[Bonus points to anyone who knows what 90's TV show the title is from!]
Before I let the mysterious overweight woman following the Sox around sing her song, let me just say that I refuse to give up until the math tells me that there is no other choice. Remember our opponents in the 2007 World Series? Those Colorado Rockies won 21 out of 22 games down the stretch, proving that such a feat, while improbable, is possible.
I know in my heart that things are drawing to a close, and that each Sox loss and every Yankees and Rays victory takes us closer and closer to some October golf. However, just because the Sox look to be out of the championship hunt for 2010 does not mean that we should be giving up on this season: this is still an interesting team capable of playing great baseball.
We've got several players playing for a spot next year, both rookies hoping to earn a permanent spot, and free-agents to be looking to up their price for the upcoming offseason. And what of these pending FA? David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, Adrian Beltre, and Victor Martinez all have contracts expiring when the last out is recorded this season (which looks more and more like it will be October 3rd).
Let's start with the easy one: Mike Lowell has repeatedly said he will retire after the season, to which I say "Happy Trails, Mikey." Lowell has meant a lot to me personally in his time with the Sox, and, lest you'd forgotten, he was the MVP of the 2007 World Series. I know he's been unhappy with the way things have gone this year, but if anyone deserves to be sent off with respect, it's Mikey.
David Ortiz will most likely be back - other teams are not going to be lining up to take a gamble on an aging slugger with Papi's history and body type. The Red Sox are probably not going to pick up the $12.5 million option for 2011, but it's all but certain that a deal will get done.
Beltre and Martinez are more complicated. The Red Sox need them, and they seem to thrive in Boston, which is certainly no given for many players. However, the sticking point between the sides will likely be length of contract, for both players. The Red Sox will not want to sign Martinez to a long-term deal as a catcher, as players at that position rarely age well, but it's possible that they see him as Papi's eventual replacement at DH.
Beltre is the most unlikely of all to be with the 2011 Red Sox, as his agent is Scott Boras, and he had excellent 2010 numbers. Boras always pushes his players to free-agency, and there will be teams that value Beltre more than the Sox will, and will be willing to pay him accordingly. It's a real shame, since his antics have kept the club fun, despite the continual reminder of the 2010 Parade of Carnage.
So maybe this is it... I hear the fat lady warming up backstage. But if the Red Sox aren't playing meaningful baseball this fall, we can at least take comfort in the memory of what happened the season after 2006 - the last time the Sox missed the playoffs.