The Red Sox are 0-4, one of only three winless teams in the majors behind the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays. Their pitching has looked shaky, and the offense has disappeared the past two games. John Lackey, supposedly ten pounds lighter, looks like the same bum from last season. Carl Crawford, their prized $142 million acquisition, is hitting a mighty .133 and has been bounced around in the order twice in four games. They now turn their lonely eyes to that bastion of consistency, Daisuke Matzusaka, to put an end to their misery. The Horror! The Horror!
Calm down. Take a deep breath and step away from that ledge my friend, it’s only April.
It is the definition of absurdity to be lamenting the loss of a season in game five of a 162 game season, yet that’s precisely where fans of the local nine find themselves. It’s hard to preach calm when the hyperbole has been ratcheted up to ridiculous proportions.
Newspapers across Boston seem to start each and every story with the fact that no team has gone 0-4 and gone on to reach the World Series. Sports Illustrated rolled out the helpful statistic that only two teams out of 110 have started 0-4 and reached the postseason. Of the 110 teams that have gone 0-5, only one played into October.
Doesn’t mean a thing.
Sure, there are things to worry about on this team. Lackey can’t afford to be as miserable as he was last year. Beckett, though not as terrible as the pitching over the weekend, couldn’t get past the fifth inning against the woeful Cleveland Indians. Jarrod Saltalamacchia isn’t exactly setting the world on fire with his batting prowess, but who knows if any of this will be talked about come late August and early September.
In baseball, patience is a virtue. Few remember how terrible Dustin Pedroia looked in April 2007, his first with the team. It got so ridiculous fans were calling for Pedroia to be permanently benched in favor of Alex Cora, the utility outfielder. Hitting .172 on May 1, well below the "Mendoza Line," Pedroia was laughed at when he defiantly proclaimed on WEEI that he would be slugging over .300 by the end of the season. He went on to bat well over .300 and win the AL Rookie of the Year Award. Think what would have been missed had Francona rushed to judgment to placate the Fenway faithful.
In 2006, the Red Sox opened strong, reaching first place by early June on the strength of their interleague schedule that month. (Hey NESN, “could the leathah be betta with Lowell and Lorretta?”) That was of course before they had to go back to playing American League opponents and Josh Beckett decided to distribute homeruns to opposing players like Santa distributes toys at Christmas. The Sox finished 86-76, in third place behind the Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. I suppose planning for the “Rolling Rally” in June was a tad premature.
Look at it this way—even if the Sox lose tonight (Wednesday) and every other AL East Team wins. they’d still only be 3 and ½ games behinds the Yankees. (Five behind the Orioles, but does anyone really see them keeping this pace?)
Calm down Sox fans, crack open a beer and prepare for the 36 hour ordeal that is a Dice-K start. By October, this will all be forgotten and perhaps we’ll hear Mayor Menino talking of how we’ll see “Dropkick Murphy on a float” at the victory parade as a video of “Varitek splitting the uprights” plays in the background. (If you’re not from Boston, please do yourself a favor and Google these quotes). Of course, if they don’t win tonight I’ll join you frantic Sox fanatics on the Tobin tomorrow.