Saturday, August 2, 2008

Where Goes the Nation?

So what is the “State of the Nation” now? I’ve watched the Manny fiasco ad nauseum over the past 48 hours and I’ve reached a conclusion. The word from the hierarchy was that Manny’s behavior had become intolerable. Owner John Henry is one of the best from the perspective of the players and the fans. He has been fair and generous. I think that once Manny began to berate the ownership, Henry had had enough. It was time for Manny to go. Enough said!

But where does this leave the Red Sox? Prior to the trade, they were a dysfunctional team. The bottom third of their lineup has been woefully lacking. Although the Sox have the second best batting average in the AL, all to often they leave runners stranded as they did last night, leaving 15 on in a 12 inning 2-1 victory against Oakland. Papi has never regained mid-season form., leaving a big gap in the middle of the order ( the nickname Papi has come to mean pop-out). The shortstop position may have been strengthened with the addition of Jed Lowrie after Julio Lugo went down with a hamstring strain, both offensively and defensively. The trade for Jason Bay is intriguing. He certainly offers better defense, once he learns the peculiarities of left field at Fenway. And as evidenced in last night’s game, the hustle factor will certainly be an improvement, but with the team struggling offensively, how will this all shake out? Last night Bay’s hustle in the 12th resulted in a triple which ultimately ended the game when Lowrie grounded up the middle. Had Manny been at the plate, it would have been a single or at most a double, and a run doesn’t score.

The pitching has been good but not great. The starting rotation has by and large been intact but with Okajima’s inconsistencies, the pen is not as nearly as dependable as it was last year. It has seemed that when the Sox score runs, the pitching fails; and when the pitching is there, as it was last night, Boston can’t score runs.

So the agony is over but there is still much baseball to play. The Sox are definitely in a pennant race, but the have several big series left, including home and home against the Chisox and of course the Rays and the Yankees. I guess the best we can say is, “Let’s enjoy the action and have a good time for the rest of the season. And if the Sox can’t pull it all together for the rest of the season, well, that’s why football follows baseball.

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