Sunday, September 30, 2007

This was not a very good week in Sedition in Red Sox Nation land. I think, at this point, that I just might be out of things to say about Notre Dame. Maybe I might have something to throw out there if they ever manage to win a game, but that isn't looking very likely at the moment. Who knows what Navy is capable of after the last 40 years of losing to the Irish? And Duke is looking tremendously better than they have in living memory.

It is true that the last two weeks have seen some improvement. They seem to be moving closer to victory, but that's not the way things are supposed to be. That's not the way things are supposed to be at all. It was supposed to be a thing of beauty. Even if they manage to beat BC, it's still depressing. BC is supposed to be the spoiler of seasons, not Notre Dame.

And then for the first time since 1995, the Boston Red Sox have won the AL East. The Yankees twelve year reign of terror is over. If I were a Red Sox fan, however, I wonder just how optimistic I'd be as the playoffs open. In one way of looking at this matter, the Red Sox are rolling into the playoffs tied with the Indians for the best record in Major League Baseball. But that's only part of the story.

The Red Sox finished the season 42-30 against the AL East. The Yankees ended up at 39-33 in the division. There could be some small cause for concern there. After all, I'm sure Red Sox fans remember that the Yankees took the season series 10-8. That means the Sox won five more games against the Blue Jays, Orioles and Devil Rays than the Yankees did.

I hope Sox fans will forgive me for going the long way around to make this point, but the rest of the AL East wasn't particularly good this season. Toronto did finish two games over .500, which really surprised me. I haven't paid much attention to them, even when they play the Red Sox. But the Orioles finished twelve games under .500, and the Devil Rays ended the year two games behind them.

I said all that to say this - managing to beat these teams more than the Yankees did isn't a tremendously encouraging sign going forward. Last I looked, none of these teams are going to be playing in this postseason. The competition facing the Red Sox as they chase that World Series trophy is going to be slightly more formidable.

The Red Sox did win the season series against the Indians and the Angels. But it seemed that their victories against the Angels came early in the season and then later on the Angels got the better of the Sox. One wonders just how much this matters when the division series starts. I wish it weren't the case, but the Angels and the Indians scare me. And not in the good way. The matchups seems all wrong to me. I can't stand either team, so it will be a lot harder to root for them than it would be to root for the Yankees.

The last time the Red Sox and Angels met in the playoffs was in 2004, and the Sox swept them in the ALDS. I know that's all in the past now, but I don't see the Angels winning this one, to tell the truth. I know all about his stats and his talent, but something about Vlad Guerrero doesn't inspire confidence in me. Their running game could pose problems for Varitek whose arm isn't really all that good. But that hinges on them getting on base, and I'm not entirely sure that they will do it consistently.

Should the Red Sox win and the Indians prevail, I won't much enjoy the ALCS. Until guys like Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore show me that they can produce in pressure situations, I won't be too optimistic about their chances. Obviously it's kind of hard to build a postseason resume when your team hasn't gotten into the playoff. But I don't remember them burning it up two years ago when they chased the White Sox down the stretch.

Of course the Yankees might be a more formidable opponent, and I'd love to see them beat the Red Sox because it will vex Red Sox fans much more than any other team taking an ALCS from them. Should the Red Sox fall to the Angels, that would be interesting, since they have had a nasty habit of beating the Yankees in playoff series lately. But I'm not too worried about that since, as I've said, I'm not holding out hope for an Angel win.

In unrelated matters, Donovan McNabb really showed me how wrong I was when I ripped him last week. He really took over tonight's game against the Giants, right? Getting sacked 12 times showed that his knee is completely healed, that he is the answer for the Eagles and the best QB of all time. Of course the dozen sacks weren't all his fault. Obviously the line sucked, and the coaches might have wanted to think about taking a different approach to blocking that guy who got six sacks by himself somewhere between sack two and sack six, but that's just me. But you can't tell me that McNabb couldn't have thrown it away two or three of those plays, can you?

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