Friday, September 12, 2008

Big Weekend!

If it's mid-September, then it must be time for a pennant race here in Boston. This year, as it has been for the last 10, is no different -- give or take a few off years (I'm looking at you, 00-02), as the Sox get ready to take on the Birds of Blue from Toronto.

Or, as the inimitable Joe Castiglione calls 'em on the Sox radio play-by-play, the "Torontonians."

The Blue Jays are in town for 4 games in 3 days, and are the hottest team in baseball, winning 11 of their last 12. They are also 6.5 back in the wild card race, trailing your hometown Red Sox. Am I worried?

A little...

Not about the Blue Jays, mind you. The Sox are gonna be in the playoffs. Have no fear.

What worries me is:
A) During Wednesday night's 14-inning affair, the Sox showed a remarkable ability to NOT get a big hit. I was at the game with the lovely Mrs. Wikked Hahd and, as much as I enjoyed watching Beckett snap off his curveball and frustrate the Rays, it was a little worrisome that the Sox had about 5-6 chance to win the game and couldn't come thru.
B) Big Papi... he looks, umm, a little frustrated that he doesn't have his usual protection. Look, I love Youkilis as much as the next guy and think the guy is having an unbvelievable year, but -- gulp -- he's no Manny, and opposing pitchers know this. And Papi is feeling that loss of protection, as evidenced by the rash of pop-ups he's been hitting lately. I'm hoping it's just a little mid-September slump, but it's a little concerning to see Papi like this. After one of his at-bats, he nearly broke his bat on his thigh -- a sign of frustration I'm not sure we've seen since early May when he was hitting .190.
C) Mike Timlin. Love his competitiveness, he's a great leader and a real gamer. But he's done. Check out this blog... 'Nuff said.
D) Jacoby Ellsbury... he's fast, his defense is awesome (his catch Wednesday night was even more impressive in person) and he is a star in the making, but he HAS got to start getting on base consistently to take the pressure off the rest of the lineup. Paired with Pedroia at the top of the order, they make the Red Sox engine go, and he needs to kick in gear.

Anyway -- I'm still excited for the September pennant race and the postseason (I got my official postseason ticket lottery email yesterday), but would love to see some of these issues ironed out before we start spending quality time with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver on a nightly basis.

Go Sawx!

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