Here we are, at the beginning of May. The baseball season is only 5 weeks old- give or take a couple of days- and it already feels like we've had a full season of drama.
A lot of us started this season with high expectations. All signs seemed that our offense should be able to stand up to the best in the league, our defense should be such that we wouldn't see a single base-runner, and our pitching was so good that we'd be practically untouchable. This was going to be our year.
The new veterans we brought in were supposed to make this team solid down the line, and despite the fact that they've all been around for a long time, they all were pretty sure bets to perform very well for the Sox- Beltre and Cameron would slug decently and provide amazing defense while Scutaro shored up the shortstop position, at least until the Cuban wonder, Jose Iglesias was ready to kick him out with his glove wizardry.
Then April happened.
It's hard to say exactly what happened in April, but it wasn't pretty. Really not pretty. Suddenly the Red Sox, who have a penchant for getting off to great starts before slowing down found themselves off to their worst start in years. Within 5 games, it seemed like the season had already unraveled.
The defense was a joke. Nobody except the mighty Pedroia could hit, and even he seemed helpless when he was moved out of his beloved 2 spot. The starting pitching was, simply put, atrocious, but was miles ahead of the absolutely inept bullpen. It didn't make sense.
Then, as a sweep of the Jays at the end of the month made people start to think things were turning around, we were swept by the worst team in baseball.
It was like Theo and Tito and company were playing a huge joke on the fans of the Red Sox. Every time there was a little glimmer of hope, it would suddenly be dashed by something altogether more embarrasing than the last time. The members of Red Sox Nation, who tend to be pessimistic and cynical on the best of days, were calling for everyone to be fired- it didn't matter who, but someone needed to be a scapegoat.
Then, just when it seemed like the Red Sox season was lost and completely hopeless, one by one, the glimmers of hope started to show up.
One day, the starting pitching would perform well. One day the offense would perform well. There were even, god forbid, a few games the bullpen handled well. Finally, frustrated by the embarrasment at the hands of the lowly O's, the Red Sox came back to town ready to fight.
It looks like finally they're getting it in sync. Our three aces are finally starting to look like the pitching beast they should be. Our offense has been sporadic, but they, at long last, seem to be getting hits when they need to. It's like everyone at one is bursting out of their terrible slump. Hell, even Bill Hall is rocking an OBP of .383. The power guys have finally started to show some power. The defense has made some outstanding plays. And all this with Ellsbury and Cameron still out for the count. Finally this run-prevention machine might be starting to power up.
But that begs the question- is it too late? The Yankees have been off to a very impressive start, even with a few players injured, although some of their older players are at last starting to show a little wear. The Rays, who never really were competing last year, have been absolutely dominant in the beginning of the year, looking on pace to win about 120 games and, with their young, inspried team, just might be able to keep momentum going well into the year. As I write this, the Red Sox are straddling .500, determined to climb back up to the top, but will they be able top the beast that is their division?
Personally, I'm remaining optimistic. I've seen all these players. I know what they're capable of. The new guys, Beltre and Scutaro in particular, seem to really be reaching their potential and playing great baseball. Right now we're looking up at three teams, but The Rays can't possibly continue at the same sickening pace they've been going, the Yankees are going to slow down (they can't have that many old players and have as few injury problems as last year), and the Jays just aren't as good a team as what they've been playing like. I think with some very solid baseball- like they've been playing lately- the Red Sox are still gonna have a shot at this division. Because, as planned, this team is very good when everyone is playing as they should.
EDIT: I wrote this before last night's tragedy. I still remain optimistic, but some things have changed since this was written.