There’s only so much to write about during a lockout, at least for big-picture stuff. For that reason I’m forced to do my 1,000-foot view stuff by largely repeating myself. Sorry if this offends, but not really, because I didn’t choose this work stoppage, nor did the players. Rob Manfred, prodded by the owners, chose this work stoppage. If this is too repetitive for you, complain to him.
Before we get into it, though, a quick note about the team with respect to the lockout. Who are the Red Sox, anyway? Philosophically, that is. Who gets to call themselves a member of the Red Sox? Is is the owner or is it the players on the team? Is John Henry the Red Sox, or are the players on the team the Red Sox?
Spoiler alert: It’s the players on the team. That might not seem like a controversial statement, but go to MLB.com and you won’t see a word about them until the lockout is over. To the league, the Red Sox are the history and the logo and everything but the players.
It’s a preposterous situation. It’s the second preposterous situation for the league in three years, with the first only partially its fault. It seems incredible now that the league played a single game in 2020, and not in a good way. Kudos to the Red Sox for effectively not participating in the sham.
Last year was great, though. With the exception of a second-half swoon and a distinct lack of leadership on COVID issues, everything came up Boston. I can’t even be mad about them losing the ALCS because they were in the ALCS, and that alone was good enough for me, mostly because they beat the Yankees and Rays to get there.
Okay, more than “mostly.” Quite a bit, actually.
Now we’re staring down the barrel of a June start, not to mention some likely regression for our boys. The Chaim Bloom operation is a long-term project to eventually compete every year, but 2021 was ahead of schedule, and I expect 2022 to be so as well. They won’t have to wait for 18-year-old Marcelo Mayer to make the show to be perennial top-shelf title favorites, but they might have to wait until next year.
Put another way, last year was a bridge year, just like the one before it and the one coming up. That’s how long the bridge is: Three years.
It does not mean the Sox cannot compete this year. They can, which we learned last year. It just means other teams are just as good or better and starting from a higher level of expected finish, even if the Sox add Japanese star Seiya Suzuki, as seems at least possible. The Rays and Yankees are still the Rays and Yankees, and now the Blue Jays are the Rays and Yankees too, unless they’re better, which is entirely possible. Only the Orioles, as usual, are fully out of the pictures, but even that could change in the next few years.
On the one hand, playing the AL East kinda stinks when everyone in this good. On the other hand, steel sharpens steel, and a tough division makes for thrilling games in the day to day, which is what the baseball season is truly about. The World Series is just there to give it all a happy ending, albeit for one team.
Make no mistake: I’d like the Red Sox to win the World Series and when they get to the point that not winning it is disappointing, I will be disappointed. I am just not at that point. I’m on the bridge, and I’m doing what I usually do when I’m on a bridge: Enjoying the view.