Please excuse the Metallica reference in the title
As I talked about awhile back, I don’t think the Red Sox have as strong a rotation as we expected. I wanted Halladay or Lee before the deadline, and am truly concerned about our starting pitching heading down the stretch. Right now we echo the 1948 Braves’ mantra from the days of Spawn and Sain–Beckett, Lester, and then pray for rain.
That said, nothing makes me salivate like a Red Sox / Yankee game. I had to explain this to a few students during our goodbye lunch Wednesday–that I respect and even root for the Rays. Despite their victory over us in last year’s playoffs, I hold them no animosity. They are like the little engine that could. They are like the little brother who always tries really hard to play with his older siblings. I find it difficult to rationalize the extreme hatred Rays fans seem to hold particularly toward the Red Sox. I want the Rays to succeed, for however short a window they have. Because, you Ray fans out there, celebrate as you will, but know this: the economic realities of playing in the AL East will catch up to you, especially in this economy. You will find it difficult to compete as players such as Crawford, Garza, and Zobrist reach free agency and when you are not drafting in the top five every year for a decade. We’ll see how things go this off-season, when Crawford exercises his $1mil buyout, becomes a free agent and fills the void of Johnny Damon in left field. Don’t alienate Red Sox Nation Rays fans. Sooner or later, you will want to join us in that purely Boston of anthems: “Yankees suck, Yankees suck, Yankees suck” (no lie, I have heard this at high school basketball games, shopping malls, and weddings).
That aside (directed to the local radio personalities than to any fanboys who read this blog), there is no limits to my completely irrational hatred of all things Yankees. And it pains me, greatly, to say: I think the Yankees are the clear favorite to win the World Series. I thought, especially after the collapse of Wang, that their pitching would deteriorate. But, unfortunately, Sabathia’s elbow doesn’t show any wear after all those innings last season and Burnett has found a way to stay healthy. Pettitt rolls along as he tends to do. Chamberlain has developed as a starter of note. This all spells trouble for everyone else in Major League Baseball because this offense is legendary. L-E-G-E-N-D-A-R-Y. 8 starters with an OPS+ over 118 and an OPS over .838. By comparison, the Red Sox have 2 starters over those plateaus and the Rays have 4. The Red Sox have a more consistent lineup than the Rays with only one hitter with an OPS+ under 85–Nick Green (72) while the Rays have three starters with OPS+ below 85: Burrell (84), Upton (79), and Navarro (52). If this team can pitch, then I fear there’s nothing to stop them from winning their first championship of this century. BOO!
After the two losses to the Rays, I am really hoping for a split with the Yankees. A victory by Smoltz tonight would go along way to that end. Both of our horses appear later in the series, so I won’t dismiss the possibility of winning 3 out of 4. Here’s to hoping that the Smoltz we see tonight proves those Sabermatricians, and their analysis of his incredulously high BABIP, are right.