Monday, July 11, 2005

Half way

Well we have reached the half way point represented by the All Star Game - always a good point to look back... and forward.

Looking back to my pre-season review I think I need to make a strong, "well we are only half way through" defense - at least three out of six divisions have my prediction on top at this point.

The Sox, Angels, and Cardinals - hardly the bravest picks I made - are on top, but I had the current AL Central leaders in third place, the Nationals comfortably last in the NL East and the Padres in second. Only half way through, but I struggle to see the Dodgers, Twins and Marlins all coming through for me. The only other defense I have is that I wasn't alone in being so far off about the White Sox and the Nationals

I think it has been a strange half as a Sox fan - I can at least console myself that I am not a Yankee fan - but this team is just missing something that I can't quite put my finger on. The common argument that I hear in NY is that I should be worried - we are only 2.5 games ahead, and the Yankees have played this badly - my response is simple, that the Yankees should be worried, the Sox are 2.5 games ahead, and they have played this badly...

It may be something as simple as reliable arms in the bullpen, or a 1st baseman that isn't the offensive hole that is Kevin Millar, but I doubt it, it is something more to do with the spirit of the team. The comments in the last weeks from Keith Foulke and Johnny Damon, the outburst from Jay Payton that led to him being DFA'd, and a few other comments that have leaked into the Boston press are a symptom of a certain malaise, where players, fresh off a long dreamed for championship season, are unsure of the power they hold, and are not quite sure what to do with it. The comments by a few players suggest to me that there is a mentality at play that says, but we delivered the championship that you wanted... what more do we have to do...?

My hope is that as the season nears its "business end" that the required focus that will support a serious run at a repeat championship will develop, but I really don't have a lot of confidence that this will be the case. But maybe that is what the players expect deep down - do they need the doubt? In the last couple of seasons, there has always been that point - a certain crisis of confidence in the stands and in the press that has allowed the team to say... you don't believe in us? we don't care, we know how good we are - will that moment come this season? and if not...

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