The Baseball Gods can be fickle and cruel.
Herodotus, the famous Greek historian, once wrote “Do you see how the god always hurls his bolts at the greatest houses and the tallest trees. For he is wont to thwart whatever is greater than the rest.”
Perhaps this explains the horrid streak of luck that the Sox have encountered this year. Maybe it was because we had gotten too proud of the success of the Sox and our hubris, as in many of those great Greek tragedies, caused our downfall. Maybe we had simply begun to take winning for granted, and after two Championships, we were spoiled and needed to be reminded of what being a Sox fan means. Whatever the reason, the Sox seem doomed this year.
The blows started early, for no sooner had spring training gotten under way than Daisuke Matsuzaka was sidelined. Then Adrian Beltre annihilated most of the outfield. Then the catchers fell, followed by the right side of the infield. The only three pitchers who avoided the injury bug were Lester, Lackey, and Wakefield. I hold my breath as I almost anticipate the announcement that Scutaro and Beltre both had a case of season ending food poisoning last night when they ate some bad shrimp scampi at a Tampa Bay seafood restaurant together.
The effects of this affliction range from cruel to downright bizarre. Take, for example, the mysterious case of the catchers. No sooner had Victor Martinez gone down with a broken thumb than less than a week later, our Captain and superbackup, Jason Varitek, fouled a ball off his foot and followed the guy he was understudying to the DL. This, of course, resulted in the acquisition of Kevin Cash, reminding all of us how much we took for granted the services of Doug Mirabelli. Following several grueling weeks of watching Cash, first as a starter then as a backup, show us just how good even the worst of Major League pitching really is, salvation came at the deadline with the difficult-to-spell Jarrod Saltalamacchia. His debut went off with a bang, and it seemed that Theo’s trade deadline was perhaps better than what we believed. Of course, that was before Salty’s leg got infected from doing God-knows-what and he went to the disabled list to get catching tips from Varitek.
Who can forget how Dustin Pedroia, coming off the single greatest performance of his career with going 5-5 with three home runs in a single game, fouled a ball off his foot and broke it the next day. The Boston Globe reported yesterday that word has just been leaked from a major league source claiming that Pedroia will likely be out the rest of the season, joining Youkilis, Cameron, and likely Ellsbury. Just like that, the heart and soul of the Red Sox was lost.
Wednesday also had another curious incident. The Red Sox had a double header on a day where both the Yankees and Rays lost. After winning the first game thanks to a solid Josh Beckett, it looked like they had a chance to gain some serious ground on their division rivals.
First, Daisuke Matsuzaka reported a problem with his back, resulting in the completely unbalanced matchup of the unpredicatable Tim Wakefield against the future Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez. Then in the second inning, Adrian Beltre was inexplicably ejected by rookie homeplate umpire Dan Bellino. We’re not sure if it was because he was speaking in Spanish and maybe Bellino just can’t stand the sound of the language, or if it was because he was enjoying himself too much with King Felix. Didn’t Beltre know? This is a game; you’re not allowed to have fun. Whatever the reason, the Sox lost their best hitter, then their manager, then the game.
Herodotus may have a point with his observation about hubris, this year’s precipitous decline in the Sox’ television ratings and reports of scalpers being unable to get rid of tickets seem to indicate that Red Sox Nation may have begun to take winning for granted. But another sage once made an equally as wise observation of his own, “There is no crying in baseball”. The Red Sox haven’t given up yet. No matter what forces have conspired against them, the likes of Nava, Dubrount, McDonald, and Kalish have kept them in the race. Today, in testament to how good the Pawsox are, they sit a mere 5.5 games back of first place in the AL East. They still have six games left against each the Yankees and the Rays.
Their destiny is still in their hands.