OK, boys. I didn't want to have to do this.
Silly me, I made the mistake of thinking that things were going especially well during the preceding months and you wouldn't need what has become your yearly talking to.
I thought that maybe this one time you'd manage to take care of things on your own, figure it out and keep with the winning ways.
But nooooooo. You go and lose five games in a row and cede the division lead to the Yankees (now up by 2 1/2 games, in case you're counting) and you've got my attention.
First of all, the phrase is "June Swoon" and I hasten to point out that it is not only NOT June, but it is almost August! It is most emphatically NOT time for this behavior. Yeah, I see you there, losing games and dawdling around and making weird trades and putting people on the disabled list with Cranky Old Man Back Syndrome. I see you! You have my attention now! Happy?
Don't think that just be designating Julio Lugo for assignment that you're in my good graces, no questions asked. While I did enjoy that and I toasted his jettisoning with a delicious martini (or two), don't go thinking that all is well and good throughout the land.
Not so, sirs, not so. Because — and I'm not sure if you've realized this or not — there are two halves to every baseball season. There's the "before the All-Star break" half and there's the "after the All-Star break" half. Logic dictates that you have to play well in both halves to make the playoffs and win games and bring home shiny trophies and ride off into the sunset to the screams and adulation of the adoring masses.
Losing five games in a row after the break and losing the division lead? That does not make the people happy. The people are sad, Red Sox. They are sad and disappointed. And I suspect that if you keep this losing nonsense up, you're going to get a stern talking to from Papa Disappointed himself, Terry Francona.
And no one wants that. You don't want to make Tito angry. He will take away your Pixie Stix, Jonathan, and he will put your Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots on the high shelf, Dustin, until such time as you feel you can play good baseball. But he'll do it because he loves you. It'll hurt him more than it's going to hurt you, trust me.
And what's this I hear about Tim Wakefield — I'm sorry, 2009 All-Star selection Tim Wakefield — going on the disabled list? Oh, Wake. Is this your way of acting out because Joe Maddon erroneously kept you on the bench during the All-Star Game? Is this your version of a temper tantrum? Are you planning on roaring out of the dugout the next time the Sox play the Rays, wearing Braveheart war paint and screaming about freedom while making Carl Crawford and his misfit band of merry upstarts flail wildly (and hopefully futilely) at theknuckleball all night?
Because if that's the plan, I can get behind it. But if you just want to feel appreciated, well, we love you, Timmy. Now douse yourself in some Icy Hot and let's go.
Because, gentlemen, pitching is a concern. When is it not? Personally I'm of the mind that you could stock a roster with 25 pitchers, a ball boy and a clubhouse attendant in charge of sunflower seeds and it still wouldn't be enough. Any fewer than that and you run the risk of pulling a Baltimore. (That being the colloquial expression for overperforming for the first month of the season only to realize, in a moment of forehead-smacking clarity, that you once again forgot to get starting pitching).
Daisuke Matsuzaka (remember him?) remains on the disabled list and John Smoltz appears to be going gently into that good night. Now, I've not heard a terrible lot about your plans to acquire our good friend (and more than occasional nemesis) Roy Halladay from up yonder Blue Jays. That's fine, provided he either stays there or goes somewhere far, far outside the 212 area code. Like in the National League. On the West Coast. Of Japan.
Of course, you being the Red Sox and all, you can't possibly go through an entire season without pillaging the Pirates (see what I did there?) and making off with one of their top players in exchange for some used paper clips and an old memo pad "From the desk of Dan Duquette." Apparently, it's just what we do around these parts and that exceptionally polite Jason Bay fellow seemed to work out well, so why not dip into the Pittsburgh talent pool — such as it is — again?
And that's all well and good but what I am concerned about? Is the not winning games. You are most assuredly not winning baseball games and as that, on the whole, is your job, I am issuing the edict that you straighten up and fly right for the remainder of the season.
Look, it's because I love you guys. Clearly, I say all of this out of love. But if you insist on acting like a bunch of lollygaggers or, god forbid, start imitating the Mets, then it's going to have to be tough love. Because you are too good for this nonsense, gentlemen and I, for one, will not stand for it.
Now, let's put on our big boy pants and go out there and win some baseball games, eh? How about it? Hey look, Baltimore's in town. Baby steps, boys. Baby steps.