Why is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence? That’s an easy one. Because from your angle and distance, you can’t see all the holes. Or, it’s because it’s artificial turf.
That’s what’s happening to Red Sox fans this season. Up close, you see the dead patches in your lawn. Looking at your neighbors, it all blends together to look much better than it really is. That’s why last season a 5 game lead in the Wild Card wasn’t enough in September, but this season a 5 game deficit in August is insurmountable. Isn’t it obvious how crazy it is?
I’ve heard all the complaints. For the most part, they’re ridiculous. “They’re in fourth place in the division!” So? Somebody has to be in fourth. Check out the Olympics. Every event has a fourth place. Does that mean those athletes are crap? Nope. Even if they finished fourth out of five, they’re still pretty good. The ranking is irrelevant, unless there are numbers to go along with it.
That’s when the other complaint gets tossed about. “They’re below .500!” That’s, obviously, true. They’re playing .491 ball right now. How are the wild card leaders doing? They’re playing .540 ball. Yup. It’s better. 5.5 games better, in fact. But, and it’s an important “but,” they’re not playing well. Remember that “terrible” 2011 Red Sox team that missed the playoffs? Remember their winning percentage? .556. How about the 2010 team that finished out of the running? .549. So, why on earth would we be worried about chasing down a WC leader that’s not even playing well enough to have made the playoffs the last two years? Shouldn’t they be the ones who are worried? Shouldn’t the Tigers be looking behind them? After all, as I’ve mentioned, the Sox finally have health on their side. Bailey and Ortiz are days away. Shouldn’t the Detroit papers be killing the team for not taking advantage of the Sox injuries? They had their chance. Now it’s over. The Sox are healthy, and only need to beat a team on pace for 88 wins. The Sox are better than that.
Then, people thrown in the other crazy problem. “There are more than just the Tigers!” There are three other teams between the Sox and the WC lead. Plus, they tend to play each other a lot. Strangely, this is seen as a bad thing. “The math doesn’t work. Somebody has to win!” they shout. True. But, and it’s another important “but,” somebody also has to lose. Isn’t it a great thing that they all play each other? Doesn’t it mean that nobody can break away? Doesn’t it mean that all the Sox need to do is take care of themselves, and the other teams will cancel each other out? Especially since the Sox, too, play mostly teams in front of them for the rest of the season?
The other teams have been plodding along all season. They took too long. The last time the Sox were healthy was the middle of last season. That’s when they were the best team in baseball.
The rest of the AL better listen to Satchel Paige.