Why do Boston baseball writers always put the Red Sox on a pedestal and ignore how damned good a few of their opponents are?
We're seeing this phenomenon again right now as the Red Sox face off against the Texas Rangers. I follow the Red Sox very closely. I read all that's written about them. I listen to enough samplings of sports talk radio to get a decent feel for what the current chatter is. And I can tell you that the fans, talk show hosts and baseball writers have not discussed the Rangers for who they really are.
The Rangers are as good, and, now, with the Red Sox injuries, arguably better than the Red Sox. Yet, all you hear on talk radio is debate over who the Red Sox should pitch in Game 3 of the ALDS. The prospect of facing the Rangers in the playoffs is downplayed by many—as if it'd be a "stop-over" step on the way to the Red Sox' inevitable matchup with the New York Yankees in the ACLS, and perhaps the World Series.
It's ludicrous. One doesn't have to go far to see and feel how good the Rangers are. Last night, C.J. Wilson—again—completely shut down the Red Sox to lead the Rangers to a victory. Was that a surprise? No. It was so predictable, in fact, that I find it amazing that more Boston baseball writers don't talk about the Rangers as the "bettter" team at this point. Why don't they? The injury-plagued Sox will be very fortunate to split this series with the Rangers. That's against the odds.
The Rangers have pulverized the Red Sox for the past three years. The stats were sprayed all over the television last night. The Rangers pitchers have dominated the Sox. Their hitters have ripped the Sox pitching. The Rangers swept the Sox at the start of the 2011 season, remember? And, that was after they had gone to the World Series in 2010, whiile the Sox failed to make the playoffs, remember?
The problem is Boston baseball writers and many fans continue to deny and distort realities in front of them. Let's take the NY Yankees for the next example. Though, yes, the Sox currently own an amazing 10-2 record vs. the Bombers, why don't more writers and fans acknowledge that right now, the Yankees have at least a small edge over the Red Sox? The Yankees pitching has been much better than expected most of the year. Now, they have Phil Hughes back and he's pitching better. They have A-Rod back. Meanwhile, the Red Sox lost Clay Buchholz. In fact, from the minute that word came that Buchholz likely would miss the whole season, I felt they were unlikely to win it all and I certainly felt it gave the Yanks an advantage.
I could go on about how the Yankees have shown they can easily survive the absence of one of their best hitters while the Red Sox have shown the opposite. When David Ortiz or Kevin Youkilis has been out, the team's whole lineup is hurt because their hitting, while excellent, is not as good as the Yankees hitting. Not at all. (Lately, the Sox have repeatedly started Darnell McDonald and Ryan Lavarnway in their lineups.)
The Philadelphia Philllies are another team that doesn't get mentioned in context enough on Boston's airwaves. They are the best team in baseball due to their incredible rotation.
I am just sick and tired of this ongoing tendency in Boston to stay in denial and disregard other teams. People keep debating whether John Lackey should start Game 3 of the ALDS. Are you kidding me? Why don't writers and fans just admit Lackey would be a poor Game 3 starter compared to many other playoff teams and that'd make the Red Sox more vulnerable?
Why don't writers and fans admit that Jon Lester and Josh Beckett cannot singlehandedly win a championship? In fact, while Lester has had a good year, he's been less dominant and consistent than he was for chunks of the past few years. It's easier to imagine Lester giving up hits in the playoffs to good teams like the Rangers or Yankees, isn' it? And Beckett has shown a few little signs that his arm may be getting a bit worn down. He's due to have a bad outing or two at this point after the remarkable comeback year he's hard.
So, who else in their pitching rotation will lead the Red Sox to their inevitable championship? Will it be Andrew Miller? An aging, predictably declining Tim Wakefield?
Don't get me wrong. I've thoroughly enjoyed this season. The chance to watch Adrian Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury's terrific, unexpected rise to stardom,the steadiness of Dustin Pedroia, the continued excellence of Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon and so on.
But, let's call a spade a spade. The Red Sox are one of a group of teams that "might" have the capacity to win it all—if players stay healthy and key individuals make few mistakes. They've also suffered key injuries at a bad time, and are more vulnerable to fading down the stretch.
Last point: Right now, the Texas Rangers or New York Yankees are better than the Boston Red Sox.