Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Wolf at the Door, and other thoughts

The Red Sox are on the verge - the veritable edge. Even though they were the third team to clinch a playoff spot and an invitation to the Dance, they are the last team in. They are on the precipice, looking down at the abyss with the mighty Angels standing behind him, ready to push them into oblivion.

At least, that's what a lot of the pundits would have you believe - that the Red Sox needed to win the division and hope that the wild card Rays would knock off the Angels. They'll point to the Angel's 8-1 record against Boston this year, or the fact that the Angels batted .053 higher in those nine games, or even that they outscored the Sox 61-33.

Yes, these are all trends that could indicate doom for the Sox - a brief appearance in the first round. It could easily be argued that it's very likely, based on those numbers, that the Sox are toast. Hell, Jon Lester's career ERA against the Angels is over seven and Daisuke Matsuzaka's is over 10 - not exactly reassuring.

The team could easily be down 0-2 by the time they return to Fenway.

At least that's the trend indicated by numbers. The numbers don't trend well for the Sox. That is a fact.

Of course, that doesn't include the Angels 0-6 record against the Red Sox in post-season play this decade, having been swept twice.

It's also a fact that until 2004 no team in the history of baseball had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a seven game series. Until this year, no first baseman had come close to Steve Gavey's errorless streak of 194 games.

To cross sports - the numbers didn't favor the Celtics winning the way they played in the post-season up until the finals. No team in the history of the NFL has ever completed a 16-0 regular season...except for the Patriots last season. No team has ever won 20 regular season games in a row...until the Pats did it. Until this year, no one has ever returned home from the Olympics with as many as seven gold medals. Until 2004, no cyclist had more than five total Tour de France victories. Based on trends, all of the above accomplishments were unlikely.

I'm not saying I think the Red Sox are going to win. I'm hoping they do - but they have their work cut out for them. They will have to fight and scrape to stave off the wolf at the door.

The bottom line is that this is a team that's going to have to adopt the persona of the right side of their in-field. They will have to be the Dirt Dogs, the scrappers, and brawlers. They have to come back to Fenway with at least a split.

The bottom line is that this is an opportunity for one of these two teams to buck a trend and get a monkey off its back - the Angels post-season woes against the Red Sox, or the Sox breaking the monkey of a season in which they barely were able to steal a win from the Angels.

Other things...

Terrell Owens is whining that he didn't get the ball enough in the Cowboys' home loss to the Redskins on Sunday. He's whining after a game in which Tony Romo had 47 attempts, 17 of them went to Owens.

The volatile receiver caught seven passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. He also dropped three, including a late touchdown that would have put the Cowboys ahead, and short-armed at least two others.

Maybe before he whines about the offensive coordinator not calling his number enough, he ought to make the plays on the catchable balls thrown his way.

Can't say this is a surprise, though. It was only a matter of time. Really, the only surprise here, to me, is that he kept it together this long.

I would also like to take a moment to wish good luck to now former Jacksonville offensive lineman Richard Collier who had to have a leg amputated after being shot during the preseason. Collier's life has changed radically in a brief period of time, going from being a monster of a human that pushed people around, to being paralyzed from the waist down. While a most unfortunate turn of events, Collier joins the likes of Sean Taylor and Darrent Williams as apparent targets of attackers.

Granted, Collier supposedly wasn't exactly in one of Jacksonville's high-end neighborhoods when shot, but one has to wonder if some of these players aren't putting themselves into harm's way. These are horrible things that no one deserves, but one still has to wonder.


David Sullivan said...

Why is everyone afraid to play the Angels in the first round. We haven't had a problem with th eAngels since "Hendu" knocked Donnie Moore into never never land.

We are to the Angels what the Yankees were to us for so long...regardless of regular season.

I'd rather get them out of the way in a five game series.

Suldog said...

Blood usually tells, but not this time.

Unlike my esteemed cousin, I think the Angels will win this series. I'm not saying it will be a romp, but they've had our number this year, for sure.

I'm rooting for the Sox to take them, of course. And, if they do, I think they'll go all the way. The Angels are the ONLY team I think the Sox can't take.