Monday, April 08, 2013

The Prodigal Sox

New Englanders know 'Calvinist' theology, figuratively through scripture and literally through the Calvin Schiraldi meltdown from the 1986 post-season.

Perhaps it is fitting that the 2013 baseball season opens with the 'reformed' Red Sox, offering fans a different attitude and ambience, although extrapolating to the long season is one part impudent and one part folly.

For example, the Sox will not go errorless in 2013, will not have an ERA sub 3, and Daniel Nava will not have forty plus homers, although who would have predicted him to have homered in consecutive games from opposite sides of the plate...this season?

I'm not wholeheartedly jumping onto the bandwagon, but admittedly, one has to be encouraged by the results from the notoriously slow-starting Jon Lester and from Clay Buchholz. Sox fans had reason to expect a productive bullpen, but nobody expected Koji Uehara to look like the bullpen edition of Greg Maddux or Joel Hanrahan a reasonable facsimile of Dick Radatz.

Are there questions?  Certainly after watching the Sox struggle against Pettitte, Happ, Cecil, and for the most part Chen, we have to wonder about adjustments against left-handed pitchers. Wunderkind Jackie Bradley, Jr. has sprung a leak against southpaws and hard stuff under the hands. We still don't know about the longer-term health of David Ortiz, Stephen Drew, or John Lackey.

And while it's kumbaya in Camelot for a week, the marathon season sometimes exposes the tensions and travails of millionaire wallets and egos, and the mercurial nature of others, like Ace Aceves.

But all those caveats aside, the Red Sox version 2013.0 has exceeded early expectations and done so with good will if not duende. You can't ask for more than that.