Friday, June 27, 2014


We're back to baseball's "marquee" matchup--the New York Yankees vs. the Boston Red Sox--even though, in this particular Year of Our Lord, the tarnish on the silverware is hard to ignore.

The schedule makers might have been tipped off in advance, for there is little frisson in how the two teams will face each other--no closely proximate home-and-home series to be found in the latter half of the 2014 season, which diffuses things. (According to some reports, it's the second "clustered" series between the two clubs that produces the highest ratings results...we won't have any of that working for us from here on out.)

And aesthetically speaking, that's probably not something to mourn. While the parity that's breaking out all over (read: "mediocrity") has the Yankees within striking distance of the Wild Card, the underlying numbers all but scream that they are really not a better team than the struggling Sox, who've had an even more precipitous offensive decline in 2014 than what would have been predicted by those who ground up their rose-colored lenses after last year's "bearded miracle."

Last night's opener of the suddenly underwhelming collision between two teams that are more reminiscent of overweight canaries than chest-thumping primates [NOTE: no BTF pun intended, though if the gorilla suit fits...] showed just how ho-hum things can be between franchises that used to promise instant excitement.

Joe and Vidal have perfected the "mid-inning handoff" in 2014.
The Sox floundered against the Yanks' endearingly wobbly southpaw Vidal Nuno, with their Big Three (Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mike Napoli) going 0-for-10 for the night. Meanwhile the Yankees found the long ball, hitting three HRs (two off starter Brandon Workman, who's been a bit of a bright spot for the Sox as they've been forced to shuffle their rotation over the past four weeks).

It was baseball that was strangely wan, not wanton; more soporific than scintillating.

That the Sox would be listless away from Fenway is no longer surprising in 2014: they are hitting just .227 on the road so far this year. The team that used to hit doubles at a clip resembling machine gun fire  is mired in the middle of the pack in 2014--and is tied for fewest doubles on the road.

The Yanks don't look much different. But somehow they've managed to play five games over their Pythagorean projection, despite an indifferent offense featuring ancient warriors (Derek Jeter, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Beltran, Ichiro Suzuki) and nondescript journeymen (Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson). One can only hold one's breath in wonderment at where this team might be in the standings without Masahiro Tanaka (11-2, 2.11), whom the Red Sox will face in tonight's game.

We'll continue to hold out hope that both of these high-falutin' yet frabjously flatulent franchises will keep up the flounder act for all of '14, giving us that annus mirabilis wherein both of them are on the outside looking in when the post-season arrives.