We needed this. There was no reason we had to have it, but we needed it. After the trade and COVID and the 2020 season, it felt pretty bleak in these parts. It was pretty bleak in these parts. And days like this seemed years away.
Now that they are here, it feels... exceptional. Except it doesn’t feel like an exception at all. In the most literal sense, it’s unlikely that the Sox win nine games in a row (or however many they get to) again this year, but that’s not the point. The point is that the team’s baseline has moved from .500 team to something, if only slightly better in cold, hard math terms (while FanGraphs has the Sox’s playoff odds at 55%, Baseball Prospectus still has them at less than half of that)—well, something that feels good of which to be a part.
For the first time since 2018, there is pure joy in Red Sox baseball. In 2019 the weight of expectations weighed down the team as if it had been soaked in mercury, and last year was the stuff of nightmares. All this is like being awoken from the nightmare to find it’s the most beautiful day you’ve ever seen, one when you don’t check the weather forecast to see how it’ll be in the afternoon. You live these moments and don’t worry too much about if you’ll need an umbrella later.
And they might. The pitching has been, on balance, perhaps unsustainably good. J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers are unlikely to to hit 70 homers each. Matt Barnes is probably not the belated second coming of Mariano Rivera. But honestly, who cares? It’s time to break out a version of one of the oldest saws in the English language: It’s called the present because it’s a gift.
And this is a gift from the players to us. I won’t sit here and blow smoke Chaim Bloom’s direction until I see it for a full year, because his job is to create a team that does it for a full year, and the major contributors to all this winning—Martinez, Devers, Barnes, Xander Boagerts—predate his arrival. Alex Verdugo had a great day yesterday and could be one of the players that Bloom acquired who does send the Sox to heights undreamt of even a week ago at this time, but that’s a touch more muddled calculation, albeit one that is not necessarily Bloom’s fault (I’m sure the order to trade Mookie was just that: an order). Insofar as he has contributed to the current run, the Garrett Whitlocks of the world are great for now, but they are neither the meat nor the potatoes if what has been a bountiful meal so far. They’re flourishes—from a master chef, for sure—alongside the day-to-day work it takes to feed a ravenous fan base.
The hard work will be incumbent on the players who have excelled so far to keep it up, but the fact they’re still capable of it is bracing, in a good way. As recently as last week it seemed realistic to peg Martinez’s over-under for home runs at 27, which would have been historically out of line with full-season production for any year that wasn’t 2020; there were even concerns with Devers’s swing-and-miss patterns. These worries have been burnt off like a marine layer on the California coast. The fog in which this organization has been mired has been lifted.
The journey will be long, but finally, blissfully, the team is headed in the right direction. The sun is shining and the wind is strong. Now bring us that horizon.