IN.

The Boston Red Sox, your division co-champions, seeded the Wild Card (or Wild Card for short, but I want to emphasize the fact that we tied for first, so we are co-champions) are headed to Chicago on Tuesday to begin a jaunt, reuniting with former friend Jose Contreras and catching up with Mark Buerhle and Freddy Garcia as well. Matt Clement will return to Chicago and pitch for only the second time since leaving the Cubs. The first time was the 21st of July, when he went six, coughing four runs up and seeing three home-runs leave the park. Carl Everett, Paul Konerko, and Aaron Rowand must be salivating at facing “MC Hammer” but not as much as I’m salivating facing a team who went 30-28 after August 1. Another team went 30-28 after August 1, and that was the rebuilding Rockies. I’m looking forward to facing a team whose main man, Scott Podsednik, has not been himself since injuring himself against (whoda thunk?) the crimson stockings themselves. August 12th was a loss for the team and for himself, and did not return until August 29 and has marked down (count them on one hand, please) FIVE stolen bases since then. April 4th to August 12th he notched 54 steals, but from then on, only five.
He’s much like Johnny Damon. He literally makes the offense go. While I’m confident Ozzie Guillen will attempt to let Podsednik fly more in the playoffs, he’s not going to be as disruptive as we’ve seen him be. I am by no means projecting a sweep or even a series win (postseason predictions are fickle like that) but I am certainly projecting that we won’t go down meekly. Mood swing alert: I’m confident about this team. Ask me that three days ago, go ahead. Ask me that three days from now, go ahead. Odds are you’ll get wildly different responses.
But yeah, I’m confident in this team. I’m not confident in Kevin Millar, but that’s another thing. Our offense is fine. Our starting pitching was actually pretty similiar to last year’s cumulative ERA, and our bullpen gets a lot stronger with the addition of Bronson Arroyo to it. We are still far from a pitching ballclub, but we’ll pitch better in the postseason than we did in the regular season. I think we can beat the White Sox. I think we can squeak out the ALCS, and I think if the cards fall the right way, we can win the World Series. I also think we could get swept in the World Series, endure a crushing loss in the ALCS, or stun the world by dropping like flies to the Pale Hose.
That’s postseason ball for you.
I attended the game Friday night, where we won behind David Wells on good pitching, batting, and fielding (in other words, the antichrist of Saturday’s game). During the game, I saw someone dressed like Darth Vader except all in black, he was all in red. It was an excellent uniform, I tried to take a picture but some head decided to jump in front of him as soon as I shot it, and then the next one was too blurry because I was trying to hurry and snap him and he was getting farther and farther away. Alas.
The National Anthem, John Olerud, Hanley Ramirez, and Edgar Renteria, A-Rod swings and misses v. Wells, Sox win!, Congratulations Mike Timlin! (with that appearance yesterday in the 10-1 romp, Timlin now holds the record for most appearances by a pitcher in a Red Sox uniform), Timlin closes the game (all these strikeouts! He’s really rising to the occasion…), Trot gets a RBI the easiest way – by walking, Booooomer, Welcome Wade Boggs!, Wade Boggs waves to the crowd, Hanley Ramirez.
Your two movies are 1) John Olerud knocking Manny in with a sacrifice fly and 2) Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang walking Damon to start the game.
CANDIDATES TO BE REMEMBERED BY GENERATIONS OF SOX FANS:
Kevin Millar. This year’s version of Derek Lowe? Awesome, then merely good, then crappy this year and he busts out in the postseason. He’s hot, too. He’s hitting .267/.338/.482 (Hey, all I care about from him is SLG). He could flip out and knock homeruns left and right, and we’ll cheer him on the way out, our hatred of him dissapating. Hey, it happened to Lowe, and the man had a 5.42 ERA all year starting for us! Not trying to take away what Lowe did for us in the postseason, but sheez, I hear people bowing to Lowe, and we forget that the division is probably ours if not for him. (And just as an aside, because it got buried, A-Rod would have given us the division last year, and probably this year too.)
David Ortiz. Wait, he already is.
Edgar Renteria. His fielding is better than this. We know that. He had a hot August, going .342/.391/.479, and started September well then flopped bigtime, hitting .224/.277/.319. A resurgence? Perhaps. Another series-winning hit? Please.
Bill Mueller. His sendoff? I’ve read that he and the Red Sox have privately agreed to part ways. The Red Sox to give Youkilis the starting job, Mueller to play closer to his home in Arizona (San Diego?). We could give Billy Ballgame, the Professional, a send off if he comes through for us. He seems to come through all the time, doing the little things – sacrifice flies, moving the runner over, getting a single to win the game, and oh yeah, he can whack homeruns, too. Mueller quietly had a solid year at .295/.369/.430, and we’d miss him.
Tony Graffanino: He’s done everything else for us, he could do more. Only in Boston does the #9 hitter hit .319/.355/.457 and he has a real chance to do damage down in the bottom of the order. He can get hits, get on base, act as a second leadoff man. He can knock in any stray runners on base once Manny and Ortiz do their damange. He can play, period.
Jonathan Papelbon. This guy could be the big reason why our bullpen will be good in the offseason. I love the combination of Chad Myers, Bronson Arroyo, Jonathan Papelbon, and Mike Timlin. Papelbon can be a dangerous weapon late in games, blazing fastballs by. If he can replicate his 2.65 ERA in the postseason (34.0 IP) then he’ll win us some games.
CANDIDATES TO FALL FLAT ON THEIR FACES AND BE REMEMBERED AS GOATS:
Kevin Millar. He certainly could rise to the occasion, but he could continue bringing NOTHING to this team. Seriously, nothing. Nothing with his glove, nothing with his bat. He finished at .272/.355/.399 and while he ended up with a respectable .283/.371/.440, I can swear to you, that didn’t do anything for us. I don’t know how he ended at a .440 SLG, but he did. He could make a key error, or leave men on base galore, and we won’t forget.
Edgar Renteria. Duh.
David Wells. We got him for big-game pitching. He turned in a worse than sounding 15-7, 4.45 ERA (184.0 IP) season, but that just won’t help in the playoffs. If he’s a big-game pitcher, he needs to be big-game. We won’t remember Schilling as a goat if he plays to his season ERA, but we will for Wells.
Jason Varitek. Heresy? He was great all year long, but then September arrived, and so did a hole in his bat. A .188/.289/.247 average is not only terrible, it’s Christian Guzman terrible. He can’t keep this up in the postseason, or we’ll remember the dissapearing act of Varitek.
My wild card dissapointment? Bronson Arroyo. 14-10 with a 4.51 ERA is fine, but it’s not what we were expecting. Many were calling for a breakout year, but now we know Arroyo is nothing better than a #4 or #5 starter, giving us what so many other pitchers can. That’s why I think he’s a candidate to be moved to the bullpen fulltime next year (he’s always done well in relief) and us signing someone similiar to Arroyo but with more endurance (or moving Papelbon to the rotation or retaining Wade Miller). Either way, Arroyo will be counted on heavily out of the bullpen, and he probably will be the difference.
Here’s the schedule, and I hope you all look at this and thank god we don’t fly 3,000 miles (something the Yankees had to do last night, I believe) and note that so far, we have two early evening games, so don’t forget to punch out of work an hour early.

Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago White Sox
Game    Matchup         Day     Date    Time            TV
Gm 1    BOS @ CWS       Tue     Oct. 4  4:00 P.M.       ESPN
Gm 2    BOS @ CWS       Wed     Oct. 5  7:00 P.M.       ESPN
Gm 3    CWS @ BOS       Fri     Oct. 7  4:00 P.M.       ESPN2
Gm 4*   CWS @ BOS       Sat     Oct. 8  TBA             TBA
Gm 5*   BOS @ CWS       Sun     Oct. 9  TBA             TBA