Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Erin Andrews in a Papelbon Jersey

First of all, I am pretty sure, there is nothing more oddly attractive then Erin Andrews filling a spot for ESPN's broadcast of last night's game in a loosely buttoned Jon Papelbon jersey. Nevermind the fact that she probably knows less about baseball than my pinky-toe, yet gets paid to spend every day with professional baseball players, solely because she is pleasant to look at. For about 5 minutes there I was wondering if the Sox could make an 11th hour trade deadline deal of Papelbon straight up for Erin Andrews. Given what the Red Sox did with their other major deadline acquisitions and given the whole "Yankees fleecing the entire state of Pennsylvania" thing, the Sox seem to have an uphill battle ahead of them anyway. The least we could have as fans, is Erin Andrews in the bullpen in a jersey and hot-pants. Lets make this happen, Theo.

Because, let's be honest. Theo certainly didn't make anything else happen. Am I upset about that? Sure. Do I think it severely limits the teams ability to win the AL East or even make a playoffs push given the moves made by other contenders? Absolutely. While it is easy to look at this deadline myopically (and plenty of sports writers are doing so) the bigger picture is really what the Sox have in mind. Did Theo and the brain-trust potentially sacrifice a shot at the playoffs this year for potential to excel down the road? That remains to be seen, but what is certain is, the Sox have committed to a philosophy that promises to keep the Sox competitive for years to come, and furthermore--and I say this with no sense of hyperbole--makes it more fun for the fans. Now, granted, nothing is more fun than watching your team win a play-offs series (especially if it is over your rivals, or it is the World Series) but in modern baseball, with a few exceptions like the Braves, team loyalty for the fans truly has turned into "rooting for teh laundry."

With free-agency, the yearly salary dumping by teams like this year's Phillies and Pirates, and the tendency over the past 10-15 years to trade youthful promise for high-priced talent, it is hard to identify with players, and much easier to simply identify with a team, even if that team is constantly in flux--a veritable wind-mill of all-stars and veteran utility men--something like a fantasy team. Now I love fantasy baseball, but I also think there is something to be said for following a guy like Jonathan Papelbon from AA ball to a spot in the Major League Bullpen, don't Red Sox fans enjoy his success more than will Dodgers fans enjoy the first Win Greg Maddux wraps up in his new, and awkward uniform? Maybe it is sour grapes, but the thought of Roy Oswalt winning 7 or 8 down the stretch for the Sox is exciting, sure, but not nearly as enticing as the thought of a pitching staff that includes 4 guys I have followed from their minor league struggles, through their MLB debuts.

While I understand the need for National Networks--ok, National Network--to fill time and stir the pots of interest (gotta keep that rivalry going or ratings will dip in August) I couldn't be less impressed than I am by these immediate "grade the deadline" segments they run. Forgive me if the fact that Steve Phillips think the Red Sox are losers doesn't make me too worried about the team's prospects this year. After all, Steve Phillips wasn't even good enough to be the General Manager of a team that traded one of the best future prospects in recent memory for this guy. Talk about myopic.

So this might be a rough two months for myself, and any other Red Sox fan. We may, indeed, be forced to watch the likes of Jason Johnson give away game after game, while Bobby Abreu hits his stride and goes yard on Sports Center every night. Alas, we still have a bright future to look forward to, and can continue to root for the same guys we always have. And should they win the World Series in 2008, well...then that will make the champagne taste all the better.

Having Said all that I still see the sox winning 96 games. The question now, is whether two of the other three (Yankees, Twins or White Sox) can win more. As long as the Sox have Papi, Manny, Schilling and Papelbon, I say they are in the race.


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