can forget the mercurial performances of George Scott, Dwight Evans meteoric second career after Charlie Lau, or Brett Saberhagen's career fluctuations. The late Mark Belanger was a career .228 hitter, but hit .287 in 1969 as the Orioles got to the Series against the Amazin' Mets.

So, amidst our praise and rage at the Red Sox, we need to remember J.P. Morgan's thoughts on stock market price and their corollary (baseball achievement), "it will fluctuate."

Happy Mothers Day!

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