COMMENTARY | If you haven't noticed, the Boston Red Sox boast the AL's best record at the midway point of the season.
Between the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup collapse, Doc Rivers' exodus to Los Angeles and Aaron Hernandez's murder allegations, it's easy to forget that Boston's fourth team is still playing--and winning--games that matter. And they're doing it about quietly and as possible.
Gone are many of the high-profile names like Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford. Instead, the team is relying on the Daniel Nava's and Mike Napoli's of baseball--both of whom are having excellent seasons and should be in contention for a slot in next month's All-Star game.
As good as Yasiel Puig has been for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Red Sox third baseman José Iglesias is right there with him in batting average and even bests him in OBP while doing it over more at-bats. One is a SportsCenter darling and the talk of MLB while the other is hardly mentioned outside of Boston if not outright unknown in many baseball circles.
Clay Buchholz's off again, on again injury concerns in a Cy Young-caliber year appear to be going almost unnoticed. Sure, the team is winning despite him recently not getting a regular start, but with a healthy Buchholz, they are that much more dangerous.
Even David Ortiz hasn't received the same fanfare as usual, save for Dan Shaughnessy's steroid article back in early May. At 37 years old, Ortiz is turning in one of his best seasons in recent memory, putting up numbers across the board that haven't been this good since 2007 when he finished fourth in AL MVP voting.
Oddly enough, that's also the last time the Red Sox won the World Series.
Is that what it's going to take to get the spotlight back on the only team in Boston that's in-season? There is no controversy surrounding the team this year to focus on instead.
It's been over 16 years since the Red Sox were below .500 at this stage of the season. Yes, that even includes last year's abysmal 69-win season where they were 42-39 after game 81. They only need a 21-60 record down the stretch to match the result of 2012, though obviously sights are set much higher this go-around.
A return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009 appears to be in the cards. Perhaps due to the lack of attention--and therefore, a lack of scrutiny and pressure--an August and September swoon seems unlikely for this edition of the Red Sox.
Should they return to the postseason, all eyes in Boston and beyond will surely be on them. That is, unless Tom Brady goes down with an injury. Then Tebow-mania will make its way to Foxboro for the foreseeable future.
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