A self-imposed moratorium on the sources from which trumped-up hysteria usually comes have made this late to reach me, but are people truly worried about a streak of lost Spring Training games right now?
It has been a lot of games -- ten straight, Extra Bases informs me, a franchise record, and as I write this, the Sox are in a rain delay vs. the Jays, down 2-1. In fact, this whole Spring Training has been the worst, W-L record-wise, in about 15 years.
Maybe I just have yet to emerge from apathy following my fury over football, or maybe it's because I haven't exactly been scrupulous about watching what few games have been televised. But yesterday, I personally was siding with Rem-Dawg and Orsillo, as they giggled sarcastically about being surprised Francona remains at the helm of the team. I mean...seriously?
Take that game yesterday, in itself, as an example. Starting pitchers: the Orioles' pesky Chris Tillman vs. Red Sox minor league insurance man Brandon Duckworth. Not exactly a matchup for the ages. It very well could've been a much more intriguing Tillman vs. Jon Lester instead, and it wasn't a matter of health for our lefty -- Lester worked against minor leaguers at the minor league complex, even as the Sox trotted out Duckworth against another big league club.
Is there really anyone that seriously believes some kind of early-season gamesmanship, an entirely different form than midseason gamesmanship, isn't a part of this?
Speaking of Lester, I remember Curt Schilling talking once while he was with the Sox about pitching against minor leaguers while pretending they were big leaguers with different tendencies. He got lit up in many of those practice sessions by youngsters geeking about getting a hit off a big name, hacking away with all their might, while he tried to pace himself and fine-tune his adjustments, and he still walked off the field satisfied.
With that in mind, let's look at Lester's outing against those minor leaguers yesterday -- and lo and behold! Five innings, nine hits, and five runs!! My GOD!! Is Lester done? Should someone else start Opening Day?
The only thing important about any of it, pretty much, is that Lester wasn't on TV, and therefore, he wasn't on high-quality film anywhere for an extended period of time, working on (and tipping) whatever it is he's got left to work on before Opening Day. Really, I do think that's the long and short of it. Yes, other teams may have been able to send scouts to his session with the minor leaguers anyway, but that's not the same as seeing him face live big-league hitters for those five innings in NESN HD.
You could still argue, I suppose, that even if nothing is as it seems and the Sox are all just tinkering, the losing streak means that they are not as successful as their opponents with the things they are working on. To me, though, that's getting into "looking for things to worry about" territory.
Which, of course, would be par for the course around here, for everyone to be driving themselves crazy chomping at the bit for this team to come together, already, with all the big-money guys on the field at once, all focused on the same opponent.
But that kind of thing just isn't going to happen for at least another few days yet. And to me, reading in to the losing streak to try and get a competitive fix is like trying to get drunk on O'Doul's before noon -- anybody who does it is only going to succeed in looking foolish.
Until the real rounds get here -- in other words, until we see a full complement of starters on the field in a game that matters -- it just ain't the right time for that yet, "franchise records" for games that don't matter notwithstanding.