Well, well, well. If social media were any sign of the intelligence of the human race, I would fear very much for the fate of mankind. After a lifeless, embarrassing, depressing showing in the opening series of the season, the Red Sox have essentially managed to hit the reset button like me after losing a game during Madden franchise mode.
I hope some of you that were calling for Chaim Bloom to be put out to pasture and John Henry to sell the team after the first three games are reading this, because I will be laughing at your immature foolishness the entire time that I write this column.
Before the season began, it looked like the Red Sox were going to look like a Detroit Tigers team from the 1990s: an offensive juggernaut that can’t get anyone out. After three godawful losses to the Orioles, the result was the exact opposite. Nathan Eovaldi and Tanner Houck were nails in the first two games, only to be let down by a completely dead offense that couldn’t scratch consecutive hits together to save their lives. Sure, Garrett Richards was as crappy as advertised, but it was the offense that really let them down while being swept by a team that will be lucky to not set a new single season record for losses. The defense did them no favors either, with Rafael Devers regressing to 2018 levels of ineptitude at third base and Kike Hernandez making a particularly horrible gaffe on a potential inning-ending double play ball.
Boy, I thought the cowards were jumping off the bandwagon before the season started. Little did I know that not only has the pink hat Red Sox fanbase dwindled exponentially, but the ship jumpers are a really vocal bunch of cretins. All I read online after the O’s left town was Mookie Betts this and Andrew Benintendi that and, oh by the way, the team is way too woke.
Seriously? Is it really a surprise that a billion dollar corporation that operates in a state that is bluer than Dr. Manhattan’s johnson is going to lean heavily Democratic?
Then the defending American League champion Tampa Bay Rays came to town. Three days later, Bloom’s job is safe, the team has some fight, and wokeness doesn’t seem to be destroying New England.
All of a sudden, the Red Sox look like the team that a lot of optimists hoped to see this year: a team with some surprisingly talented starting pitchers and an offense that can put a hurtin’ on you really quick. Was it a perfectly played series? No, although the twelve-inning game on Tuesday night, complete with three late-inning Boston comebacks, was a barnburner. Tampa did themselves no favors in the field, especially in the train wreck fifth inning on Wednesday afternoon, but the Sox took advantage of those mistakes and made them pay each time, which is what good teams are supposed to do. JD Martinez is proving what I thought all along in 2020: that he is a creature of in-game video study and the pandemic rules disallowing players from analyzing tape during games absolutely killed his season. Now that he’s back at the office with the shackles off, JD is showing us all once again that he is a damn monster at the plate. If not for the groin-grabbingly awesome recovery story of Trey Mancini, I’d have JD slotted as a shoe-in for 2021 Comeback Player of the Year.
And how about Christian Vasquez? At the beginning of 2019, Vasquez quietly made the leap from typical weak-hitting catcher with a bit of pop to legitimate power threat, with 23 home runs in 2019 and 7 last year in 47 games. Other than Bogaerts, Martinez, and Devers, I feel more confident with this guy at the plate than anyone else on the team. Of course, I’m not too modest to point out that I personally developed a soft spot for Christian a tad before then.
Maybe the Rays are going to suffer from a huge World Series hangover this year and their team isn’t nearly as good as it was last year, rendering this week’s sweep much ado about nothing. Maybe the Orioles are going to defy the odds and run roughshod on the American league in 2021, rendering this past weekend’s sweep far less embarrassing in hindsight. Neither of those scenarios is likely. The only thing we can be sure of is that baseball is the most unpredictable sport there is, and nobody should be stupid enough to overreact one way or another after three games, even if those three games were losses to the freaking Orioles.
We’re 6 games into a 162-game season. And so far, the Red Sox are average. Not too bad, not too good. Some things look promising, some things look worrisome. But my message for now is this:
If you’ve already jumped off the bandwagon, don’t even think of jumping back on board.
This ride is closed.