The Red Sox have nothing left to play for...except to share some of their misery with their greatest rivals.
The Red Sox have been out of contention for a while now. For teams in their position, the primary goal is always player development more than actual results on the field. While fans may be able to enjoy the up-and-coming prospects getting their chances in the majors, there's something to be said for how loss after loss after loss can chip away at our collective sanity.
That brings us to the secondary goal. The one held not necessarily by the organization as a whole, but certainly by the players, manager, and fans who want to win: playing spoiler.
Today the Red Sox start a three-game set against the New York Yankees. You may have heard of the Yankees. They're the ones we all hate. By-and-large, Red Sox fans have spent the Octobers when they are, sadly, inactive rooting for whoever is playing the Yankees, and only breathing a sigh of relief when they, too, are playing golf.
The Red Sox are out of the playoffs this year, but the Yankees are not. Or at least not guaranteed to be. As it stands, Baltimore has a commanding 8.5 game lead on New York, but the Wild Card is still within reach, with the Tigers just four games away. This despite a -27 run differential which puts the Yankees closer to the Red Sox at -73 than they are to the Orioles at +76.
The Red Sox are not as good as the Yankees. Or, rather, the Yankees are not as bad as the Red Sox. But New York does not seem to be the contender they're pretending to be. They aren't the sort of team who should welcome the Red Sox into their ballpark then sweep them out with ease. And they also aren't the sort of team that can afford to be dropping series against cellar-dwellers like the Red Sox when they've got ground to make up in September.
So here come the 2014 Red Sox. By sheer numbers the most disappointing team Fenway Park has seen in quite a few years. They have given fans little enough reason to be happy these past five months, and there's no way to change that or fix the season.
What there is is a chance to start this final month of the season with a decent little gift to the fans. Whether it's the young guys like Mookie and Xander getting the job done, or veterans like David Ortiz, simply winning a couple of these games against the Yankees has some value, even if they lack any real implications for 2015.
2008 was a year with plenty of memorable events. Jon Lester's no-hitter, the acquisition on Victor Martinez, the big comeback in Game 5 of the ALCS. But one of the biggest moments for me was a three-game series in New York, just a few games earlier in the season than we are now. For the Yankees, it was a must-win set--one that could either put them right in the wild card, or nearly guarantee the end of their season. The Yankees did manage to win one of those three games, but in a must-win series, the two losses the Red Sox handed them was enough.
The Red Sox have a chance to give their fans something positive to remember about this season. They're not likely to follow through on that chance, but in a season where every series seams more pointless than the last, we've finally got something worth pulling for.
So how about it, Sox? Let's start September with a happy memory.
Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Baseball league for tonight's MLB games. It's $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. You can join in now using this link.
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