Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mid-Season Thoughts

Like the Red Sox, I've been taking a few days to catch my breath - and get rested for the second half of the season. In many ways it's been a dream first half - in first place by 10 games, the Yankees in chaos, our pitchers pitching well.

Here are some of my favorite moments from the first half of the 2007 season:
1. May 13th - the Mother's Day miracle. The Sox come back with six runs in the bottom of the 9th - what more can you ask for?

2. Red Sox players hit four home runs back to back. Unbelievable.

3. Curt's near no-hitter in Anaheim. I was on the edge of my seat those last few innings - when I wasn't pacing the room.

4. Hinske's face plant catch in right. Wow.

5. Ortiz, caught in a run down between 1st and 2nd, decided to hug the 2nd baseman. Awesome.

6. Pizza gate!

7. Manny pets Tavarez in the dugout. I couldn't stop laughing for an inning.

8. Our two fantastic Japanese acquisitions. We had high expectations for Dice-K, but no one expected the kind of performances we've seen by Okajima. I'm so glad he was chosen for the All-Star game - so well deserved.

9. Our Bull Pen. Yes, we all know pitching is what makes the difference, and it's been so nice to be on the positive side of that equation for once. Not only have they been effective, Francona has used them effectively!

10. Youks! Talk about coming into your own. He's been outstanding this year - grinding out at-bats, playing some great defensive first base - and even hitting an inside the park home run.

11. Beckett. That's all you need to say. Let's hope Joshua Patrick can continue strong in the second half, because we really need him.

12. The promise of the future: Jacoby Ellsbury. Fast! And such a great human interest story - the first Navajo to play in the majors.

As for the second half of the season:
1. The offense needs to heat up. Our two biggest bats, Ortiz and Manny, are not playing up to their usual level - Manny only has 11 home runs, Ortiz 14. I'm not sure injury is a factor (I heard today that Ortiz is having an MRI in Boston today), or just haven't shaken off the off-season dust yet. But if we're to stay in first place - and if we hope to go beyond the first round of the playoffs - they've got to get locked in.

2. Lugo and Drew. I've been unimpressed with them so far, but I'm willing to cut them a little more slack. We're in first and have that luxury. Lugo showed some signs of life in the last few games, so maybe he's ready to explode. I like Drew, but he's not producing at the appropriate times. So come on you two, get with it!

3. We also need the Yankees to continue to struggle. Or maybe not. We've shown some signs of complacency of late - and the rest of our scheduled is packed with lesser teams. If we hope to make a place for ourselves in the playoffs, we need to stay sharp - or get sharper. A surging Yankee team might motivate our guys a little more. Or it could kill our chances. So, okay, let's hope the Yankees continue to play mediocre, less than 500 ball.



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