It almost offends me.
The Sox, if you ask any number of pundits, or if you ask any number of fans, are a failure this year.
Their starting pitchers are pitching considerably worse than they did last year.
Meanwhile, the star rookie, the "next Jack McDowell" is wasting away in the bullpen. "Start McCarthy!" they all scream.
The other supposed star rookie, the center fielder, is struggling at the plate in ways we never thought possible and is being benched in favor of, well, bench players.
The star relievers of last year, with the exception of Big Bobby Jenks, are shells of their former selves.
The leadoff hitter, who last year was the darling of this little town, has lost a step since getting hurt last August and has been brought down a notch or two by the same people who made him a star.
Worst of all, two teams currently have better records - in their own division.
What are we, the hungry fans, to do?
Simple: calm down.
How quickly we forget what it was like all those years when the Sox had nothing. When the season was over in May and the best we could hope for at the ballpark was a fight breaking out on the field or, better yet, in a section near us. When the highlight of August was knowing that we made another team's run to the playoffs take another day because we might have taken one of three games.
How quickly we forget what it's like to watch a playoff race from the driver's seat. How quickly we forget that there are other good teams in baseball. How quickly we forget, unless you're a Yankees or Red Sox fan, that there should be other good teams in baseball.
Competition, suspense, drama: these are what make for great theater. The way some look to the stage, we as baseball fans look to the diamond. Perhaps our frustration stems not from the fact that we have these things peppered among the rest of our season, but that we simply don't know what to do with them.
The Good Guys' next six games are against the two worst teams in the American League, and it's safe to say that these are the most important games of the year. Not because the Royals and Devil Rays have awful records, but because from here on out every game is the most important game of the year.
The Tigers have managed to come out of nowhere and rule the league for most of the year. The Twins went ahead and beat the Sox at their own game, much in the same way last year's Sox beat the Twins at theirs. It's foolish to wait for other teams to just lose x number of games against such-and-such team. I'd take more comfort knowing my favorite team made the playoffs because they were good, not because everyone else was bad.
Some of you will come back with something that starts with "But last year..." and to that I just say stop. Last time I checked, last year is over. If you want to play by last year's parameters then the Tigers and are going to magically lose 50 games in the next 30 days and someone owes Cleveland a few promotions in the standings. While you're at it, put Carl Everett at DH instead of Jim Thome and bring back Cliff Politte to replace Mike MacDougal.
Suddenly, last year doesn't look so good does it?
As long as the Sox are still in it, there is no last year. Not now anyway. Not with a month to go. Not with the difference in the Wild Card leader and sitting the playoffs out being a mere one-half of a game.
One-half! And some of you are already throwing in the towel! Sports writers, I understand your reasoning a little better. You're just doing your job; the favorites failing is as much a story as the underdog succeeding. But for the rest of us...come on. Don't lose hope just yet. Not until you can give me a better reason to than "dude, like, we're not in first place."
Why am I so optimistic? Because, for the time being, there's still this year.
And it feels so good to be able to say that. Talk to me again in October.