I was on the outside, I was looking in
So after riding the top spot in the AL East since June, the Sox dropped to second after their loss Wednesday night. If the playoffs ended today, they’d be on the outside looking in.
I’m am a big fan of Francona in general, but I can’t find much fault with this indictment of how Terry has handled the bullpen lately over at Top of the Ninth. (The Ninth is, in my opinion, the best-written Red Sox blog out there. Too bad we often have to wait weeks for new posts. His commentary during last year’s playoffs was so good that I printed it all out and stuck it in my World Series program. You know, just in case the Internet stops working and we’re all living in caves in 30 years.)
In tonight’s pregame interview on WEEI, Francona said something about the team needing to respond to the pressure and step up, and Joe asked him if that included the young guys. Terry replied that they’re absolutely part of the team and he has the same expectations of everyone. If you interpret the question as a politely phrased “Are you going to start using these guys more?” then that’s a non-answer. (Yes, that’s a bit of a stretch, but that’s how Joe works in pre-game interviews. If there’s a controversial question muttering its way around the fanbase, Joe will allude to it in the most polite and non-confrontational way possible. Am I splitting hairs finely here? Yes, but this is the sort of thing I think about while I’m driving home.) Francona did close by saying they’d do whatever it takes to win. So maybe we will get to see Papelbon, Hansen, and Delcarmen tested in high-leverage situations soon. Timlin definitely looks tired lately.
Switching gears and looking at the situation in the most glass-is-half-full way possible: If you’re going to make the playoffs, you’re better off storming in with a late come-from-behind surge than to come in sitting on a big lead that holds up despite a lackluster September. The baseball playoffs are all about momentum. I’m not saying I’m glad that we’re not leading the division anymore, but the Sox have demonstrated that they give their best effort when the chips are down. Look at it another way: the World Series has been won each of the last three years by a Wild Card team…
Here’s another tidbit from the pregame show. David Ortiz already has the “Big Papi” Club at D’Angelo’s; now Song Airlines is naming one of their planes “Big Papi”. They’re going to have a ceremony and everything. I would pay admission to see Ortiz smack an airliner with a bottle of champagne. Do they still do that?