Make No Assumptions About Our Local Sports Teams
Monday, May 24, 2010
Up is down. Black is white. Right is wrong. When it comes to our local sports franchises, it seems as if we now should expect the unexpected. How else would you explain some of the recent happenings? Take the last two days in Philadelphia. Saturday, Dice K Matsuzaka pitched 7 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball. The same Dice K who was terrible last year and had been even worse this year.
Then Sunday, the Phillies had a decided edge in the pitching match-up sending ace Roy Halladay to the mound against 43-year old knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in the rubber game. The result? Boston tagged Halladay scoring 7 runs on 8 hits in 5 2/3 innings of work. Meanwhile, Wakefield pitched 8 innings of 5-hit shutout baseball. The Red Sox win 8-3. Who would have thunk it?
We’ll get back to the Sox a little later, but let's start with the Boston Bruins. At the end of the regular season, did anyone really think that the B’s had a chance to do much of anything in the playoffs? Of course not. Yet the 6th-seeded Bruins were inches away from gaining a berth in the Stanley Cup’s Eastern Conference Finals.
Staying with the Bruins, when they jumped out to a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven conference semifinal series with Philadelphia, the whole world had them advancing to the conference finals right? The only thing in question was would it be Montreal or Pittsburgh? Wrong again!
And, not to belabor the point, but did anyone think that they would lose game 7 at the Garden after racing out to a 3-0 lead over the Flyers? Nope! Final score: Philadelphia 4 Boston 3.
But it’s not just the Bruins. How about the Celtics? For only the second time in four decades they had a worse record at home than they did on the road this year. Garnett hobbled around on one leg all season long. Paul Pierce was injured. They played an uninspired brand of basketball landing them a 4th-seed heading into the playoffs. We liked their chances to beat Miami in the opening round, but to beat Cleveland in round 2? No way! Think again! Boston 4, the NBA’s best player and team 2. Off to the conference finals.
The Orlando Magic steamrolled their way to the conference finals with dominating four game sweeps of both Charlotte and Atlanta. Add to that the fact that they ousted the Celtics from the playoffs last year by winning a game 7 at the Garden. This aging Celtics team can’t beat Superman and the Magic. As of Saturday night: Boston 3 Orlando 0 with game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals set for tonight in Boston.
Surely the Red Sox must be holding true to form, right? General manager Theo Epstein built his team around great pitching and defense. Yes, the line-up is a bit suspect, but they don’t have to score a lot of runs because of that great pitching and defense. Boston’s team ERA – 4.65 which is 24thout of 30 major league teams. As Homer Simpson would say, “doh!”
Okay, the pitching staff has struggled early on. But it must be a guy like Clay Buchholz who is struggling, not a stud ace like Josh Beckett. Sorry! Buchholz leads the Sox rotation in wins (5) and ERA (3.26). Beckett, on the other hand is last in those two categories with 1 victory and an ERA of 7.29 to this point.
Alright! The pitching has struggled a bit, but the reason they’re 8 ½ behind the division leading Rays must be because with no Jason Bay or Manny Ramirez, they have a line-up with no power and more holes in it than swiss cheese. Not so much! They rank second in all of baseball in homeruns (60). They’re fifth in both RBI’s (224) and runs scored (233). They’re also ninth in batting average at .267. So much for this team being built for run prevention!
So what have we learned here? I suppose it is that we should make no assumptions when it comes to our local sports teams because if we do, we may ultimately be disappointed.
So do me a favor. Don’t assume that the Celtics are a lock for the NBA Finals. Or that the Red Sox season is over with. Because we all know what happens when one assumes!