With their 5-3 loss last night, and the dispiriting defeat on Saturday, the Red Sox have successfully reached into the still-beating heart of Red Sox Nation, and torn it right out, Aztec-style / Temple of Doom Style.
Make no mistake: the playoff competition is over. Boston started this series 5.5 back of the Rays for the Wildcard. Now they're 6.5 back, with a month to go. New York and Tampa are both healthy, while half of Boston's starting lineup is on the DL. The bullpen after Bard (and sometimes Paps) is wretched. Our starting rotation after Lester is questionable.
The ONLY way Boston makes the playoffs is some horrific act of god that no one, not even a bitter Red Sox like myself, would wish on another team. Like a volcano opens up under the Bronx. The Umbrella Corporation turns the whole team into ravenous zombies (Nick Swisher was a test case). Left-wing revolutionaries force St Petersburg, FL to secede from the rest of the country. No, we won't even fantasize about those possibilities...
Let it suffice that if the Sox do somehow eke their way into the playoffs, it would require miraculous play from them and a hideous collapse from one of the other AL East teams. There are 31 games left on the calendar. At 74- 57, in order for our team to hit Theo's goal of 95 wins, which has been the aim every year, they'd need to go 21-10, or a winning percentage of 67.8%. Even if Boston somehow pulled that off with this beat up squad, New York and Tampa, at 80-50, only need to go 16-15 to have 96 wins. 6.5 games back is basically too much ground to cover in this little time.
So, if the playoffs are out of the question, the team just couting its way down to mathematical eliminiation, what's left to see? What's left to watch, discuss, enjoy? Plenty. Ortiz, Beltre, Buchholz and Lester are all having great seasons, which we can continue to savor. There's a lot of prospects to observe on the major league stage (see Outfield, Ours), and September's roster expansion should bring yet more. In lost seasons, one can focus on the development of young players, the Daniel Navas and Ryan Kalishs of the world. And another offseason is coming, with interesting names to discuss acquiring and players to decide on re-signing. I hate that I have to say it, but there's always next year.