My father would always say the same thing to me when we were watching
Derek Lowe c. 2003 -- "he is what he is," he'd say. His subsequent
efforts in the postseason notwithstanding, what Lowe was (and is, at
least roughly, with a career record of 146-120) was a .500 pitcher.
In some ways, being a .500 player or team is to be as Derek Lowe was
-- showing flashes of brilliance, then reverting to Meltdown Mode. If he
could just be the No-Hitter, Bite-My-Tweeter Derek Lowe all the time,
you'd think. If he could just stop running into that one bad inning.
Enter the 2010 Red Sox. Flashes of brilliance, blowing out the Tigers
on the road in the opening game of the series, with 450 foot dingers by
Big Papi and a 6-run scoring differential...followed by what we've seen
the last two days, disconcerting backslides into squandered starts,
bullpen ineffectiveness and run-scoring opportunities left on base.
It would be simpler in some ways if the Sox were just plain bad this
year. Instead, I suspect this is how it may be for the rest of the
summer campaign -- rising hopes, cresting and breaking into that trough
of disillusionment again. Tobin Bridge jumpers will line up after series
against the Rays and Yankees, continue calling for Clay Buchholz and
Jon Lester to be traded for Adrian Gonzalez, a batboy and a bucket of
baseballs, call for David Ortiz's tarring and feathering on Boston
Common, pine for the days when we had Manny Ramirez's bat and all its
concomitant problems in the lineup.
Polyannas will snort and eyeroll at the pathalogical pessimism of the nay-sayers and congratulate themselves on their superior fandom and attitude toward the team, but they'll have a tough argument to make against games like Saturday's, in which multiple offensive opportunities are squandered and the bullpen weakens, weakens, and then finally breaks in a final humiliation to the tune of walking in the winning run in the bottom of the twelfth. Great teams, even good teams, don't do that kind of thing, or at least not with the disconcerting regularity the 2010 Red Sox have.
But the rub is, it's really not so bad...it's just mediocre.There
will be this sine-wave pattern of ups and downs, but in the end, the
median is showing no signs of wavering. They are what they are -- a .500
team -- and my prediction is that there won't be any getting around it