Most years, I dislike the All Star Break: I watch the game, and the derby, but only to fill the void until my Red Sox take the field again. This year, the break felt like it would never come, and in the last week it's been as if the Sox could barely limp to the (more than) half-way point.
If you had told me on April 20th that by July 13th, the Red Sox would have had lengthy stretches without Josh Beckett, Jacoby Ellsbury, Victor Marinez, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Cameron, Jeremy Hermida, Jason Varitek, Clay Buchholz, and Manny Delcarmen, many of them concurrently, I would have assumed we'd be in fourth place, or maybe even dead last.
As it is, we stand in third place in the AL East, five games behind the Yankees and three behind the Rays for the Wild Card. Not exactly where I'd like to be, under ideal conditions, but let's be honest: this season has been an injury nightmare.
You know that adage about never having too much pitching? Apparently you can never have to much catching... or too many outfielders... or too many infielders... and the list goes on.
If the Red Sox can tread water just a bit longer, and if Theo Epstein can get some bullpen help - stat! - reinforcements should be coming in droves: Beckett needs just one more rehab start, after today's successful PawSox outing, and Buchholz should be ready after the break. The others will return sometime in the next month or so, and besides the beaten-to-death drama surrounding Jacoby Ellsbury, this spate of injuries hasn't hurt morale like it could have.
When October rolls around, if the Sox manage to stay in it, all of New England should buy Terry Francona a drink. The man has somehow managed to stay competitive for months, despite having his Opening Day lineup for just over a week of the season, and fielding a 4A type team for much of it, all in the most competitive division in baseball.
The Sox managed to end the first half on a strong note, winning a 3-2 match up in Toronto, off a strong start from Daisuke Matsuzaka (what?!), and will send six players to the All-Star Game, albeit no starters, and at least three are currently on the DL. Still, I know they all plan to enjoy the festivities, and so do I.