I’ve loved baseball for nearly my whole life. I love the Red Sox. I absolutely lucked out living in the 20th century, where they finally won a championship after a huge drought that I didn’t really experience, then two more. Given the tremendous young players on the roster, they could end up winning again sometime soon. But alas, I dont love this team. In fact, I dont like it.
Mookie Betts is one of the best young players in the game. Jockey Bradley Jr. is a stellar defender, and is improving offensively. Andrew Benintendi has shown a tremendous potential in his first year or so of play. Xander Bogaerts is among the best shortstops, and would probably be if he could hit for power. Christian Vasquez is an excellent defensive shortstop and has been improving his hitting as well. The bullpen has been great so far collectively this year, and Chris Sale is one of the best pitchers in the MLB. Pomeranz, Porcello, Rodriguez, Price, all of them have put out solid starts. Dustin Pedroia has been mostly fine. Newcomer Mitch Moreland is tearing it up too.
That all sounds positive, right? Sounds like I really like a lot of the team. Of course I do. There’s a lot of talent on the roster. But I don’t like the team the way it is right now.
There is no real dominating personality to say “he’s the face of the team”. Sale is a tough, gritty kind of guy, but he doesnt do enough to really jump out. The young guys, all of whom have names that start with B, have likeable but somewhat vanilla personalities. Price is the only pitcher that seems to deviate from the “all business” script, and he went from “I want everyone to like me” to “fuck you and your media” in the span of a few months. I’ve always liked Dustin Pedroia as a player, but he’s not vocal enough to even come close to Big Papi’s level of leadership, and at times he’s even seemed to throw the team under the bus (Baltimore earlier this year). Besides the personality, or lack thereof, they play a small-ball type of offense: lots of singles, steals, and aggressive baserunning. Not a ton of extra base hits, 26th in the MLB in homers. It’s BORING, especially when they fail to get on base in succession (lots of stranded runners). It’s frustrating when they get thrown out while getting overly aggressive to make up for their lack of power, or when their pitching gives up runs early as they are wont to do.
But two things frustrate me more about the team than anything else:
- Pablo. He got an enormous contract, and underperformed. And injured, or the team fudged it a bit. Then all he was asked to do was NOT BE FAT AND LAZY, and he couldn’t do that. And of course, Travis Shaw was traded, but management is a story for another day. So now a revolving door of lazy and unmotivated guys, or utility infielders who aren’t talented enough to start regularly, or hopeful prospects who aren’t ready yet, is what we get in this black hole of a this base position that is certainly dragging the team down.
- Hanley. When he tries, and wants to play, he’s a monster hitter. He has the potential to blast homers left and right. But he can’t stay motivated. He doesn’t try every game. It’s painfully clear that he’s content with making a huge salary to only try sometimes. He’s disagreeable when he’s not doing great, and he even threatened that he wouldn’t perform well (probably intentionlly) if he played first base once in a while to give Moreland a day off.
I love the Red Sox. But this year I hate them. I still support them 100%, but given the talent on the roster I expected a lot more. And I still do. I wouldn’t be shocked if they win the AL, or contend in the ALCS. I also wouldn’t be shocked if they collapse and lose in the wild card round. And I hate that I feel that way. As the summer goes on, I hope every week that they’ll give me something I can point to and believe they’ll live up to their potential.