I may be taking up the unpopular opinion here, but I completely disagree right now that last night was a "turning point" game.
First of all, a "turning point" game can only be identified in retrospect. I don't remember really feeling like July 24th had been a "turning point" game until at least August 24th, if not later. It's only at the beginning of a much longer pattern that one game could be identified as a watershed.
And while I sympathize with the hopeful nature of the many statements I've read today about this being the way for the Red Sox to get the fire back in their belly, the problem is that a landmark game can be the start of something bad as well as something good.
Also, to compare last night's game to July 24, 2004, ignores some important differences between last year and this season. Last year, especially once Nomar was traded (which also didn't happen till after July 24th, and I wonder if we'd have called July 24th a turning point if it hadn't been for that), the team had all the tools. It just needed to pick them up and go to work.
This year is just not the same. Schilling, last year the anchor of the rotation, is reduced to a reliever this season and he's been shaky even in that role. Keith Foulke, arguably the anchor of the postseason, has gone the way of Joltin' Joe, at least for the foreseeable future. Kevin Millar has not sprung from his slump like Minerva from the forehead of Zeus as he did last year. We have a lackluster platoon at second base where last year Mark Bellhorn was still at least making the occasional contribution. Need I go on?
OK, I will. Let's just keep going through the positions. Edgar Renteria's defense has not matched Orlando Cabrera's and his bat has under-delivered. Billy Mueller has been steadfastly average. Manny, for Manny, is slumping. The one-two punch of Manny and Papi this season looks more like a one-two bitchslap at best. Johnny Damon has been pretty much the same, but as noted with Wade Boggs, it's tough for a leadoff hitter to drive in too many runs. Varitek has been a rock, but with half his pitching staff hurt and the other half unable to remove their heads from their own asses, there's not much he can really do, except with his bat, and there, he's been doing what he can. As of last night, Trot is hurt, and there's some indication that last season's injuries may still be bothering him.
Last season we had a pair of aces plus Derek Lowe, who came up brilliant in the postseason. This season, Derek's in LA, Pedro's in NY, and what we're left with, besides the aforementioned defunct Schilling and Foulke, are a sub-.500 Wake, a lackluster Wells, and Matt Clement, who as we all know has just narrowly escaped a skull fracture via Carl Crawford's line drive and may miss at least one start.
We are not in good shape, here, people. I'm not trying to bring the room down, but let's be realistic. If it was just a matter of our offense producing, or team discipline shaping up adequately, or "chemistry" beginning to solidify (as, in retrospect, it was last year), then maybe I could join the bandwagon about last night's win. But it's not. It's more than that. I'm not saying it can't be overcome, but the problems this year make last year's mid-season impediments pale in comparison. And while we have last year's example to keep us hopeful (after all, it's hard to be down 0-3, come back, and still be quite the sourpusses we were before), we also have the example of the Patriots of 2002. Or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 2001. Or the California Angels of 2003. Or the New York Yankees of 2002, 2003, or 2004. It is desperately hard for a team to win back-to-back championships--even under perfect conditions. I think we'd all at least agree that our conditions are far, far, less than perfect.
I'm not saying impossible--but it's not something to bet the farm on, either.
And either way, it's going to take more than 24 hours to deduce whether last night was really as crucial as we'd like it to be. It might turn out, by the time the post-season or off-season roll around, that the real turning point of the season actually happened sometime earlier this month, or last week, or won't actually be happening till August or September.
Believe me, I want to believe it as much as the next person--"wait" is the dirtiest four-letter word I know. But I just can't at this point. Not quite yet.