Last night I was sitting at home feeling lonely and sad, for there was no baseball on TV. Even worse, there won’t be any baseball tonight either. Also, it’s Wednesday of a four-day week, which for some reason always feels like the longest workday in the world. Thus it seems like as good a time as any to post links to three recent Boston Metro columns.
First up, today’s Metro column, which compares the Red Sox and the Indians in seven key categories. My ALCS prediction? I have to go with Boston. But I think it will take six games. Here’s something weird that I had to cut for space purposes: among pitchers who’ve worked at least 140 innings, Beckett ranks fourth in run support (after Verlander, Wang, and Pettite). Paul Byrd, Daisuke Matsuzaka, C.C. Sabathia, and Tim Wakefield all group nicely between the 9 and 15 spots on that list. But poor Fausto Carmona is starting to get left behind at 27th (supporting my contention below that with just a bit better luck, he could have mounted a legit challenge his own teammate Sabathia for the Cy). But Curt Schilling has been positively impoverished in terms of run support in this contract year. He ranks 41st out of 47 pitchers. Ouch. But who is dead last? Why, none other than Cleveland’s own Jake Westbrook. Poor guy. The energetic Indian offense scores only 3.61 runs when he’s on the mound. The only other pitcher with average run support under four runs per game is Kansas City’s Gil Meche. That stings.
Next, last week’s Metro GameDay column, which ran with the scorecards for Game 2 of the ALDS, which Matsuzaka started (and which Manny Ramirez finished in such style). I wondered which Daisuke would be showing up that night. Alas, it was Dice-K’s less effective twin, Dice-BB. Nevertheless, when I was researching the column, I was shocked by just how inconsistent (and flat-out weird) his numbers have been this year. Some weirdness that ended up on the cutting room floor: his numbers in domes are fantastic, yet he has an 0-4 record in domes.
And finally, for you Trekkies (or Trekkers, if you prefer) out there, I’m posting a fanciful GameDay column from the last week of the regular season. I call it, “Sox Entering Final Frontier.”
Columnist’s Log. Sox Date: last week of regular season.
We are currently adrift in a valuable sector of the baseball universe known as the “pre-postseason.” It is a welcome change, as all fan-base personnel spent the previous four weeks at battle stations while our team appeared headed straight at a wormhole to that undesirable quadrant known as the “missing the playoffs.” The standoff began as an enemy vessel caught us off-guard. It was the New York Romulans, just off our stern thanks to their cloaking device. Yet fan-base personnel are now warily standing down, preparing for the coming transition. No matter what our enemies do, we are now headed for the contested sector of ALDS.
During the recent skirmish, I received a transmission from the Vulcans (at Baseball Prospectus). Our panic over Eric Gagne was “irrational,” they said. Terry Francona’s managerial experimenting was admirable. Our red alert was not logical. Around the same time, I also registered a contradictory communication from the honor-obsessed Klingons (at Sports Illustrated). “Francona needs to quit with the experimenting,” they seethed, “And stop coddling and start pushing. He has to play to win. And he has to start now.”
To those educated outside New England’s Soxfleet Academy, it seemed impossible that a team with the best record in the Federation could miss out on the division title after achieving a 14.5 game lead. But the USS Red Sox boldly goes where no team has gone before.
Surely, the Vulcans recognize that it’s hard to win games when Manny Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis, Coco Crisp, and Doug Mirabelli are all on the bench, and that it’s far better for these battered ironmen to rest now than in October. And even the Klingons must know that it doesn’t really matter how you get into the playoffs. Just that you get in. Even home-field advantage and a choice of schedules don’t alter that calculus too much, despite the machinations of Admiral Selig.
As for Commodore Francona’s tinkering, I again am called to moderate between our Klingon allies and our Vulcan friends. Clearly, as the Vulcans assert, it is better to know how Ensign Gagne performs in pressure situations before the final battle. And yet, I must concede to the Klingons that watching Captain Varitek and Commander Ortiz get thrown out trying to steal goes against our organizational Prime Directive against interference-for-the-sake-of-interference.
In the meantime, ship doctors are cautiously hopeful that Ensigns Lugo and Drew may both make full recoveries, as it now appears that they have not, in fact, been reprogrammed by the Borg. Nevertheless, we hope to be more circumspect in our dealings with their Ferengi spokesman, Boras.
As for the USS Red Sox, it is now certain of getting at least as far as Sector ALDS. Whether it ventures further into the Postseason Quadrant remains to be seen. Let us hope they play long. And prosper.