We are forty games into the 2009 Major League Baseball season. Attendance is dwindling. Players are being banned. Rangers are winning.
Seriously, the Rangers are winning.
And the Red Sox are in second place; exactly where we left off last year. Except this year the top dogs aren’t the (Devil) Rays, they’re the (Blue) Jays. The Yankees are on an eight-game tear and gaining; the Rays are struggling to find their place; and the Orioles wish they could lose as good as the nearby Nats do so they could have a shot at Stephen Strasburg.
Forty games in, there are some things we know and plenty of things we don’t.
Things We Know:
• Kevin Youkilis is tearing the hide off the ball. He’s tearing the hide off the hide. The baseball has to leave a report with the police after Kevin’s done with it. A .404 average through 26 games? I’m not sure if he’s hitting the ball with his bat or his hideously gigantic skull; either way, he’s making contact. If he can get over this oblique nonsense (Thanks WBC!) he should be the front-runner for AL MVP this season. (Sorry Dusty.) That is if Crawford, Longoria and Kinsler cut it out. (Cut it out, jerks!)
• Tim Wakefield is not of this earth. Tim Wakefield hails from the planet Knucklos, where old men throw motionless orbs at one another in a vain attempt to communicate. Wake, our future pitching coach, is 5-2 and actually getting run support for once in his life. Not sure if he can keep it up for the next three quarters, but this first quarter has been vintage Wakefield.
• Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez are really, really good. Papelbon and Masterson are doing their thing too, but Manny and Ramon have been exceptional up to this point. ERAs under one. Shutdown pitches. WHIPs lower than Ortiz’s belt. They have become our reliable sixth/seventh/eighth inning guys and our bullpen is one of the main reasons we’re still ahead of New York and Tampa Bay right now.
• ‘Coby’s feet. The real ‘Coby. The one that people like. The one who knows that no means no. Jacoby Ellsbury has overcome his sophomore slump and is a blur on the basepaths and in the field. Everybody’s favorite Navajo is quickly becoming one of the league’s premier center fielders. The only problem? He’s stealing all our women. Give us back our women, you greedy bastard!
• Jason [Expletive Deleted] Bay. The crafty Canadian is having a Manny-esque start to 2009 out in left. Second in home runs and RBI with a .303 average. Maybe Canadians aren’t so bad after all.
Things We Don’t Know
• Is Papi back? The return of Youk definitely helps Ortiz’s production, as we witnessed Wednesday night. Can he keep it up? Has he gotten over the drought? Even in his best seasons, Manny would go through similar (though not quite as long) stints with little production. Perhaps Ortiz just had a fluky first quarter. There’s no question he’s not the man he was in our two championship seasons, but if we can get even half of what he used to be for the rest of this season we could be in good shape. For now, it looks like Tito won’t have to implement my “drop him to the seven-hole” plan from two weeks ago.
• Is Jon Lester pitching hurt? A 2-4 record and an ERA nearing seven. The southpaw’s struggles have been, luckily for him, overshadowed by the big ‘ol Dominican on the other side of the locker room. He’s still only 25 (a couple months younger than me) and only entering his third year as a regular rotation starter. Junior Slump?
• How in holy heck is Brad Penny 4-1? The man who looks like a fatter Derek Lowe has been wild as wild gets in his eight starts this season, and yet he can’t stop winning. I s’pose there’s nothing to complain about for now, but can the erratic 31-year-old keep it up?
• Can Dice-K and Smoltz bounce back from injury? Dice-K: Yes. Smoltz: Meh. Matsuzaka gets his first test on Friday against the Mets. (I’m practically drooling at that matchup.) Once again, thanks WBC. Smoltz will start his rehab with the Greenville Drive later today (Thursday). You’re goin’ down, Augusta Greenjackets!
• Is Josh Beckett dead? Nope. Still alive. But reeling. Beckett's our ace. Our Game 1/Game 4/Game 7 starter in a must-win/do-or-die series with the Texas Rangers in October. The 4-2 record's alright, but the 5.85 ERA has to go down and it has to go down now. The run support isn't always gonna be there. A bit worrisome.
• CAN TORONTO BE STOPPED?!!! My professional opinion? No. They are unstoppable. We must all bow down to our new Canadian overlords. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 World Series Champions: The Toronto Blue Jays! (jinxjinxjinx)
All-in-all, the first quarter of 2009 has been about as productive as we could expect. Hopefully the injury bug has passed and it’ll be smooth sailing from here on out. The Pats couldn’t do it. The Bruins couldn’t do it. The Celtics couldn’t do it.
Can the Sox defy the odds and bring home a ring in 2009?
No! Toronto’s gonna win, dummy!