Tuesday, August 24, 2004: Unfortunately, the Red Sox do not understand the whole chain of happiness. Last night they were shut out, 3-0, by Ted Lilly and the Blue Jays. This is not cause for too much alarm. The jays played just about the perfect game for them – Lilly gave one of the great pitching performances in franchise history, they got to Pedro with two quick runs right away, and yet even with this nearly flawless game, they only won by three runs.

Furthermore, if this team is able to bounce back with Waker on the mound tonight, it will hearken back to the last few months of 2003 when different guys consistently stood up even after some of our big guns have failed. This would be a great time for Waker to start regaining his form and for the guys to put a scad of runs on the board against Batista, who has not given us much difficulty in the past.
The reality is that it would be a huge disappointment not to win this series against the Blue Jays, but I would suspect that we will come through tonight. What is amazing is that as hot as we have been, we are still in serious danger of losing a lot of ground if we go on even a short losing streak.
There are traditionalists out there who loathe the Wild Card. I just do not get it. They prattle on about the integrity of the regular season pretending to stand as the gatekeepers for the game, and yet it seems clear that these critics are willfully or otherwise unaware of two realities in the last few decades – one of these is that there are a lot more teams now, and that the older models simply would not work. One team running away with a division is simply not fun for the majority of fans. This system gives so many more fans a reason to care about their teams. Despite what the nincompoops say, then, the Wild card makes the regular season more meaningful for more teams. How that is a bad thing, I do not know. The second reality is that with a Wild Card, teams are rewarded for good seasons and not punished simply for geography. There were many years in the old AL east-AL West setup in which the two teams with the best records hands down were in the east. How, exactly, does that reward the integrity of the regular season. So let’s assess: the Wild card makes the regular season matter for more teams and more fans; it instill excitement where there otherwise would be far less; it rewards the best teams. Yes, I see how this is hugely problematic.
So even as I hope that the Sox can close the gap on the Yankees, I have no problem saying that we would otherwise want to win the Wild card. Of course we would. Those are the rules as they exist, and if we win it all within those rules, there is absolutely no reasonable way to invalidate the accomplishment. In the end, the most important thing is playing them on the field eventually. When the postseason rolls around, we are going to have to beat two of the four teams, and the other team will have already been defeated by a team we’ll have to overcome, so I am a big fan of this setup – more teams get to compete to see which really is the best. We believe that it can be the Red Sox.

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