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The Red Sox: "Go Celtics!"

May 18, 2010, 8:17 AM EDT

Papelbon dazed.jpgLast night’s game was a gut punch. Sure, it was technically only one game, but to Red Sox fans it must have felt like three or four. An early slap in the face, an inspiring comeback and then a 1-2 from A-Rod and Marcus Thames which probably felt like a mugging. With that the Red Sox have now lost 14 of 17 to the Yankees and at 19-20 in the toughest division in baseball, stand 8.5 games back. Wait, that’s not right. They sort of sit there, kind of dazed, shifting their weight back and forth.

It’s the kind of game that can make the talk radio guys go from asking “what’s wrong with the Red Sox” to shouting about who should be cut, traded and fired and demanding to know why anyone should even care.  More importantly, it’s the kind of game that could cause fans to decide that 2010 just isn’t happening and inspire them to find something else to do with their summer days than extend the Red Sox’ sellout streak.

But I think all of that wrath will hold off for a bit longer. At least a couple weeks longer, anyway, and maybe as long as a month.  What’s stopping it?  The Celtics, who currently look unstoppable.  For those of you who don’t traffic in the lesser sports, the men in green — after unceremoniously kicking LeBron James out of the playoffs and maybe out of Cleveland — lead the Eastern Conference finals 1-0 over the Orlando Magic, and look poised to head into the finals to challenge for their 18th banner.

Because the NBA is far more ridiculous than even Major League Baseball when it comes to scheduling, even a four-game sweep of the Magic would take until next Monday and a seven game series would take this sucker through May 30th. Then, unless things go differently than they currently appear to be going, it’s on to the Finals which could stretch into mid-June.  It should all serve as a nice distraction.

I’m not saying that the Red Sox will get a free pass to continue sucking while all that plays out — Boston is a baseball town above all else, and the Sox’ bad play will make some people cranky no matter what happens — but a nice long playoff run for the Celtics, preferably with a championship at the end, may prevent the more casual fans from hopping onto the Red Sox hate-wagon.

Of course when they do ultimately jump on, they’ll jump on hard. That is, unless they reverse a trend that currently has them giving up more runs per game than any other team in the American League (yes, including the Kansas City Royals). And unless Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury come back and remind everyone that, yes, this is a good defensive team.  And unless last night’s explosion from Victor Martinez is a harbinger of a long hot streak that will make the middle of the Sox’ order as truly formidable as it was supposed to be.

And make no mistake: last night’s game aside — if indeed it’s possible to put it aside — the Sox have improved.  It’s just that this improvement means very little as the Rays and Yankees continue to stand on the gas pedal and motor off into the distance.

But for the moment at least some non-trivial percentage of Red Sox Nation — those whose passports are a tad newer, it’s safe to assume — are only paying half attention.  Instead, they’re watching the Celtics. A team that, with each win, pushes the Sox’ day of public reckoning farther into the future.

The only problem? Each Celtics’ win also puts the Sox’ current state in sharper relief.

  1. YANKEES1996 - May 18, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    I don’t normally disagree with you either but Park was a mistake man beard or no! Bruney seemed to do o.k. under Dave Eiland. Boone Logan was a nothing and the Braves knew it. I still think the Yanks did not get a good return for Melky and I am not blaming it all on Vazquez, I still think he will come around. Cashman and Girardi hurt the bullpen in the offseason and it needs some work. I am truly impressed with the play of the Yanks to this point as they have far more injury concerns so far this year than they had last year.
    @Johnny5 : what???

  2. Char in Miami - May 18, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    what is it going to take to wake up girardi/cashman that their relief pitchers absolutely suck?
    logan, robertson, park, mitre et al should be sent down to the minors or just out of the ballpark to coach little league. i will say that vazques pitched really well last night – all be it to only one man BUT HE GOT THE JOKER OUT !!! maybe he has a future as a reliever out of the bullpen.
    but cashman/girardi need to get on the stick and do something NOW -not wait until july 25th.

  3. terry - May 18, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    FYI – I am a certified old fart.
    MLB lost me in 1994. I still love the GAME but I’m much happier watching a minor league game (the mighty Portland Sea Dogs) or even grabbing brew and watching the local Mt. Blue H.S. Cougars or the mighty Beavers of UMF in a contest, or whatever.
    There is just something obscene about someone making $25 million a year to play baseball, or $30 mil to play basketball for a year. I’m not saying the market doesn’t bear it, I’m just saying that it is obscene to me.
    REMEMBER – I am a certified old fart.

  4. J Rose - May 18, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    You can’t tell me Bay wouldn’t have better numbers in Boston’s lineup than that of the NY Mess. Besides that wasn’t my point. My point was for years the Sox relied on a power hitters – Manny, Papi, Bay – to fuel the team, then all of a sudden they decided to retool the club featuring pitching and defense, and it has blown up in their faces.
    Oh and that anthem moment was hilarious, and it wasn’t the first time Tito found himself in that situation.

  5. RazzMattazz - May 18, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    Wayyyyyyyy too early to be trashing The Sox, plenty of games left and In Theo We Trust.
    And, when The Celtics win again tonight and go up 2-0, Orlando will have to wake up and realize they’re in a SERIES, not the cake-walks they’ve had so far.

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