It is a sunny summer afternoon next August, the humidity is low in New England, and the Red Sox are playing a Saturday matinee. They’re enjoying a comfortable 10 games in first place in the weak AL East, and all is right with the universe.
When you look on the patio in the back of my house, you find me grilling burgers and hot dogs, wielding a spatula while swilling a can of beer. The baseball game is on the radio and Joe Castiglione has the call.
And what’s that you hear beyond the static din of baseball noises on the radio broadcast—the crack of the bat, the sound of the ball slapping the catcher’s mitt, the hum of the home crowd? It’s a bird on a bough singing a sweet bird song to me and Red Sox fans everywhere.
You may have noticed that I’m not yelling. I’m not pitching a conniption fit during one of those dog days of summer games because I know that the postseason is in the bag. There are no worries with this sterling rotation. With the Red Sox securely in first place, my teenage daughter has stopped rolling her eyes at me.
“I love you, Daddy,” she says as I place a burger on her plate.
“I love you, too, my sweet girl.”
“Do you love as much as you love the 2017 Red Sox starting rotation?”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, dear.” End scene. Fin.
Right now, in March, it’s a brutally cold weekend, and I’m watching a spring training game against Atlanta that has the excitement factor of waiting for a dog to fart. But it’s baseball so I’ll take it, and for the first time in years, I’m calm.
However, something needs to be made abundantly clear, here and now: With the Red Sox line-up and this gorgeous rotation, anything short of the aforementioned August day I just described and the ALCS in October will be a failure in my mind.
While there was barely enough Xanax in circulation to get me through last week’s David Price Tommy John surgery scare, the pieces have remained in place. And, yes, Price has been atrocious in the postseason. I get it. But aside from a healthy Cleveland (maybe Kansas City), no one in the AL should contend with the Red Sox.
With Chris Sale, the reigning Cy Young Rick Porcello, and Price, whose talent (we hope) exceeds the pay-off so far; with a right-fielder who if Mike Trout, the Willie Mays of this generation, didn’t exist would’ve won an MVP last season; with the top prospect in baseball playing left field and an immensely talented shortstop who underperformed the second half of last season, anything less than the ALCS…unacceptable.
“My love, can I get you another beer?” My wife asks next August.
“Maybe one more,” I say. “I don’t want to have too much.”
“Drink up, handsome,” she says and kisses my cheek. “The Red Sox are in first place. You can relax now.”
“If they weren’t, I’d be worried.”