The Red Sox enter the second half of the season in first place by three full games, and exactly halfway to 100 wins. They are a very good team. This is not what I expected. I am pleased. I am also confused.
I was part of the overwhelming consensus that the Sox would be average this year. However dumb it seems in retrospect, time makes fools of us all, and they are very good, as it turns out. It has been done through a combination of skill and luck that cannot be achieved without a high degree of skill. Luck alone doesn’t explain this. This may not have been the most likely outcome, but you have to figure Chaim Bloom thought it well within the range of possibilities, whereas shortsighted folks like myself did not. Apologies.
For what it’s worth, I am still against the Mookie Betts trade, and I do not think the events of this year have dampened my lack of enthusiasm for such. For whatever “struggles” Betts has had this year, he entered Wednesday’s game with a 133 wRC+ on the year as compared with Alex Verdugo’s 113. They are not comparable players. If this team is built on the lie that they are, so be it. It’s hard to argue with the results, but it’s still a lie.
But, at this moment, what a sweet one eh? It’s a weird feeling: it’s extra special to be in this position because there’s no real reason the team should be in this position. Keep Mookie and the whole deal is different, and this year feels like a continuation of 2018 the way 2007 followed hard upon 2004, and the Sox, all other things being equal, are probably the odds-on favorite to Do The Damn Thing. That’s assuming a lot, of course, and you know what happens when you assume, naturally?
You’re usually right!
Whatever the alternate timeline position of the Sox, these Sox are as good as they could possibly be. They have all the pieces to win it all, provided Chris Sale comes back healthy. They have a rock-solid offensive core and a rock-solid bullpen. They have what you need to do the damn thing, no matter the persistence of (my) memory.
So will they? I don’t know! That’s way too hard to say. The playoffs exist to make fools of even mid-season predictions. If the Sox storm into the playoffs with the league’s top record and Sale gets hurt, they could be in trouble. They could also still win it all as they’re currently the top seed and he’s not even back yet. They could also simply make the World Series, probably against the Dodgers, and boy wouldn’t that be something?
The obstacles to merely getting there still exist, but with exactly half the season gone, some have already been surmounted. Specifically, the Yankees. They are not nearly as good as advertised. In fact, they’re probably exactly where I expected the Sox to be at this point and vice versa. That, as Jerry Seinfeld knows, is a shame.
The Blue Jays also are further in the rearview mirror than I anticipated they would be, as is, well, every team in the A.L. That said, the Rays and Astros do not mess around, and no matter how hard the Sox hit the throttle they’re likely to be back there, closer than they appear. The Astros are particularly scary because the Sox cannot seem to beat them, which is a problem when trying to win a title. You gotta beat ‘em all.
At this point, though, I will bask in my hilarious wrongness without remorse. I have said quite a lot about Chaim Bloom and ownership, and while ownership can still bite a Fenway Frank, Bloom really has done the thing. You do, in fact, have to hand it to him.