When the Red Sox began their late summer skid, falling into a place where they couldn’t stop tripping over their own asses, I made a grand proclamation at my local watering hole. In between gulps of Pabst Blue Ribbon, I jumped up on the bar and screamed to the weary population that the 2021 Red Sox owed us nothing. That we all agreed right out of Spring Training that without Mookie, without Benintendi, with no JBJ patrolling the outfield, nothing good would come of this team this season. That we only changed our tune when the Sox looked like world beaters through June and July. So what right do we have to turn our backs as they stumble out of contention for the East and try to claw their way to the playoffs via the Wild Card?
That’s when one of the patrons, a wily old timer roughly 85 years my senior, grabbed me in a headlock and told me that the 2021 Red Sox are making the playoffs and there is simply no argument — scientific or otherwise — to be made to the contrary.
I will admit, it was a profound statement. And even though I saw the same guy pissing himself in Kenmore Square a few hours later, I believe him. It’s just a fact: the Red Sox are making the playoffs.
A simple glance at their remaining schedules bears this out. The Red Sox play just three of their next 13 games against a team with a winning record: the New York Yankees. The rest of their opponents include the lowly Mets, the even lowlier Nationals, and the wretched Orioles. In fact, the Sox have five more games against Baltimore that you can pretty much put down as wins right now. Last night the Sox handed the Os their 100th loss of the season, and any major dude will tell you that once a team loses 100, their competitive spirit — and their desire to do pretty much anything other than lay in bed with a family pack of Fruity Pebbles and a bottle of scotch — is essentially snuffed out.
It’s pretty easy to imagine the Sox barreling into the playoffs by going 13-0 during the last two weeks of the season. On the other hand, every other team in the Wild Card hunt will be playing each other down that same stretch, essentially doing the Red Sox’ dirty work for them. Seattle (if you can still consider them WC contenders) will play Oakland seven times. The Yanks and Jays face off three times. And the Rays play both the Yanks and Jays, and can actually help the Red Sox out provided they don’t throw in the towel the second they clinch the East.
All I’m saying is, in a season that’s been profoundly insane and unpredictable, the only thing that makes sense is for the Red Sox to clinch a Wild Card spot the last week of the month with a win against the Baltimore Orioles, the same team that they dropped the first series of the season to, igniting panic across New England. And it will happen, because life is a circle, baseball is poetry, and my beer told me it will be this way.