Please pass the salt and pepper. I’m about to eat some crow. Last July, I wrote how nervous I was when the Red Sox were in first place at the All Star break. Looking back over 20 years’ records, I was pessimistic that the home team could sustain the performance that found them in first place at that halfway point in the regular season schedule. The statistics still hold, but this year is the exception to that tendency. I’m very happy to have been wrong.
What wasn’t clear back then was how scrappy this team is, in fact, how they truly are a team. They have hitting, pitching, fielding, base stealing (what an anomaly that is!), and, thanks to John Farrell and Ben Cherington, talent, focus and determination. For the first time in the team’s history, they have gone from a season of being last to a season of being first. Who’da thunk?
The stats in this morning’s Globe back up the story: first in runs, first in doubles, first in walks, first in on-base percentage, and, while they’re only fourth in stolen bases, this isn’t your grandmother’s Boston Red Sox. These guys hustle. Plus, the new guys have carved out their own personality. Not just the beards (as Kevin Cullen wrote recently, they look like a bunch of Orthodox rabbis), but the hunger, the spirit, the commitment never to give up.
Now it’s all about keeping the best record in the American League to ensure home field advantage in post-season play. This is exciting stuff. Even longtime Boston Symphony conductor Sejii Ozawa is calling his former colleagues regularly from Japan to share in the excitement.
Whatever happens in the ALCS and World Series, this team has given us a wonderful spring and summer. And you won’t hear any negativism from me about the Sox being just the boys of summer. This will be an extended and happy autumn in Red Sox Nation. I’m sure of it.
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