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Don't you dare panic about this team -- yet

It's a long season, and there is considerable precedent for a bad June meaning jack squat in the long run.

I believe in u
I believe in u
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As of today, July 1st, there are seven teams with a better record than the Red Sox in Major League Baseball, three of them in the American League. Granted, a sinking ship can keep right on racing until it’s fully underwater, which is exactly where it looks like the Sox are headed. But are they, really? Is it Davy Jones’s locker for all of us? Are the Sox set to meet Pluto, God of the underworld? Do they have reservations on the SS Doom, Charon’s ferry for the dead?

Probably not. I think the prophecies of dread -- and they exist -- are a bit early, and borne of the pain of the last two seasons, which spiraled out of control and never recovered. It is possible to pull out of June funks and end up holding the World Series championship trophy. This is not just conjecture. It’s a fact!

You may have heard of a little team called the 2004 Red Sox. They won the World Series. While this year's team probably won’t do that -- there isn’t a single team in the majors who will probably win the title, and, given our playoff structure, there never will be -- the 2004 team is instructive not just for the end result (being the best) but how they got there. Which is to say: painfully. They went 11-14 in June and looked like toast to some, especially in New York.

Here’s Kevin Kernan of the New York Post’s column from June 30, 2004, in a column called SOX BUILT FOR BEER LEAGUE:

THE Red Sox always seem to be chasing the Yankees . . . and the ghosts. Once again they are losing ground.

On a night vice president Dick Cheney was in the house, Boston slugger Manny Ramirez offered up a pretty good concession speech – before the Yankees won in a landslide, 11-3, at the Stadium.

Six years running the Red Sox have finished in second place behind the Yankees in the AL East. They are back in familiar territory, 6½ games behind the lead-dog Bombers as they continue their June swoon, losing nine of 13.

When Ramirez was asked about winning the division he said, "It really doesn’t matter . . . we just want to get into the playoffs."

The Red Sox have only wild card aspirations now. If they keep playing the way they’ve been playing, even those dreams will be shattered. Nearly halfway through this game they had more errors (three) than hits (two).

Is this literally the best thing ever? No! But it’s close! And it’s helpful to remember when things look as bad as they could possibly look. That column was published 12 years ago yesterday, and the dead-and-buried team he described is merely one of the most iconic teams in sports history.

But okay, you say, that’s one team. What about all the other champions? Aha! Fooled again! The 2014 San Francisco Giants, World Series winners themselves, went 10-16 in June, and they didn’t take no boat of the dead. The point is simple: It ain’t over!

Even after Price’s clunker on Wednesday, I firmly believe a rebound is coming. Rick Porcello is already starting to pitch better. Even Clay Buchholz’s last start, in which he gave up three first inning runs and didn’t record an out until facing the eighth batter of the game, was largely decided by a smattering of singles, death-by-paper-cuts style.

For all this team’s flaws, I don’t think you can actually kill it good and dead with paper cuts. With Hanley Ramirez’s bat coming back online in recent weeks, the team has an outrageously talented batting order from spots 1 to 6. Any idea that we should punt on this particular team -- posited, of course, on Twitter -- in David Ortiz’s final, still-glorious season, is madness. Half of games have yet to be played, and the tilts the Sox won in April and May still count.

Eventually the offense will fall out of its funk, the pitchers will turn things around, and the mood will lighten, even if it’s only temporary. It might not be enough to win a World Series, but does it matter? Yes, the Sox have done it 3 times in the last 12 years, but they’ve also done it 3 times in the last 98 years, and we have many fond memories of teams that didn’t win it all. Our expectations have changed, and it’s an expectations game. The team underachieved in June, and we don’t expect them to do it, at least to this degree. But here’s the big question:

Why the hell not?

This is baseball. If you pay any attention to the game, these ebbs and flows happen over and over and over and over. It's not just June. Last year’s World Series champion, the Kansas City Royals, went 11-17 in September. This isht happens, but we are determined to perpetually forget it so that we can put ourselves, and our feelings of dread, at the center of the story. We are not the story. The Red Sox are. And this year’s story is far from over.