Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Game 85: The Young Upstarts

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 4, Tampa Bay Rays 5

I’m afraid again. It has been awhile since I’ve felt the fear of not being the best, the fear of another supplanting your dominance or unwillingness to relinquish their own. In 2003 and 2004 that fear was instilled in me by the Yankees. They were the team to beat for over 20 years… and historically over the last 75. When the Sox got over that hump and won in 2004, I knew it was going to take a lot to bring that fear back.

Last year, the Sox put that fear into everyone else. They looked like favorites, played like favorites and powered through the season and postseason like favorites. I knew they were the top dogs, the kings of the hill and unfortunately, the team with the target on their back. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

Now every young gun, every piss and vinegar filled jack-rabbit wants to take a run at the big boy. Knock the Sox off their pedestal. And as you can see… the Rays are throwing rocks that have been hitting their mark.

This game was a microcosm of the year at large. A defacto spot starter-turned 4th starter (Masterson) pitched just well enough to lose and the offense hit just well enough to miss a rally in the 9th. I’m not one to blame Lugo… oh wait… yes I am! Nevermind.

Maybe it’s the injuries (we miss Papi) or maybe it’s the lack of consistency (the bullpen is insane) but the Sox aren’t making the plays, placing the pitches or getting the hits that a champ would in their situation. What’s truly freighting… is that the Rays are doing all those things.

They are too young to know complacency, too fresh to weaken and too good to dismiss.

The Sox are a team of power and intimidation… so why is Tampa making eye contact and waiting for us to blink? This may be the year they learn not to back down. I hope I’m wrong.