If you didn't have a calendar and a copy of the wild card standings, you wouldn't know the situation the Red Sox were in if you entered their clubhouse Wednesday afternoon.
Despite coming off a devastating loss the night before, the scene was rather typical. Players strummed guitars, joked around with one another and signed several items such as balls and jerseys in anticipation for some giveaways for the final home game of the regular season.
And, as is always the case if one is scheduled, a day baseball game was on the TV. This one happened to be very significant to the Sox, for the Rays-Yankees game was on multiple screens. However, only a few glanced with passing interest, even though Tampa Bay was winning in the late innings at the time (New York would eventually win).
"Yeah, I don't want them to watch TV. No television," Terry Francona joked like a father doling out punishment. "No, we're 152 games into the season. It's like every other day. Obviously I hope we win. We gotta let them eat. We gotta let them watch TV. And hopefully we can go play a good game."
If that happens, there will be even less pressure on a team that has felt plenty of late, or at least played like it. Even if it doesn't, the scene in the visiting clubhouse at Yankees Stadium on Friday will be rather ordinary. It has to be that way.
"That's the thing we're always trying to do — be consistent," said Francona, who added that watching the games on TV is relaxing to him, even if they mean so much in the standings. "That's the biggest thing I can do right now is be consistent."