We should be looking forward to things like Ryan Lavarnway's major-league trial more than the box scores right now. (Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE)
Obviously, you want your team to win games. Lots of them, in fact. Enough to enjoy the reward of the postseason, and the chance at a World Series run. Boston has been fortunate to finish the season as a winning team every year since 1998, even if it hasn't always resulted in a playoff berth. This season is starting to look like a bust in that regard, but these things happen. Better the occasional implosion season than to suffer like the Pirates, Orioles, or Astros, yeah?
Boston was just swept by an Angels team that desperately needed to sweep in order to remain close to a packed wild card race. Good for the Angels, and bad for the Red Sox, but probably good for Red Sox fans. It helped kill the last remaining shreds of hope for the 2012 season, what hadn't already been torn asunder by the loss of Will Middlebrooks, the now nearly six full weeks without David Ortiz, or the decision for Carl Crawford to undergo Tommy John surgery, performed Thursday.
That's not to say that being negative is a worthwhile goal. But the lack of expectations takes the pressure off. Given how fans and media have reacted to Boston's performance in 2012, letting some of that pressure go is probably for the best, both in the short- and long-term. Boston has roughly six weeks worth of games left, they're seven games under .500 and 8-1/2 out of a wild card spot. They have less than a one percent chance of making the playoffs at this point, and the knowledge of that is somehow more freeing than upsetting.
That's not the same as not caring about what happens to the Red Sox. I care, you care -- there's been a whole lot of caring going on about this team. Probably too much! And that's kind of the point. This is a good time to reset all of those feelings, to level out and prepare yourself for 2013. Enjoy watching some of the kids play when they get their shots, something that's going to happen even more often over the season's final month. Don't fret too much over the actual results, as you're in full-on "journey, not the destination" mode right now, since the destination that matters -- the playoffs -- are almost assuredly out of reach.
Take the time to watch Ryan Lavarnway as he tries to play himself into a permanent role on the team. There will be struggles -- there already have been -- but Lavarnway wouldn't be the first rookie with potential to ever look totally lost in his first few weeks in the majors. It gives him and Dustin Pedroia something to talk about.
Enjoy what looks to be the revival of the Jon Lester that the Red Sox will need in 2013 and 2014, the last two years of his extension. Since his horrendous start against the Jays, Lester has posted a 3.48 ERA, .259 batting average on balls in play, and struck out 33 hitters in 33 innings, against just eight walks. Considering he had a .334 BABIP on the season beforehand, that .259 mark is far more assuring than worrisome at this point.
Next month, we'll likely get to see a lot of Jose Iglesias at short. His performance there might give him a leg up in competition next spring, or maybe he'll just convince Boston that another full year in the minors is warranted. Either way, we'll get to watch him field.
Remember that if Daisuke Matsuzaka pitches poorly, it might just be his final month with the Red Sox. If Aaron Cook keeps pitching, hope that if he doesn't pitch well, he at least fails at striking hitters out, so that we can get some historical freak show stuff going on for our amusement.
Watch Franklin Morales attempt to make himself a member of the 2013 rotation. At least in games where he's not yanked before completing three innings thanks to a pair of errors that extended his innings and the opponent's lead. A move that later led to the manager leaving his closer in for too long due to worries about how many innings he'd be able to get out of his bullpen.
But hey, as much as losing sucks, it can also lead to something we're not used to talking about: better draft position. The Red Sox aren't going to lose any free agents that will bring them compensatory draft picks for the 2013 draft, so they'll have to work with the standard draft picks allotted to them. If the Sox are going to lose, they might as well lose in a way that secures them better players. And if that losing also means that Boston decides Bobby Valentine isn't the man for the job, then didn't you just win twice by losing? One step back, two steps forward, assuming you have the goal of seeing Bobby V ousted, anyway.
And if the show in the majors isn't going to do it for you next month, just remember that we've still got all those lovely prospects to discuss after their seasons' end in a matter of weeks. There's always the future, even when the present isn't working out for you.