Columnists, Sports

Indirect Kick: How ‘Bout Them Red Sox?

The winter sports season for collegiate athletics has, sadly, come to a close. Following the Duke University men’s basketball team’s triumph in the National Championship game and the Providence College men’s hockey team’s heartbreaking 4-3 victory over Boston University in Saturday’s National Final, it has been easy to forget that the Major League Baseball season has started. While many local sports fans have been immersed in both the NCAA Basketball Tournament and the Frozen Four, there has been no realization that the Boston Red Sox have started the 2015 season on a winning track.

Monday served as Fenway Park’s opening day, marking the unofficial start of summer for Bostonians. Baseball fans across the region have reason to feel optimistic about the upcoming Red Sox campaign. After an impressive offseason, complete with the signings of Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramírez, Wade Miley, Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson, the Sox look like a whole new team.

The 2015 spring training campaign was one of the best in recent memory, showcasing not only the depth of the Sox, but also the skillset of all the players and prospects. For example, much hype has been given to the Red Sox acquisition of Cuban sensations Rusney Castillo and Yoan Moncada. However, neither is starting the season at the major league level. Castillo will play at Triple-A affiliate Pawtucket Red Sox while Moncada will stay down at Fort Myers, Florida, and continue playing in extended simulated games.

Despite such a promising spring, there have already been a few injury setbacks. First and foremost, starting catcher Christian Vázquez has been ruled out for the 2015 season with a serious elbow injury, requiring Tommy John surgery to fix it. Starting pitcher Joe Kelly had a bicep injury in spring training and has recovered to start the season on time.

There is also a great deal of concern about Shane Victorino, who has dealt with nagging injury problems since joining the team. He is healthy at the moment, but being used very sparingly and cautiously.

There is already discussion of who will win the World Series among many baseball fans and overpaid ESPN analysts. I guess rushing through the summer so they can cover LeBron James again makes them experts for October baseball, when literally anything can happen.

But seriously, who will win the World Series and can it be the Red Sox? There are 30 teams, and I believe 29 … OK 30 (sorry New York Yankees fans) can make it to and win the World Series. It’s just too early to tell. It isn’t necessarily who has the best team. It’s about who is playing good baseball down the stretch and staying healthy.

The Red Sox have had a problem with playing well in September and staying healthy. Back in 2011, Terry Francona’s final season with the Sox, the team went an abysmal 7-20 in September, losing the American League East division title and a playoff spot.

The following season, under one-year manager Bobby Valentine, the injury-plagued Sox finished the season 69-93. There was a question as to whether the record or injury problems were worse. By the end of the year, attendance was so bad the Sox began to give away tickets, and fans inquired if they were at a Boston or Pawtucket Red Sox game. Had the Red Sox stayed healthy, they may have potentially qualified for the playoffs.

So how ‘bout them Red Sox? Yeah they’ve been good so far, but a week into the season is no time to judge. They will be good if they stay healthy and play consistent baseball. In 2013, they were a good baseball team, but not the best by a long shot. The Red Sox beat the best team, the Detroit Tigers, in the AL Championship Series. The reason: they were playing consistently better baseball.

Pitching is also a key to being a contender. In 2013, the Red Sox had a stellar starting five. Last year, along with 2011 and 2012, the Red Sox had an injury-plagued pitching rotation and bullpen. If they can stay healthy in that regard as well, then they will be a force to be reckoned with in October.

So as the weather continues to improve and the baseball season unfolds, you can expect many analysts trying to decipher who will be making it to the Fall Classic. However, it can only be determined by who enters September healthy and with the best pitching staff.

As far as the Red Sox making the World Series, they certainly have a balanced pitching rotation. For them, it’s all about staying healthy and playing at the top level during crunch time.

So until then, stop rushing away the summer by predicting the World Series and just enjoy America’s favorite pastime in the summer weather.

More Articles

Daniel Shulman is a sophomore at Boston University majoring in Journalism through the College of Communication. A native of Stoughton, Dan is a sports fanatic who loves everything Boston sports related. He is currently a Sports Hawk at the Boston Globe in the High School sports department. He is also a statistician for both Men’s and Women’s Soccer and Men’s Ice Hockey. Aside from writing, Dan has an interest in music, movies and cooking.

Comments are closed.