To mark the momentous occasion that is the 2008 Playoffs we asked a couple of esteemed guest writers to talk about their favorite team's chances this postseason. But not this one. There was no way I was letting anyone else take the Red Sox. So here's Kris "CTC" Liakos of the mildly unhated Walkoff Walk.
The Red Sox have won an average of 93.1 games over the past 7 years. In the seven years prior to that, they won an average of 86 games. All that is to say, what was once a decent team has upped their year in and year out performance to a much higher level, and while the playoffs aren't expected every year, it sure is tougher to take when they don't get there.
But this year was a relative cruise toward October. Since Boston had been making the postseason with some frequency without winning their division for a dozen or so years, it's hard to summon any righteous indignation about not winning the division, and "if we don't win it, I hope the Rays do" has become a phrase just as overused here as anywhere else in the United States of Baseball.
But if you're under the impression that I'm not freaking out about the playoffs, you're sorely mistaken and the only reason I haven't pissed my jeans is because the Brewers thought of it first and I'm no copycat.
A couple weeks back I was high high high on this team's chances to repeat. I felt like Ortiz was coming around at the right time, Bay was filling in respectably for Manny and the entire right side of the infield was getting MVP consideration.
Since then injuries, and the soft underbelly they revealed, have me seriously questioning their ability to go the distance. Josh Beckett's oblique strain is an injury that is rarely seen in public without the word "nagging." That leaves the rotation, after Jon Lester, pretty light. At first glance Matsuzaka's numbers are great, but once you look more closely at his WHIP, and more importantly, watch him pitch every game hanging off a ledge by his fingernails, he does little to inspire confidence. Tim Wakefield is impossible to predict and Paul Byrd gets hit harder than one of John Bonham's floor toms.
Injuries in the lineup to JD Drew and Mike Lowell have allowed weaknesses to appear form other places. Jed Lowrie has redefined the rookie wall and Mark Kotsay may still be the gosh darned nicest guy in the game but hasn't been hitting anything. In a situation where even a playing Mike Lowell may be limited to DH, there is a huge burden on many guys that may not be a-list players.
The bullpen has been marginally better down the stretch, and this team still won 95 games. I like their chances against the Angels because, well, the Angels are overrated. But after that. Color me a pessimist. I'm not sure what color that would be, but when you figure it out feel free to color me in it. Paint, crayon whatever.
Why do I sound so terminally negative? Things haven't chaged all that much for a lifelong Sox fan. It takes more than 7 years.