Last year, everyone was talking about how bad Jason Varitek was hitting and whether or not the Sox would re-sign their aging and slumping captain. In April and May, everyone was wondering if Big Papi was simply finished. In the off-season, fans wondered just how long Tim Wakefield was going to stay in the lineup.
No one is saying that now.
Tim Wakefield is, deservedly so, and All-Star. He’s been the Red Sox most consistent pitcher this season, the first on the team to 10 wins, and has had very few “bad” games. He has a chance to notch his 11th win before the All-Star break. I’m pretty sure no one even considered that this winter.
I didn’t even consider it and I’m a fan of Wake!
But Wakefield never had any expectations on him. He simply flew under the radar, and was even considered to be the “weak link” in the much-touted Red Sox pitching staff. Expectations were high for Beckett, Lester, and Dice-K while Penny was the question mark and Wake was the starter, for now, who might get put in the bull pen to make room for Smoltz or Buchholz.
Lester and Beckett struggled in April. Penny’s been surprising. Dice-K is on the DL. And Wake has been great. Lester and Beckett have bounced back and are their ace-like selves again, but it is nice to know that the Red Sox have that anchor in Tim Wakefield.
There’s something to be said about flying under the radar. No one is talking about Jason Varitek. Why? Because there’s nothing to say! He’s not getting into terrible slumps, he’s one homer and four doubles away from tying his 2008 numbers, his OBP is up and his strike outs are way down. Further proof that maybe last year was a fluke.
Yes, he’s getting old, and yes, his stats are going to decline, but this season has been good to Varitek. He’s not mentioned in the news unless he has a good night. He’s certainly not hitting at a great major league level, but he’s batting .243.
He’s not an automatic out anymore. And that’s why no one is saying a word about him. And that’s a good thing.
Same with Papi. Before he hit his first home run, every at bat was scrutinized, every hit brought with it questions of age and bat speed. He slumped through April and May, and then things started to turn around.
Papi hit .320 in June with 7 of his 9 home runs. And the media coverage of David Ortiz’s every at-bat stopped.
Most of the player-focused media has left Boston largely alone recently. Why? Because they aren’t a much of a story. The team is playing well, the staff is pitching well, and aside from Mike Lowell returning after the All-Star break and the question of when and if Clay Buchholz will make his return to the Majors, there aren’t a lot of questions swirling around about the Red Sox.
Consistancy is boring. Consistancy does not make it on Sportscenter, usually. Manny Ramirez getting himself tossed from the game does.
The Red Sox certainly aren’t flying under the radar. They have the best record in the American League, the first team to have two 10-win pitchers, and are sending the most players to the All-Star game. Everyone knows they are good, that they have a great pitching staff, a balanced line-up that can hit from the top to the bottom, and a phenomenal bull pen.
But with all that, they aren’t making headlines. Headlines are not necessarily good. Do you think all the Dodger players are happy that America is suddenly interested in them again solely because Manny is back? Do you think the Cubs are happy that everyone is talking about how their new owner way overpaid? Especially when the Cubs are nothing to write home about?
So let people keep talking about Manny and A-Rod and the sale of the Cubs, I am perfectly to have my boys make good headlines as a team and stay silent as individuals.